Friday 19 February 2010

LACMA and Warner Bros. Presents An Evening with Clint Eastwood

A Big thank you to Warner Brothers for providing me with the superb photos and video below.
LACMA and Warner Bros. Present An Evening with Clint Eastwood Los Angeles County Museum of Art Wednesday February 17th 2010

Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman were among the guests at the L. A. County Museum of Art on Wednesday (Feb. 17) celebrating the debut of the new Clint Eastwood DVD collection (Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros.) and the world premiere of Richard Schickel’s new documentary The Eastwood Factor, a rare candid look at Eastwood and his films, narrated by Morgan Freeman. Event also brought attention to Eastwood’s longtime association with Warner Bros. and to LACMA's retrospective of Eastwood films continuing through Feb. 26.

Special guests included: Richard Schickel, Barry Meyer, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros.Alan (and Cindy) Horn, President & Chief Operating Officer of Warner Bros. Kevin Tsujihara, President of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.Ronald Sanders, President, Warner Home Video. Mark Horak, President of Warner Home Video North America.Jeffrey Baker, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Warner Home Video Theatrical Catalog.Robert A. (Bob) Daly and Terry Semel, Former Chairmen of Warner Bros.
Below: Clint and Morgan Freeman

Below: Clint and long time friend Robert Daly

Below: Actress and co-star of Eastwood's Bird, Diane Venora arrives

Below: The DVD set 35 Films 35 Years and Richard Schickel's upcoming book

Below: L to R Bob Daly, Terry Semel, Morgan Freeman, Richard Schickel, Clint Eastwood, Barry Meyer and Alan Horn

Below: Morgan Freeman, Richard Schickel, Clint Eastwood and Jeff Baker

Below: L to R Terry Semel, Barry Meyer, Clint Eastwood, Richard Schickel, Morgan Freeman, Alan Horn and Bob Daly

Below: Morgan looking as cool as ever..

Below: The Beautiful actress Jennifer Taylor arrives

Below: Producer Mace Neufeild is among the guests

Below: Terry Semel and Clint Eastwood

Below: Jeff Baker

Below: Terry Semel

Below: Alan Horn and Barry Meyer

Below: Barry Meyer

Below: Alan Horn

Below: One of the great poster designs inside the L. A. County Museum

Below: Jeff Baker gives the poster some scale!

From the LACMA
WEEKEND SERIES The Essential Clint Eastwood February 12 - February 26
"I suppose Clint Eastwood is the most underrated director in the world today... an actor like Eastwood is such a pure type of mythic hero-star in the Wayne tradition that no one is going to take him seriously as a director. But someone ought to say it. And when I saw The Outlaw Josey Wales for the fourth time, I realized that it belongs with the great Westerns... And I take my hat off to him."—Orson Welles.
To mark the release of a DVD boxed set of thirty-five Warner Bros. films directed by or starring Clint Eastwood, LACMA presents a weekend series comprised of nine films, plus four matinees. Starting with genre films-the cop thrillers (Dirty Harry) and westerns (The Outlaw Josey Wales) that brought him early acclaim-the series culminates with his mature dramas Honkytonk Man, Unforgiven, Bird, and White Hunter, Black Heart, all of which represent a remarkable range of subject matter. A masterful storyteller and an effortless practitioner of classical mise-en-scene, Eastwood has earned a place in film history among such classically American directors as John Ford, Howard Hawks, King Vidor, and John Huston.
Below: Inside of the L. A. County Museum, some wonderful Eastwood displays

Our thanks to Clint Eastwood, Richard Schickel, and Warner Home Entertainment for their generous assistance in making this series possible.

Thursday 18 February 2010

Clint Eastwood 35 Films 35 Years

Clint Eastwood 35 Films 35 Years Release date February 16th 2010

Click below to see the official trailer

Eastwood’s illustrious motion picture career has spanned more than half century and has touched generations of filmgoers. Warner Home Video will celebrate Eastwood and his 35-year association with the studio through Malpaso Productions with a comprehensive, elegant gift set, Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros., to be released February 16th 2010.

