Then Playing — Richard Jewell; Men in Black: International; Terminator: Dark Fate

Richard Jewell (Clint Eastwood, 2019). Another entry in Clint Eastwood’s late career run of pedantic, politically confused prestige dramas, Richard Jewell follows the title security guard (Paul Walter Hauser) during the grueling stretch after his discovery of a bomb at … Continue reading Then Playing — Richard Jewell; Men in Black: International; Terminator: Dark Fate

From the Archive — Letters from Iwo Jima

Last week, I dug out the old review for Clint Eastwood’s The Flags of Our Fathers. It’s time for his follow-up. Since I initially took the occasion of revisiting these reviews of Eastwood films to call into question some of the more overt veneration of his skills as a director, I now feel obligated to add that this effort nabbed a reasonably secure place on my top ten list for the year it was released.  Well it’s a damn sight better than Flags of Our Fathers, I’ll say that. The companion to director Clint Eastwood’s earlier film about the battle of Iwo Jima … Continue reading From the Archive — Letters from Iwo Jima

From the Archive — Flags of Our Fathers

Clint Eastwood has a new film out. It is not being especially well-received. In general, I’ve long found the movie critic discourse around Eastwood’s directorial career to be a little perplexing. I’ve liked many of his films, including proud placement of a few on various lists of laudatory accomplishment. But to refer to Eastwood as one of the great filmmakers (I remember at least once critic, circa Mystic River, positing that Eastwood was the greatest American director then working) requires turning a blind eye to a lot of flawed material, even if one generously ignores the absolute worst efforts. I think … Continue reading From the Archive — Flags of Our Fathers

Playing Catch-Up: Privilege, Sully, Indignation

Privilege (Peter Watkins, 1967). This is exactly what I want a movie with a 1967 copyright date to be. The sole credited screenplay of novelist Norman Bogner, Privilege follows the story of Steven Shorter (played by Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones), a rock singer who is coopted by British authorities so they can insidiously control the upstart youth culture. Set in a near future, the film is groovy satire, just prescient enough to avoid being little more than an artifact of distant days when the counterculture seeped into cinema with sporadic success. Jones is a middling actor, but he … Continue reading Playing Catch-Up: Privilege, Sully, Indignation

From the Archive: Unforgiven

As we continue to trek through the favored films I wrote about for the special year-end edition of The Reel Thing, I will now note that we also carved out a few minutes in the episode to discuss the worst films of 1992. Currently blessed with the selectivity of a part-time film critic, I’m decidedly ill-equipped to come up with such a list, but we had no shortage of contenders back then, especially with small-town screens serving as our main source of cinema. So, straight from the script, here’s my list of the worst films of 1992: Look, there’s a … Continue reading From the Archive: Unforgiven

From the Archive: The Rookie

When we were doing the radio program The Reel Thing, we got press kits from a few studios and promotion house, but much of the time we had few supplemental resources (of course, there was also no internet to spill every piece of data we might need). So I distinctly remember sitting through the credits for The Rookie with an intense focus, trying to make certain I had Pepe Serna’s name correct for the review. I knew I’d made the right choice in singling the actor out when me colleague on the other side of the broadcast board laughed and nodded … Continue reading From the Archive: The Rookie

In a town that was like a wishing well, you were cast in like a stone

As if often the case when a film is the subject of back-and-forth, hyperbolic, politically-minded screeds, American Sniper is more of a litmus test of the predisposition of the viewer than a film making fiercely argued points on either side of the argument raging in its wake. As best as I can tell, those who decry it as a patriotically-blinded, neocon agitprop are ignoring the film’s undercurrent consideration of the way recurring wartime military service tears apart a life and a psyche. Interestingly enough, the film’s more fervent defenders’ common penchant to paint it as a sterling testament to the unyielding … Continue reading In a town that was like a wishing well, you were cast in like a stone