Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Listen to Your Father

'My father always told me you don't get anything for nothing, and although I was always rebelling, I never rebelled against that.'
--actor and director Clint Eastwood, from a new biography on his life. We couldn't help noticing the applause he received some months ago when he appeared on the Letterman show around the time his most recent movie, Gran Torino, debuted. It may have been the longest, loudest, most appreciative celebration for any guest on that show in years. Something about his work strikes an emotional chord in many people, and we happen to be among that cohort.

9 Comments:

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Kasscho said...

There's just something to be said about his understated delivery. He writes music, plays piano, acts and directs and yet seems very modest about it all.

 
At 8:16 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Like many of his characters over the years, he lets his actions do most of his talking.

 
At 9:34 PM, Blogger Kasscho said...

...a lesson for all of us.

 
At 11:05 PM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

He once said in an interview, "I stare real good."

 
At 5:45 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Does he ever, Art. He's from the minimalist/less-is-more school of acting. But many of his roles in the '60s and '70s westerns also allowed him to supplement those quiet stares with just enough spare lines of tender dialogue to establish his righteous regard for the forgotten and easily overlooked person, those whom he sought to protect. I think that's the source of much of the outsized regard for him today.

 
At 9:49 AM, Blogger Art Durkee said...

He's taken a lot of critical blows from movie critics, etc., about how he can't act. I never thought that he couldn't act, if he wanted to, but he usually chose to underplay rather than ham it up. Of course some of that depended on how good the script and director were. "The Eiger Sanction" is an underrated Eastwood film, for example, while in some ways the "Dirty Harry" movies were more memorable for their pithy dialogue than their plots, which are not all equally coherent.

I think it's when Eastwood started to direct that things quickly improved for him, too. People realized he had a genuine sense of storytelling, and his laconic hero types developed more facets and character details. Think of "Pale Rider," or "Unforgiven," for example.

But I have to say, his jazz-styled and jazz-filled films are among his very best. He has a genuine feel for music, and how music works inn movies. Those films are among his best, and I'd have to say, better than many other directors', too. Not all directors are capable of handling music sensitively; most of my favorite directors have shown they can, at least sometimes.

 
At 9:57 AM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Some nice additions to the point, Art, about which more later.

 
At 6:00 PM, Blogger Diane Vogel Ferri said...

He's a class act, for sure. I thought Gran Torino was a great movie - it had a lot to say, which is the kind of movie I like, but rarely find.

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger John Ettorre said...

Agreed on that, Diane. Though not all movie critics agreed with us. Many reverted to the tired conversation about how this represented a latter-day Dirty Harry callousness about race. But I thought it nicely captured the more complex racial story of inner cities, and the elderly white ethnic working class's reactions to what's become of their once-proud old neighborhoods. It all rang true for me.

 

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