Archives for posts with tag: Clint Eastwood

Grade B+

 

Manny’s Movie Musings: “Letters From Iwo Jima” is one half of a two movie set about the World War II battle on the island of Iwo Jima. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the movie focuses on the Japanese soldiers’ perspective; and is based on the letters the commanding officer of Iwo Jima wrote to his family.  “Letters…” shows the hopes, fears, and struggle of the island’s defenders in a way that humanizes them.  Strip away the combat and uniforms, and what you have are mostly young men who love their families and just want to go home and live ordinary lives.  Sounds like most people, right?  My most memorable, movie moment of “Letters From Iwo Jima” is the scene when an officer commands his men to commit suicide, and one by one, each grabs a grenade, pulls the safety pin out, and holds the small bomb close to their chest until it explodes.  This is the rare scene in this movie that shows a drastic difference between American and Japanese soldiers in WW II.

— M

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Clint Eastwood directs another winner with “American Sniper,” based on the true story of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle.  Bradley Cooper plays Kyle, a natural-born soldier and hero who racked up the most confirmed kills of any American sniper.  Cooper fights a war on two fronts: the Middle East where he takes to combat like a fish to water, killing so many of the enemy and saving countless lives of American soldiers that he earned the nickname Legend; and the home front where, in between his four combat tours, most of his problems emerge (PTSD, keeping to himself and shutting out his wife, feelings of guilt because he’s not in the war killing the enemy and saving his fellow soldiers).  In his quest to do more than his part in the war against terror, he alienates his family, and risks losing them for good.  A hard choice has to be made, or it will be made for him.

And now for my choice of my top three memorable moments of “American Sniper”: third place goes to the scene when Cooper is holding his baby while having a fight with his wife, played by Sienna Miller.  The baby is clearly a doll.  This entire dramatic scene is ruined because of this plastic, rug rat.  Once you notice the doll, it’s all you can concentrate on.  Cooper even tries to give life to the doll by using his finger to move the doll’s arm!  Supposedly, both baby actors weren’t available.  Okay, I get that things don’t always go as planned in filmmaking…but why the hell did Eastwood use angles that would clearly show the baby was a doll!  This is clearly a master f*#k up from a master director.

Second place for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Cooper and a few American soldiers were on a rooftop, and Cooper shoots an enemy sniper over a mile away and kills him.  Unfortunately, this gives away the position of the Americans to the terrorists below, who swarm the building and begin to surround the outnumbered Americans who were quickly running out of ammo.

Taking first place for my memorable, movie moments of “American Sniper” is the scene very early in the movie when we see Cooper providing cover for Marines who are doing a sweep of the enemy.  Through his scope, Cooper sees an Iraqi woman and a boy (maybe seven-years-old) come out into the street.  She hands the boy an explosive device, and the boy takes it and runs toward the Marines.  Cooper reluctantly kills the boy, then kills the woman when she picks up the explosive and runs toward the Marines.   This is probably the most powerful moment of this movie, inviting debate over many subjects.  However you feel about this war or any war, keep in mind that according to Chris Kyle, he never killed a child, nor would he ever.  He did kill that woman, but a child was not with her.  I understand children get killed in war all the time; but assigning the death of a child to Kyle for dramatic effect tarnishes Kyle’s heroism and legacy.

Some viewers would see Chris Kyle as a war monger, a racist who would call Iraqis savages.  Based on my research, the “savage” term was used against the terrorists, and not the civilians who were just trying to live out their lives as peacefully as possible.  Some people who watch this movie would think of Chris Kyle as a coward for killing people from a long distance.  To those people, I say do your research.  In real life, Kyle was out in the streets many times risking his life to help Marines who were pinned down and taking fire from the insurgents.

“American Sniper” is a great movie about a patriotic American who risked his life countless times to protect fellow soldiers, Iraqi and Afghan civilians from insurgents.  I know we all have our views on war and killing; and some disagree strongly with why Chris Kyle did what he did.  Forget all that…no one can deny this man’s numerous acts of valor.  For this, Chris Kyle deserves to be respected and remembered.

— M

Clint Eastwood stars and directs another movie that is destined to be a classic: “Million Dollar Baby.”  Hilary Swank plays a waitress who has dreams of becoming a prize fighter.  With almost no skills in the sweet science of boxing, Swank starts training herself in a gym owned by Eastwood and managed by Morgan Freeman.

Eastwood plays a veteran trainer of boxers; he is great at what he does, tough but caring of the fighters under his guidance.  Freeman plays a retired fighter who had his shot but never made it.  Not wanting any part of training “a girl,” Eastwood slowly comes around after his only fighter leaves him for another trainer/manager, and after much prodding from Freeman and Swank.  Under the supervision of Eastwood and Freeman, Swank’s natural abilities as a boxer quickly comes out.  She goes pro, usually destroying her opponents in the first round.  But a future fight with a champion who happens to be a very dirty fighter will force Swank to use every bit of advice she received from Eastwood, especially the part about always protecting yourself.

