Friday, November 12, 2010

Eastwood. Hereafter.

This new blog moniker is a feature of all things Zerfas. The tagline itself is a string of one word sentence punches in a stream of consciousness intertwining things that make up Ryan C. Zerfas. One of my many obsessions of this world I live in within myelf—the work of Clint Eastwood. It’s to the point that I feel comfortable defining myself by it. So, I see all of his movies, and will naturally feel the urge to share some thoughts…

I think Gran Torino was the perfect close to Clint Eastwood’s acting career, yet it makes me sad that we’ll most likely (baring a Michael Jordan Bobcats like resurrection) never again see Clint grace the screen. We do have his work as a director and his touch is certainly a heavy one.

Without a doubt, there is a running theme (intentional or not) to Eastwood’s latest movies, and it’s very logical. He’s not going to live and/or be able to make movies forever. He has the option to be incredibly selective. The movies he’s been choosing lately tackle heavy topics with characters that are struggling with said topics of great weight and life circumstance. It’s also fun that he’s only working with the big names and besides Morgan Freeman (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Invictus), unique and unpredictable choices to pair with Eastwood, like Angelina Jolie.

Although, I’d love to see another light and airy cop movie from Clint, I have enjoyed the popularity, dignity and respect this last batch of films has garnered Eastwood. I don’t necessarily need everyone to LOVE everything I love, but the respect and shared enjoyment of films like Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, Mystic River, etc. have brought many of my friends into the Eastwood circle. There’s nothing like a good circle of shared entertainment.

The latest epic endeavor Hereafter finds Eastwood again teaming up with Matt Damon. Can’t lose formula right from the start.

This film uses the parallel story method much like Magnolia or the Chuck Klosterman book Downtown Owl, blending three seemingly unrelated stories together. Because it’s “the movies” one can’t help but know everyone is going to come together in the end somehow. But, the joy in this method is you get multiple perspectives in one story. And each set of characters in this trio did a nice job continuing the story in a compelling nature as Clint weaved it all together.

What I love about Matt Damon is his ability to be a sex symbol, smartest man EVER, James Bond, college wiz kid, but somehow seem so normal. The Ocean’s series really capitalized on this. I can’t help but think about how normal Matt Damon seems in movies, yet he’s obviously a movie star with sex appeal, power, money, fame, etc. In this movie he totally seems like a guy you could run into through the streets of some suburban Ohio town. How does he do that?

I think this brand of Damon is the only thing Leo can’t do. DiCaprio just can’t pull off “normal guy” like he tried to in Revolutionary Road. He just always has class like Jim Helpert in a tux. Leo can’t shed the class, while Damon can shed movie star. I guess that’s why I found The Departed so compelling, but that’s for another day.

Eastwood has this uncanny ability with lighting to make these suburban environments seem so dark and real. His continued use of shadow lighting continues to baffle me… how it engages scenes with his trademark shots and somehow I have yet to get sick of it. It’s almost laughable how he abuses shadow lighting over and over and over again. Like Vince Vaughn stumbling over lines to make his characters seem more off the cuff. With Clint everything is always pieced together in a precise fashion, one can’t help but be engaged.

Even if the movie is mediocre, people stick with it. Like a famous chef slinging cheese and crackers, you’d be entertained throughout the eating experience, even if the substance wasn’t everything you’d really want from that chef. You take what you get and it would still be a cut above anything else out there.

I think Hereafter is a cut above Invictus, Changeling, and Flags of our Fathers. I left Letters From Iwo Jima off the list, because that was a monumental achievement beyond words. Perhaps, also for another time…

Until then, I’ll be looking forward to the next listed (IMDB) project for Eastwood…wait…wait for it…. Leonardo DiCaprio playing J. Edgar Hoover.

Should be EPIC!


  1. Million Dollar Baby- great
    Mystic River- great
    Iwo Jima- incredible
    Flag of Our Fathers- incredible
    Invictus- ok
    Gran Torino- not good.

    Eastwood's a great director but Gran Torino was not up to his caliber. I'm right on with you on everything else, between Eastwood and Damon, but I had to put in my two cents. Let me know how you like Hereafter and if it's one I should see before it's 12" wide on my computer screen.

  2. Owen,

    I think you should see it. Anytime you get that combination it's worth a viewing.

    I understand why people don't like Gran Torino, but that's the kind of movie I love to see. Ha. It's hilarious. Sure, some of the other acting was subpar. And sometimes you just cringe, because you can feel people reading lines like " ever since the Ford plant..blah blah>..." but come on. How do you not enjoy "What are you spooks up to?"

    Good stuff. I'll miss him on the screen. I wish Invictus was better. This didn't let me down though... very cool movie. Nothing epic... but very cool.