The collection, considered the largest feature film box set ever released for a single artist, contains 34 classic Eastwood films from the Warner library and highlights the breadth and depth of his work – from Where Eagles Dare through Gran Torino. Included are his ‘Dirty Harry’ movies, his Best Picture Oscar dramas and nominees, his westerns, his war movies, his comedies, and more.

Also included is the 35th film, The Eastwood Factor, an intimate short film from Time magazine critic and film historian Richard Schickel. The Eastwood Factor presents Eastwood in a way he is rarely seen – visiting film locations or sites where his movies were created, and on the Warner lot visiting the costume department and Eastwood Scoring Stage, as well as at his home. Eastwood’s candid, intelligent and often humorous interviews about his body of work and the choices he made, along with Schickel’s selection of scenes from his movies (Including his latest Invictus), results in an up close and personal portrait of one of the great icons of our era. The end result is a clear reminder of why Eastwood’s career as both a great filmmaker and actor has been so enduring and his work so respected.

The Box set will also include a 24-page booklet extracted from Richard Schickel’s new monograph Clint: A Retrospective (which I hope to review in full), as well as studio letters and photos. Packed in a 20 page double-wide album, Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros, will contain 19 discs and will sell for $179.98.

Film Titles in the collection Include:
Where Eagles Dare 1968
Kelly’s Heroes 1970

Dirty Harry 1971

Magnum Force 1973
The Enforcer 1976

The Outlaw Josey Wales 1976
The Gauntlet 1977
Every which way but Loose 1978
Bronco Billy 1980
Any which way you Can 1980
Honkytonk Man 1982
Firefox 1982
Sudden Impact 1983
City Heat 1984

Tightrope 1984
Pale Rider 1985
Heartbreak Ridge 1986
Bird 1988
The Dead Pool 1988
Pink Cadillac 1989
White Hunter, Black Heart 1990
The Rookie 1990
Unforgiven 1992
A Perfect World 1993
The Bridges of Madison County 1995
Absolute Power 1997
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 1997
True Crime 1999
Space Cowboys 2000

Blood Work 2002
Mystic River 2003
Million Dollar Baby 2004
Letters from Iwo Jima 2006
Gran Torino 2008
The Eastwood Factor (Short Film) 2009

Select titles from Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros, will also be available for down load via iTunes, Xbox Live, Zune Marketplace, Amazon Video on Demand and other digital retailers as well as on DVD.

Check out the official site at

A Big Thanks to Warner Brothers for providing us with the material to review.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Eastwood Interviewed # 6 Daily Telegragh Interview Feb 3rd 2010

By Will Lawrence Feb 3rd 2010
On the eve of his 80th birthday and the release of his film Invictus, Clint Eastwood talks about politics, monogamy and the woman who finally made him grow up.
As hard as it is to imagine today, Clint Eastwood was once a little boy. And a pretty unexceptional one at that. 'I always joke that back then my teachers were like, “Mrs Eastwood, your son, he is just slow”,’ Eastwood tells me.
The actor, writer and film-maker will be 80 in May, yet the man sitting in this Los Angeles hotel room could easily pass for a young-looking 65.
His crinkly skin is slightly leathery in texture − courtesy of a life spent on film locations and golf courses − but his blue eyes are bright and, at a still-lean six-feet-four, he remains an imposing presence.
This is the fourth time I’ve met him and he talks as quietly and succinctly as ever, delivering short pithy lines with his clipped, gravely tones. He’s no great shakes as an anecdotalist and can be a little taciturn at times. But slow? Never.
Eastwood doesn’t smoke ('only in movies’), has never done drugs ('they just weren’t my thing’), and attributes his rude health to a twice-daily meditation routine and a diet that scrimps on red meat.
He was recently named one of the world’s most stylish men by the American edition of GQ, yet today Eastwood’s cool is seriously compromised by a slightly fuddy-duddy windcheater.