One of my memorable, movie moments of “Million Dollar Baby” is the scene when Eastwood notices the holes in Freeman’s socks.  Eastwood asks why he wears them.  Freeman casually replies that he likes his feet to be aired.  Eastwood asks Freeman that if he gives Freeman money, would Freeman buy socks?  Freeman says the money might find its way into the track.   To the casual observer, this is just a quick bit of comedy relief that shows how two old friends break each other’s  chops.  But this scene is a subtle depiction of a man’s struggle with gambling addiction.

Coming in second place for my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Swank pleads to Eastwood to train her.  Yes, she’s a bit old to start her training — damn, that sounds like something from “The Empire Strikes Back” — and she displays very little boxing ability; but Swank says she has been working hard all her life, and this is the only dream she has and wants.  Without the opportunity to be trained as a boxer and hopefully go pro, she has nothing.  So if Eastwood sees potential in Swank, then train her.  Otherwise, go away.

First place for my memorable, movie moment of “Million Dollar Baby” is the scene when Eastwood finally reveals to Swank what her nickname “Mo cuishle” means.  It is the most powerful moment of the movie, and I’m sure many viewers cried during that scene.  I admit I did.  I didn’t cry like Matt Damon, but I shed a few tears.

Eastwood seems to have the magic touch as a director/actor.  His movies have the ability to stay with you long after they are over.  That comes from the combination of great direction, great acting, a great script…you get the idea.  The Oscars that “Million Dollar Baby” has received are well-deserved.

— M

 

Clint Eastwood plays a prejudiced, Korean War vet who still lives in a neighborhood that has undergone white flight, leaving him with mostly Asian and black neighbors.  As if that wasn’t enough for him to deal with, his wife of many years has recently died, there are Asian gangbangers roaming around, and he has become ill.   He is a gruff man who speaks his mind, doesn’t tolerate different cultures, has no problems saying the word “spooks” to black people and “chinks” and “gooks” to Asians, and believes in buying American.  But…he also believes in giving people a second chance, he loves his old dog, he keeps his home and property clean, is open enough to become friends with  two young siblings who live next door, and he takes pride in keeping his Gran Torino car in immaculate condition.

Bee Vang plays Thao, an intelligent, sensitive, teen-aged boy living next door to Eastwood who is forced by a local gang to try to steal Eastwood’s Gran Torino.   He fails, and is forced by his family to make amends to Eastwood by becoming his servant for several days.  Eastwood eventually takes a liking to the kid, and slowly becomes a father figure to him.   But Eastwood knows Thao has a rough ride ahead of him because the local, Asian gang (the leader of which is Thao’s cousin) wants Thao to join; and the gang is putting tremendous pressure on the boy to do so.   Eastwood also knows that unless the gang disappears, the lives of Thao and his sister will always be in jeopardy.

“Gran Torino” is one of those rare movies that has a main character that stays with you long after the movie has ended.   This is also one of the few movies out of thousands that I’ve seen that I am going to rate a 10 (from a rating of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best).   There may be some Asians who don’t look favorably upon this movie because of all the racial slurs against Asians spoken by Eastwood’s character.  Well, I’m Asian, and I don’t care.   That’s the way the character is supposed to be.  Plus he’s not a Klansman who is looking to do harm to those who are not like him.  He’ll just avoid you if possible, and expect others to do the same to him.    There are many people who have that same viewpoint, and they come in all colors, all cultures.

So what are my memorable movie moments of “Gran Torino?”  I thought you’d never ask.  There are three that I will tell you.  One is the scene where the Asian gang tries to grab Thao from his front porch so they can take him somewhere and teach him to be a an idiot thug like themselves.   Thao’s sister, mother, grandmother and a few neighbors try their best to fight the thugs off; and the brawl spills onto Eastwood’s front lawn, where we see him holding a rifle — an M1 Garand, I believe — and pointing it at a fat thug.  Fat Thug tries to act tough and tells Eastwood to go back into his house.   Eastwood, his eyes lit up like a demon, says to the Fat Thug something like, “I used to stack f@#ks like you five feet high in Korea, use them as sandbags.”  Realizing that he’s crazy enough to start killing all of them, all the thugs back off and leave in their piece of crap Honda Civic with a big, stupid looking wing on the trunk.

The second memorable movie moment is the scene at the end of the movie where Eastwood confronts all the thugs for one last showdown.  Don’t worry, I won’t give any details.   Just know that Eastwood’s strategy was brilliant.  And unpredictable.

My favorite, memorable, movie moment is the sequence where Eastwood carefully polishes his “Gran Torino” until she looks perfect, then he relaxes on his porch, drinking beer as the sun goes down, watching his ride gleam.   I know that satisfied feeling very well.  I usually spend almost 2 hours a week just cleaning and waxing the exterior of my Genesis Coupe, including the wheels.   After my hard work is done, I stare at her, and admire her beauty and everything she symbolizes: art, freedom, power, and most of all…that she’s a part of me.

M

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