Archive | 5:45 pm

A Broken-Down Old Man

20 Sep

If you thought Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention was bizarre, then just wait until you see him in Trouble with the Curve.

In the opening moments of the film, the actor stands in the bathroom, looks down, and talks to his penis. “Don’t laugh,” he tells his poorly functioning organ. “I outlived you, you little bastard.”

Really? Yes, really.

This is the guy who played Dirty Harry, who won Oscars for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, and who used to be one of the most respected actor-filmmakers in the business.

What happened?

He got old, that’s what happened, and he didn’t age well. Now, Eastwood is stuck in grizzled old-guy mode. His last big-screen role, in Gran Torino, reduced him to a one-note caricature. Trouble with the Curve digs him even deeper into that hole.

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Ghetto Gunfighters

20 Sep

Good movies have the power to transport us, whether they’re taking us to a completely made-up world or showing us somewhere we typically don’t go.

The new movie End of Watch does the latter: It takes us on a cinematic ride-along with two cops as they patrol South Central Los Angeles.

The film’s gimmick is that Officer Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) is documenting what it’s like to be a cop. So he carries around a camcorder and has small cams that he attaches to his and his partner’s uniforms, plus the other cameras placed within the squad car and elsewhere.

Yes, that has a tendency to create a very shaky picture at times, such as in the opening car chase, which is exciting, but also a bit disorienting. When it works, though — which is more often than not — the vérité style makes the film’s dialogue sound unscripted, the action feel more real, and the chemistry between Taylor and Officer Mike Zavala (Michael Peña) more natural.

And that’s partly what distinguishes End of Watch from other buddy-cop movies. Continue reading