'I guess I’m still a blue-collar guy,’ he laughs. Joking aside, Eastwood is justifiably proud of his working-class upbringing ('I have worked ever since I was 13’) and an underdog story easily as compelling as any from his films.

He was born in 1930 in San Francisco, California, but spent much of his childhood on the move. 'When I was born, the economy wasn’t in a great state, it was the Depression and my father had to be quick to try and find work,’ he says.
'Everyone was looking for work at that time. He sold stocks and bonds, and was always moving from one company to another, looking for new opportunities, to better himself, and to give us a better chance.’
Eastwood remembers a time that his father moved his young family 450 miles across California, from Sacramento to Pacific Palisades, so that he could take a job pumping petrol at a gas station.

'Saying that, though, I don’t really remember things being particularly tough as a child. We didn’t go hungry – we were fed and played with whatever was around. I’m sure my father did have lots of worries, but my sister and I didn’t really know about them.’

His father’s work ethic, however, still made a strong impression on his son. Even today, Eastwood is one of the most prolific directors of his generation, making no fewer than 14 films since 1992’s Unforgiven and much of his success can be traced to an innate understanding of working-class values (consider 1982’s Honkytonk Man, for example), forged while working alongside his father in steel mills and lumber yards in his early twenties.

Clinton Eastwood snr died in 1970; at the time his son was a leading man, but no more. One of Eastwood’s great regrets is that his father didn’t live long enough to see him blossom into the film-maker he has become (his mother lived until she was 97, and while she was alive Eastwood spoke to her every day).
What did his father think of his son becoming an actor? 'He thought it was a stupid idea,’ he says. 'But he was of a different generation, a different era. He never fantasised. But I have always been that kind of a guy. I am a good listener. I think that came from my schooling.

'When I was growing up I wasn’t an extrovert. If anything I was an introverted kid, and a very average pupil at school. I was very quiet. My dad, though, he was the opposite; he was very outgoing. People really loved him. He was spectacular, in fact, and he would have been a great actor. That would have been something to see; he would have enjoyed every minute of it.’
Following his father’s wishes, he graduated from high school and had intended to study music at the University of Seattle, until he was drafted into the Army at the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. He never saw action, but he did nearly lose his life.

It was the summer of that year and Eastwood’s parents were living in Seattle. He had met a girl when on a visit home and decided to see her again, hitching a ride with a naval plane going north. On the return journey, however, things began to go wrong.
'It was a naval torpedo bomber – there were no seats – and I had to squeeze into the radar compartment on the plane,’ Eastwood says.
'It wasn’t designed to house humans and once crammed inside, thousands of feet up, the door below him sprung open, leaving him exposed. He reached for the intercom; it didn’t work. 'I nearly fell out,’ he grimaces. 'I was a mile up holding on for dear life.’ After wedging the door shut, Eastwood clung on. But the plane climbed higher, forcing him to reach for the oxygen. It didn’t work.
He passed out, coming to an hour or so later only to discover the pilot, out of fuel, about to crash-land into the sea. Eastwood was thrown free, and fought a fierce current to drag himself towards the shore.
'I don’t recall how long it took to get out, but as I’ve said, it was an ordeal I never want to repeat,’ he recalls in the most matter-of-fact way possible. 'I collapsed on the beach.’

All this for a girl. Have women always been his weakness? 'Maybe that’s true,’ he shrugs. 'I think I became hooked on girls at a fairly early age. 'Certainly that’s where the interest in music comes from.’
Eastwood is an accomplished musician and a fine pianist, directing 1988’s Bird, a biopic of jazz legend Charlie Parker, and also scored several of his own films.
When he was young he realised that 'if you were at a party and could sit down at the piano and play a few numbers, girls seemed to like that.’ He laughs. 'So I’d listen to the records out at the time and learn to play along. It’s funny, but even then, as a mediocre student, I knew that I would do OK – there was something out there waiting for me.’

