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May 7th, 2014 AP KRYZA | Movie Reviews & Stories
 

AP Film Studies: The Good, the Bad and the Corny

Clint Eastwood is cinema’s softest badass.

movies_eastwood_4027HEY GIRL: Clint Eastwood can read your soul. - Image courtesy of MGM
Next month, Clint Eastwood—he who helmed such hard-hitting meditations on masculinity as Unforgiven and Mystic River and became the grizzled face of Hollywood manliness—hits theaters again. With…Jersey Boys? 

ILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall
Yes, a film adaptation of the musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The least manly story ever, told in the least-manly way ever, by Dirty Harry.

Your mom is super pumped.

In Clint’s best film—Sergio Leone’s brutal The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (playing Friday through Sunday at the Hollywood Theatre)—he turned in arguably the greatest performance in a Western ever, and certainly the most badass. His nameless character was tough to the core, and he lived on in all of his testosterone-spewing characters, from Dirty Harry to Josie Wales to Gran Torino’s gnarled Walt Kowalski. How could this man want to tell the story of the high-pitched asswipe who crooned “Sherry Baby”? Is Clint going soft?

Here’s the thing: People who worship at the dusty, blood-soaked altar of Clint tend to forget that we often see tough guys through a lens that’s blind to cheese and schmaltz. Robert Mitchum had a side career as a calypso singer, fake accent and all. John Wayne began his career as a croonin’ cowboy. Yul Brynner sang and danced through The King and I. Stallone starred with Dolly Parton in Rhinestone and directed Stayin’ Alive. And Clint…well, Clint might be the one who has most openly embraced his soft, corny side.

It was, after all, Clint who used his image as a badass outlaw to sell the horrific oater musical Paint Your Wagon alongside fellow tough guy Lee Marvin. He teamed up with an alcoholic orangutan twice, in Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel; cruised around in a Pink Cadillac; and wept through The Bridges of Madison County.

So is it really such a surprise that the 84-year-old—a man carved from wood who probably sweats gravy and craps lead—is directing what might be the cheesiest and most cloying film of the year?

Not really.

It takes balls of steel for a man of Clint’s rawhide stature to go against the grain and embrace his sensitive side. In fact, I’d say Clint making romantic crapfests is ballsier than anything his contemporaries would pull.

Well, either that or he’s gone senile. He did, after all, scold a chair at the Republican National Convention. But at least he’s giving your mom something to look forward to. And real men take care of the ladies they love. 

Also Showing: 

  • Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? is a documentary about the disappearance of bees around the world that, sadly, has nothing to do with Wu-Tang. Those Killa Beez would just tell us to get high and go to Kung Fu Theater on Tuesday (more on that later). Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm Thursday, May 8.
  • The NW Film Center resurrects India’s seminal Apu Trilogy, a series of Bengali films spanning 1955 to ’59 and focused on a young man’s coming of age in the early 20th century. Ravi Shankar wrote the score. His daughter, Norah Jones, later wrote music with Seth MacFarlane and talked about fucking a teddy bear. Sigh. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. May 7-11. See nwfilm.org for schedule.
  • Based on the success of The Deer Hunter—a long, slow, intentionally boring look at the life of Philly roughnecks before and after Vietnam—director Michael Cimino was given free rein with Heaven’s Gate, a long, slow, intentionally boring Western. It was one of the biggest bombs of all time. Cimino’s career was ruined, and his last major release remains a beautiful, misunderstood opus. 5th Avenue Cinema. 7:30 pm Friday, May 9.
  • Marlon Brando also played a bunch of tough dudes, most famously in the 1953 motorcycle classic The Wild One. Brando also later went soft. With butter. And it was gross. Laurelhurst Theater. May 9-15.
  • Portland synth guru Solovox performs live during a screening of Moog, a documentary about the creator of the greatest music synthesizer of all time. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Saturday, May 10.
  • Denzel Washington finally won an Oscar in 2002 for Training Day, which wasn’t a good movie. Some say it was a consolation prize for his loss in 1993 for Malcolm X, his bar-none best performance. He lost that year to Al Pacino as a blind, walking hard-on in Scent of a Woman. Hoo-ah. 5th Avenue Cinema. 7 pm Friday-Saturday and 3 pm Sunday, May 9-11.
  • The NW Film Center follows its retrospective of shorts by revolutionary animators John and Faith Hubley with Faith’s feature debut, The Cosmic Eye, a nutty ’toon from 1986 about aliens observing the strange habits of humans, with Dizzy Gillespie providing music and voicing Father Time. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Sunday, May 11.
  • So here’s what the Beez would really tell you: Shaolin Invincibles is batshit even by 1970s kung fu standards, and includes wizard battles, fighting gorillas and other things best appreciated while cripplingly stoned. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Tuesday, May 13.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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