What is it with Clint Eastwood and the lost children? I'm not just talking about MYSTIC RIVER and the new CHANGELING, but look at his career as a director. THE BEGUILED (child rape), BREEZY (child abuse), THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (dead son and dead surrogate son), HONKYTONK MAN (statutory rape), SUDDEN IMPACT (child rape), A PERFECT WORLD (kidnapping), TRUE CRIME (murder of an unborn child), MILLION DOLLAR BABY (death of surrogate daughter) and all those dead American and Japanese boys in FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. I mean, Clint is a pianist too. He should know that hitting the same note over and over can get numbing.
Clint's a funny bastard. How about tossing another comedy our way every now and then? That's not to say that CHANGELING is bad movie. In fact, it's a very good movie. I think Spike Lee's problems with Eastwood aren't so much that Eastwood wouldn't invent heroic black characters to insert in his war movies in the name of political correctness, but is more about the fact Lee realizes he will never be the storyteller Eastwood is.
It helps that Angelina Jolie gives what may be her best performance to date. Oscar bait, as they say. Her only problem now is deciding which accessory kid to wear on the red carpet.
Jolie gives up trading in on being sexy and is totally believable as the single mother of a lost child. John Malkovich show some remarkable restraint in a role that could have easily gone over-the-top. Jason Butler Harner, as Gordon Northcutt, creates a character that gives almost bullet-proof support for the pro-death penalty argument. Only Jeffrey Donovan 'Irish' cop comes across as a TV actor overwhelmed by the big screen.
Being a 'true' story (as true as any story can be), in the hands of a less talented director and cast, the script could have easily become a ham handed melodrama on the Hallmark Hall of Fame channel with Ed Asner inserted in as the cranky grandfather who learns the true meaning of Christmas. In fact, the psych wards scenes started to toe that line, but the movie quickly snaps back into place.
This'll tell you how effect a job Eastwood and co. did with CHANGELING; when I got home I had yet another 'never get in a car with strangers' talk with my 9 year-old. The last time a movie sparked a conversation between me and my children was after I saw MAX PAYNE, and that was just to tell them to skip the movie and use that time to play the game again.
It is sad because Marky Mark Walberg in MAX PAYNE is the movie that was supposed to save 'based on video game' movies, so I think it's safe to say the based on video game genre sucked it's last foul breath, unless their planning SUPER MARIO BROTHER TWO.
All alleged filmmaker John Moore has done here is steal equal parts from THE MATRIX, John Woo, GALDIATOR and THE HULK (Ang Lee's gay Hulk, not the Ed Norton one), and then sucked all the life and blood out of a perfectly fine third person shooter game.
The movie is so bad I was very surprised not to find Steven Segal in it. Instead we get Marky Mark Walberg, and I don't buy Marky as an action star, He comes across more like the kind of scumbag punk that would sucker punch and kick a Vietnamese kid down a stairwell at a party (oops that was real life, not the movies).
I'd comment on Markey's acting, but he never does any in MAX PAYNE. He just walks around from person to person getting piece of information handed to him until the predictable shoot out at the end. Avoid MAX PAYNE like John McCain needs to avoid talking to his imaginary friend Joe The Plumber in public. You have been warned.
I did the list of Eastwood directed kid in peril films from memory and then went to the IMDB to see if I might have missed any, and that's were I found the very sad news that Eastwood's next film will feature Matt Damon as a South African rugby player. Have the lessons of BLOOD DIAMONDS been lost on all of us? I hardly buy Damon's American accent, I can't wait to hear what he does with South African.
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Lance Norris gives us his opinions on the state of film, vents about Hollywood, and generally lets his thoughts fly.
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