Not that this was immediately apparent. After his discharge from the Army, Eastwood drifted around working in the aforementioned mills, digging ditches and cleaning swimming pools.

In 1953 he married his first wife, journalist Maggie Johnson, and soon after met director Arthur Lubin, who liked Eastwood’s demeanour. A few small television parts followed and in 1958 he finally got his big break, on the cowboy serial Rawhide, which ran until 1966.

'It was like an apprenticeship for me,’ he says. 'I learnt the nuts and bolts of film-making and, more importantly, really learnt what I wanted to do.’
In 1963 he started work on his first film, Sergio Leone’s Italian/Spanish/German production A Fistful of Dollars, for which he was paid $15,000 and received an additional credit as 'Western Consultant’.

'I’ve always trusted my instincts, and with the spaghetti westerns, I just thought it would be good to go to Spain and see how films were made in other countries,’ he says. 'I wanted to learn. I guess that you could call me a late starter, and I think that’s why there was such a sense of urgency for me.’
He was already in his mid-thirties, and when he finally decided that he’d like to try his hand at directing, with DJ-stalker movie Play Misty for Me, he was already 40 years old.

'People didn’t really do that at the time, go from actor to director,’ he continues. 'There were precedents, Stan Laurel for one, but it was not something that was very common.’
And yet he proved wonderfully adept, his time spent in television at a mature age taught him how to make films quickly and efficiently. He is proud of the fact that even now, after 30-plus films in the director’s chair, he has never gone over budget or over schedule.

But for all his popularity he didn’t earn Academy recognition until he was 62, when his revisionist horse opera Unforgiven galloped off into the sunset with the statues for Best Picture and Best Director. 'I knew that the time was right for me to make Unforgiven,’ he says, 'although I didn’t think it’d make any money.’ The film took $150million.

Eastwood is less proud of the way he has conducted his personal life. As the five mothers of his seven children will attest, he’s often found monogamy difficult. He remains friends with four of them, although not with Sandra Locke, his long-term lover and author of the tell-all book The Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly.

In 1996 he married his current wife, Dina Ruiz, a former television anchorwoman, 35 years his junior; the couple’s daughter, Morgan Eastwood, was born in the December of the same year. And Eastwood is now, finally, 'living in my state of monogamy quite happily’.

'Dina is everything I ever wanted and never found anywhere else,’ he smiles. 'It took me until I was 65 to find her. Like they said at school, I’m a little slow – it takes me longer to do things. But, because I have had children at an older age, I’ve had time to learn patience that I didn’t have earlier in my life when I was more ambitious.’

And yet he is still driven today. When we meet, his latest film, Invictus – the 67th he’s made; his 31st as director – is about be released.

The film’s posters feature a muscular Matt Damon, bedecked in the green and gold jersey of the South African rugby team, while the movie itself is brimming with on-field action, including a bone-crunching 12-minute sequence at the story’s conclusion that re-enacts the Springboks’ unlikely 1995 World Cup Final victory over Jonah Lomu’s all-conquering All Blacks.

But the director insists that he has not made a sports movie. 'This project wasn’t approached because of rugby, just like Million Dollar Baby wasn’t approached because of female boxing,’ Eastwood says.

'It’s the story of the use of the game – that’s what attracted me to the project, and to rugby. For me, the story is about the use of a game for reconciliation in a country that was on the verge of civil war when Nelson Mandela took office.
'If he had proceeded with a more military attitude, he would have probably had sympathy there because they had been under apartheid for so long. But Mandela, being a very special person, saw it a different way and he was looking for other ways to reconcile the country and bring it together.’

Adapted from the book Playing the Enemy by journalist John Carlin, Invictus charts Mandela’s bid to unite his people behind the Springboks’ tilt at rugby glory during the 1995 World Cup – the first major sporting event to be held in the post-apartheid country.

