TIFF: Eastwood is either patient or lazy, depending…

Posted by · 12:29 pm · September 13th, 2010

Traditional media are responding to Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter” even if early-bird web folks smacked it down after the first press screening of the film this weekend.  I think it’s safe to say that Richard Corliss and Roger Ebert rarely meet an Eastwood film they don’t like, but raves in Time magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times can go a long way in an awards season.

Corliss seems to feel that “if you go with his new picture’s slow flow, and stick around for its rapturous resolution, you’ll see this as a summing up, a final testament of so many Clint characters, from The Man With No Name to Dirty Harry, from Million Dollar Baby’s Frankie Dunn to Gran Torino’s Walt Kowalski, for all of whom facing down death was a natural part of life.”

Ebert, meanwhile, notes that the film “is made with the reserve, the reluctance to take obvious emotional shortcuts, that is a hallmark of Eastwood as a filmmaker” and that “Eastwood and his actors achieve a tone that never forces the material but embraces it.”

Jeffrey Wells, on the other hand, seems to see laziness where others see patience.  Calling the picture “Eastwood’s weakest film ever,” Wells says he does not “sense a strengthening at work here. I feel a lack of inquiry and vigor and snap — a lack of focus and demand, perhaps a little too much of a ‘good enough, this’ll do’ attitude…But you have to suffer a little bit for your art. You always have to sweat it somewhat. Art isn’t easy.”

I must confess to feeling a bit of that in a number of Eastwood’s efforts as of late, so I doubt very much that Wells is stepping out of bounds.  Nevertheless, I look forward to making up my own mind.

Meanwhile, I should point out that Eastwood is playing the usual cards.  Remember all that “the performances are the special effect” talk when “Mystic River” was going head to head with “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” back in 2003?  Well, he’s quoted in The Canadian Press as follows:

In this MTV generation that we live in, I think it’s something that I still like to embrace: that we actually unfold the stories and get to know the people and get to know a little more detail about them, rather than play to the common denominator or the lack of attention span that sometimes people feel goes on now.

Mind, I don’t necessarily disagree with those sentiments.  They are somewhat evergreen, really.  We all want to see refined filmmaking push through.  But is it another calculation to be tossing out these generalizations as the film heads into the awards season?  Kind of a, “Look, remember the good old days” nudge to Academy types?  I’m just asking the question.

[Photo: Zimbio]

→ 16 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 9-13-2010 at 12:35 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    If Armond White and David Edelstein like it then perhaps it is the flip side of the Inception Effect?

    (Allow me to be facetious).

  • 2 9-13-2010 at 12:48 pm

    Fitz said...

    Wells seem right-on with Hereafter. With his past several films Mr. Eastwood seems to be letting too much go without really stimulating the audience in any significant fashion. Take Invictus for example, it never really went anywhere.

  • 3 9-13-2010 at 12:58 pm

    tintin said...

    He is one of the best directors alive. Period.

  • 4 9-13-2010 at 1:08 pm

    Loyal said...

    So this is Ebert’s outlandish Oscar pony of 2010?

  • 5 9-13-2010 at 1:19 pm

    Gustavo said...

    If Wells says it’s not great, then it’s a masterpiece.

  • 6 9-13-2010 at 1:48 pm

    Josh said...

    Maybe this is me remembering poorly, but didn’t Mystic River have a lot more going for it than Hereafter? I’m not the biggest fan of the film, but it was based on a popular book, had a huge, highly regarded cast, and was liked, if not loved, by many critics.

    Again, my memory could be failing me on the latter aspect, but Hereafter has a lot less of any of that. Damon, of course, is a star, but I feel like if he’s not playing Jason Bourne, he’s not enough to draw in audiences.

  • 7 9-13-2010 at 2:07 pm

    Matthew Starr said...

    Love and Other Drugs screening in NY on Wednesday if anyone is interested.

    http://www.gofobo.com and enter code LAODZ5

  • 8 9-13-2010 at 2:56 pm

    Fitz said...


    Not to step on anyone’s toes, but what I think Kris meant was that Eastwood tried subtly boosting Mystic River by talking down LotR’s special effects.

    His quote about Hereafter is a similar exchange of words he is using to downplay the slow tempo of the film.

  • 9 9-13-2010 at 3:00 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    What’s the last time a “Look, remember the good old days” film actually won Best Picture?

  • 10 9-13-2010 at 3:07 pm

    John H. Foote said...

    I saw the film at TIFF and quite liked it — I know it will have its detractors, but I think Eastwood takes some major risks with the film, the most obvious being it is so far from anything he has ever done before — how sad if directors continued churning out the same sort of film over and over — at 80 the man is hardly lazy, making a film almost every year and two major ones in 2006 — he is among the greatest working in my opinion and made an elegant and haunting film that will have those who did not like it — is that not true of any film? God forbid we all like the same thing.

  • 11 9-13-2010 at 3:53 pm

    Ivan said...

    He is the most overrated director alive. Period.

  • 12 9-13-2010 at 4:59 pm

    Josh said...

    Fitz, you make a good point, and I don’t doubt that may have been Kris’s argument. My counterargument there is that I don’t see that as an argument for any Best Picture frontrunners. Or maybe I’m wrong about Inception’s chances–because I assume that will be nominated, but it’ll never win.

    If a movie like, for example, Social Network is a frontrunner, the “acting is special effects here!” argument falls apart.

  • 13 9-13-2010 at 5:34 pm

    Fitz said...

    Josh, if Social Network is the frontrunner (and at this point I think it is) his argument will probably still be the same regarding “this MTV generation”. With the Academy being older that argument will still stick, even if it’s inaccurate.

  • 14 9-13-2010 at 6:13 pm

    Rashad said...

    Wells sounds extremely idealistic.

  • 15 9-14-2010 at 2:16 am

    the other mike said...

    looks like Kris was echoing Armond White there about certain critics shilling for certain directors or products etc.

  • 16 9-14-2010 at 1:50 pm

    tintin said...

    Hereafter RAVES from Ebert and Mark Adams(Screendaily), Hollywood reporter and positive reviews from The Wrap(Sharon Waxman), Time (Richard Corliss),Variety, Todd Mccarthy(indiewire.deep focus) and headlinerwatch(Lata dar).