Sunday, February 28, 2010

Int Cleastwood

I'm watching 90 minutes of DVD from what may be the best interviewer in the world, James Lipton in the Actors' Studio, interviewing Clint Eastwood. I like his work but I think I'm not Clint's biggest fan in the world, because he tends to do "human drama" kind of films, whereas I prefer things more abstract, fantastic, or humorous*. But I have a high respect for him, and I think he must be one of the most intelligent creators in Hollywood.

A perfect example is something many actors have pointed out, that Clint is perhaps the only instructor they've met who does not yell "action!" and "cut!", but just quietly states something like, "OK, go ahead when ready" and "that's enough of that". It turns out this is not just a quirky character trait, it's quite important.
I thought you ought to see this brilliant bit, so I posted it:

... I especially took note of the comment that he had never been able to get a single director to change the habit of yelling "action!" This to me speaks volumes about the ability of humans to learn, after all it's not like these are stupid people, they are trained professionals in a very competitive business.

The Clint's last words in the interview is "you're real lucky if you manage to have success in a profession that's fun." Couldn't agree more, if you spend half your waking hours doing something, it's makes a hell of a difference whether you find it a burden or a pleasure!

* Don't get me wrong, I have watched and enjoyed a great number of his films.


Bronislaus Janulis / Framewright said...

Thanks Eolake!

My senior kid made me watch the movie
"Fame" tonite,; very similar thinking.


Anonymous said...

Clint makes some of the most beautifully photographed movies today. Check out The Outlaw Josey Wales. Sometimes I watched it (again) without the sound, just for the visual pleasure of it.

Timo Lehtinen said...

All Hollywood movies suck, but Clint's movies suck maybe a little less. I had to stop and think why that is. I came up with four differing qualities.

Most Hollywood movies look like they were edited by a teenage imbecile high on sugar. In contrast, Clint's movies have a slower, more interesting rhythm.

In most Hollywood movies the acting, if you can call it that, is so bad that a japanese industrial robot could do better. In Clint's movies there is at least an attempt at real acting.

The audio track of most Hollywood movies is filled either with (1) a sugary, pompous and naive orchestral score; or (2) contemporary pop/rap full of aliasing distortion and completely void of musical ideas. In contrast, Clint's movies are mostly quiet, allowing the work to breath.

Most Hollywood movies are based on the same worn out, uninventive and silly action story. Clint's movies take some liberations in this, and while in no way original, there is at least an attempt at real drama. He also has revisited ideas on how the story was told in bygone times.

In summary: Clint's movies aren't masterpieces, but they are clearly better than the average Hollywood shite.

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

I'll rent The Outlaw Josey Wales, thanks. I had considered it, but opted for several others instead.

It's true he's powerful visually. Also witnessed in Unforgiven, which I otherwise had some philosophical problems with.

Bronislaus Janulis / Framewright said...


A point about the "vengeance" aspects of some of Eastwood's films. Pale Rider, and High Plains Drifter both have mystical, avatar like characters. In Unforgiven, he plays St Michael, St. George, as dirtily incarnate, but somewhat the same character.

On another note, is there an industry more self-congratulatory than movies?

Eolake Stobblehouse said...

Indeed. The Oscars is one huge incest love fest.
(So sad they are so important to so many otherwise fine actors.)

And the logos of the big studios are so pompous they make me nearly puke.

Anonymous said...

All Hollywood movies suck, but Clint's movies suck maybe a little less.

Nice of you to provide any examples in support. You have made a comment stupid enough to have come from Bron. Congrats! That is quite an accomplishment.

(It's funny how people like you throw out these opinions but state them like facts. Stupid people like to do that a lot.)

Pretentious morons like you are the kind who pretend to like Lars von Trier, and the reason he's somehow managed to acquire a reputation as a genius instead of a colossal idiot. The acting equivalent would be Keanu Reeves being lauded as Olivier's successor.

dave nielsen said...