And while this might sound like a sensible plan, it was plagued with problems, not least by the fact that the vast majority of black South Africans regarded the national rugby team’s green and gold jerseys as symbols of white supremacy.
Eastwood casts old friend Morgan Freeman as Mandela, with Damon as South African rugby legend Fran├žois Pienaar. To his credit, he does not gloss over the fact that for all his political and humanitarian excellence, Mandela had his faults.
Like Eastwood, he’s a hero with a particular flaw: 'He wasn’t successful in his marriage, in his relationship with his daughter, and other children that he had,’ says Eastwood, who met Mandela on the Invictus set. 'And I think he has a lot of regret about that sort of thing, but he gave himself to his country.’

As with his 2008 film Gran Torino, which he starred in and directed, his latest offering deals with race. 'That is coincidence,’ he says. 'All the story material comes to you coincidentally.

'It was like when I did Flags Of Our Fathers and turning straight round and doing Letters from Iwo Jima from another point of view. Mandela had been in prison for years and comes out and there’s the most unusual thing, almost biblical, where he turns the other cheek.’

When shooting his two Second World War films, Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, Eastwood came under attack from Spike Lee, who claimed that the director overlooked African-American soldiers who fought in the Pacific theatre: 'If he wishes I could assemble African-American men who fought at Iwo Jima and I’d like him to tell these guys that what they did was insignificant.’
Eastwood responded by accusing Lee of historical ignorance and suggesting that Lee should 'shut his face’.

Thanks to hard-guy films like the Dirty Harry series, many perceive Eastwood as a huntin’, shootin’ conservative in the Charlton Heston mould. Eastwood, however, considers himself a 'social libertarian. Leave everybody alone. Quit trying to force everything down everybody’s throat.’

And he is a true animal lover, claiming that the last thing to move him to tears was the death of his daughter’s white cockatoo. His family currently includes 'chickens and birds and a rabbit; the rabbit follows me everywhere.’
For all its persistence, the rabbit will have to cope by itself for a month or two; its owner is already gearing up for his next movie, Hereafter, in which he re-teams with Damon (whom Eastwood praises as 'one of the better young actors’). The film, currently shrouded in secrecy, is a taut thriller which will shoot both in Britain and the United States.

'It is a contemporary piece. It’s three different stories with people who have gone through some sort of stressful time and it’s about how they sort of converge together. Much like a lot of French movies have been in the past, where the stories kind of converge together, and destiny drives each person towards the other.
'I keep finding interesting stories, or they come to me, so I’ll keep making movies.’

But what about his acting? He starred in, as well as directed, Gran Torino, but is he now done?

'I don’t know. I never know what’s the last one, but I’m at the age where they don’t write a lot of great roles for people and I’m happy at the back of the camera. I don’t have to wear a tie, nobody is coming in saying, “this won’t match”, and so, there are a lot of advantages.’

He laughs, fiddling with the buttons on his windcheater. Not that he’s ruled out the possibility of being a leading man again: 'I’m like Jaws 2. Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water…’

Press here for the complete Eastwood Interviewed Index

Thursday 4 February 2010

Eastwood Interviewed # 5 For a few Millions More... LA Weekly December 16th 2004

In his 24th film since Play Misty for Me, Clint Eastwood is still working on Hollywood’s longest second act.
by Scott Foundas

There are things on the Warner Bros. lot older than Clint Eastwood. The earliest sound stages, for example, date back to 1926, when First National Pictures broke ground on some former alfalfa fields the studio had purchased from a dentist by the name of David Burbank. But by the time Jack Warner bought First National and, in 1930, moved his own fledgling studio from Hollywood to the Burbank property, a few hundred miles away in San Francisco, a newly minted baby boy called Clinton Eastwood Jr. was already taking his first breaths. Forty-five years later, a handshake deal would see Eastwood move his production company into a modest bungalow on a leafy corner of the Warner lot, and he’s been there ever since, as reliable as the studio’s famous water tower. The company is called Malpaso, after a creek located near Eastwood’s Carmel home, and it is here that I don’t find Eastwood on the early December afternoon he has chosen for our interview. "Clint’s running a few minutes late — he’s still at lunch," I’m told by an assistant.

