Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #17

Re: Clint Eastwood

So, from your comments about the Oscar nominations, I see that Eastwood films aren’t your favorite? Only watchable, not remarkable? Even Unforgiven and Gran Torino? (I can see your reviews for Flags of Our Fathers and Million Dollar Baby.) Can you quickly name a director or two whose films are remarkable, in contrast to Eastwood’s? Thanks!

My sense is that Eastwood pretty consistently directs in the three-star range these days, doing perfectly respectable work without much depth, challenge or surprises. That’s not to say every film of his is in that category. I found the companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, remarkable enough to put on my top 10 for 2006. Gran Torino and Invictus I would put at that typical Eastwood three-star level, along with Changeling and Space Cowboys. Unforgiven is outside the phase in Eastwood’s career I’m considering (I haven’t rewatched it recently enough to be able to comment critically on it).

There are plenty of remarkable directors. To keep it roughly in the apples to apples range, we would want a contemporary director (not someone like Frank Capra, John Ford or Billy Wilder) with a well-established body of work (not a comparatively new talent, like Brad Bird, Wes Anderson or Christopher Nolan) of Hollywood entertainments (not someone like Terrence Malick, Hayao Miyazaki or Werner Herzog).

That narrows the field a bit. Steven Spielberg is an obvious candidate, of course. I hate to say it, but James Cameron is another. Lots of people would mention Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen; I haven’t been crazy about what I’ve seen of their recent work (and I don’t know their older work very well), but there’s an ambition to Scorsese’s recent films that is at least interesting, where Eastwood seems to me to tend to play it safe.

Peter Jackson probably deserves a lifetime achievement award for The Lord of the Rings, which is like six or eight regular films; he remains an interesting filmmaker, though it remains to be seen whether he can be consistently good again. Peter Weir is always interesting, though in his long career he hasn’t made a lot of films. The Coens and Tim Burton are worth mentioning, as uneven and arty as they are.

That’s what comes to mind for now.

Link to this entry

Coming Soon

Recently Added

In Theaters – Latest

In Theaters – All