Well, you know, in my opinion most Hollywood movies are crap, but this doesn't mean they are unwatchable. Crap can be entertaining. I liked Transformers, for example, and the Spider-Man movies, even though they are garbage. Showgirls is a classic because it is, to borrow from Ebert, almost awesome in its badness. (He was talking about Highlander 2 when he said that but it can be applied to a lot of movies.) To say they are crap and comment on obvious things like the soundtrack...well, that's really to say nothing at all. To quote Douglas Adams, it's strange how so many people have this "peculiar habit of continually stating and restating the very very obvious."

As for Von Trier, I can't say. I have never seen any of his movies.

This dislike of Hollywood movies by Europeans seems more like sour grapes than anything though. And it could certainly be said that every country produces its share of crap.

Timo Lehtinen said...

It's funny how people like you throw out these opinions but state them like facts.

What I wrote were facts.

The thing with Hollywood movies is that they are designed primarily to provide a safe, predictable experience. Like the MacDonalds hamburger. Or a childrens book.

Before a movie is released, it is shown to test audiences who fill in a questionaire. If enough people tick the box that says there is too much dialogue, the film is re-edited with less dialogue, and tested again.

Often several alternative endings are shot for a film. They are each tested and the ending that leaves the audience feeling best (as in a warm fuzzy feeling) is the one they'll use.

Or an actual example: When Blade Runner was about to be released, the studio felt that the audience would not understand the plot and might feel awkward for Deckard and Rachael not “getting each other” in the end. So they made Harrison Ford do a naive voice over that Ridley Scott hated but had no choice but to comply.

This Big Mac approach to film making has resulted in a genre of soulless and lifeless entertainment. The cinematographic equivalent to fast food. Something that is guaranteed to not make you feel awkward in any way. But at the same time, it doesn't make you feel anything at all.

People who eat only junk food, be it in a fast food restaurant or purchased at the super market, are unaware of what it feels like to eat real food, with real nutrients. To not feel fuzzy and sleepy after eating one's lunch is a thought completely foreign to them. Let alone the idea of getting immediate, uplifting energy and clarity of thought.

The same applies to movie goers. Audiences of Hollywood crap have no idea what it feels like to get a true film experience. An experience where you can not be sure whether you are watching drama or reality. An effect that lasts days.

What's worse, year by year Hollywood gets worse. I am somewhat impartial to American films from the early days, when the whole field was new. But these days, when they are afraid to take any risks at all, the once glorious film town has degraded into a shameful state.

Pretentious morons like you are the kind who pretend to like Lars von Trier, and the reason he's somehow managed to acquire a reputation as a genius instead of a colossal idiot.

Actually, he may well be a colossal idiot, in addition to being a genius.

I can not say I have enjoyed all of his films. In fact, often they are downright painful to watch. But they do offer an authentic experience, firing neurons in your brain that Hollywood film editors do not know even exist. Because of this, I will never forget them. And the “after taste” is much better than a 100 sugary, pompous, template-driven, pretentious Hollywood films combined.

Lars von Trier is not my favourite director. The reason I have used him as an example in the past is because he is the most uncompromising and the most audience-insulting director I know.

And if a film director never gets threatened by his audience, his films probably are not worthy of spending time watching.

Anonymous said...

Almost everything you just said was complete crap. For one thing it's not based on actual experience, since I know you live in Finland, aka Buttfuck Nowhere. What you have written is not fact but mere opinion based on someone's paranoid fantasies. Someone European, of course. Success if hated by the unsuccessful, the losers in life.

It would be vary easy to make movies like Lars Von Trier's. To be "in your face" is easier than saying anything of value. He has made a career of being "shocking" but as Bill Waterson said it's just weirdness for weirdnesses sake. That doesn't hold up.

Hollywood is capable of making the kinds of movies you claim to love. Some of the greatest movies of all time were Hollywood movies. Some of the greatest directors worked there, and produced commercial films that nevertheless managed to be great.

And of course even if you really belive that all Hollywood movies are crap, it is a fact (yes, an actual fact, something you're unfamiliar with) that Europeans come out in droves to watch the latest Hollywood garbage. So I guess European audiences are no more sophisticated than any other, and are not demanding better.

Hollywood produces all kinds of movies, some of it crap, but certainly not all of it. No greater percentage, in fact, it's just that they produce so much of it and it is distributed so widely.