"Clint," of course, isn’t exactly your average interview subject. The recipient of Oscars for directing and producing 1992’s Unforgiven, the subject of career tributes by both the American and British film institutes, and a top box-office draw for the better part of his 50-year career, he is as close as one can get nowadays to being movie-industry royalty, an emperor in khaki pants, golf shirt and Panama hat. He is also Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name, and over the years such formidable personages as Muhammad Ali and Israeli diplomat Abba Eban have reportedly been reduced to abject fandom in his presence. Yet, as you step through Malpaso’s elegantly woodcut double doors, it’s hard not to be struck by the informality of the place. Magazines about airplanes and exotic cars, and a few picture books of the Monterey Peninsula, adorn a coffee table in front of a too-cushiony sofa. Over in the corner, a pair of adjustable-weight dumbbells rest upon their rack. It looks as much the lair of the former mayor of Carmel as of one of the biggest movie stars in the world. Undoubtedly, it’s a place Harry Callahan would find far too cozy for comfort.

Moments later, that familiar, sandpapery whisper can be heard emanating from an interior room. A few minutes after that, Eastwood appears — all 6 feet, 4 inches of him. As many have remarked, Eastwood looks exceptionally good for his age — the result, no doubt, of his famously strict diet and exercise regimens, coupled with the requisite good genes. His dad was, after all, a steelworker, and his mother, Ruth, is still going strong in her 90s. (She was — along with Eastwood’s wife, Diana Ruiz — her son’s date to the 2004 Oscar ceremony.) But it should also be noted (and it is hardly news to anyone who has seen his recent films) that Eastwood does look his age — a good, even great, 74 is 74 nonetheless — in an industry where the notion of growing old gracefully is anathema.

In the Ring: Hilary Swank
"Other than a belt sander, there’s nothing they can do for me," Eastwood jokes as we adjourn to his private office. "Plastic surgery used to be a thing where older people would try to go into this dream world of being 28 years old again. But now, in Hollywood, even people at 28 are having work done. Society has made us believe you should look like an 18-year-old model all your life. But I figure I might as well just be what I am." Indeed, just being himself — or, rather, an exhausted, vulnerable version of himself — has become something of an Eastwood specialty in recent years, and if it seems nearly impossible to talk about Eastwood without his age becoming a focus of the discussion, that’s largely his own doing. From the poked and prodded, over-the-hill astronaut of Space Cowboys to the detective who undergoes emergency heart surgery in Blood Work, it’s hard to think of another movie star who has taken such sly pleasure in chipping away at his own aura of granite invincibility.

Long before Clint earned his first gray hairs and wrinkle lines, however, he seemed drawn to material with an air of fatalism to it. Twice in his career — in High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider— he has cast himself as a kind of ghost. But even when their characters have been mere mortals, Eastwood has shown an affinity for outsider types striving to uphold some nearly extinct way of life — from the frontier towns of the Old West to the tight-knit Irish-Catholic neighborhoods of present-day Boston. Thus it was possible, when watching Eastwood’s 1990 White Hunter, Black Heart, to wonder if the director felt closer to his subject, John Huston, or to the elephant that was the object of Huston’s obsessive pursuit — a majestic creature forgotten by time. Such themes are also central to Million Dollar Baby, the 25th film Eastwood has directed, and one of his very best. (It is also, for the record, the 57th film in which he has acted, the 21st he has produced and the 10th for which this noted jazz aficionado has composed some or all of the original music.) Grizzled and gray, Eastwood’s Frankie Dunn is a Los Angeles fight trainer and "cut man" forever shadowboxing with the demons of his past. Somewhere, there is a grown daughter who, for reasons the movie never feels compelled to specify, Frankie hasn’t seen or talked to in years. His best fighters have a habit of leaving him for other managers just before they hit the big time. His only real friend is a similarly washed-up ex-boxer (Morgan Freeman) whose career was cut short when he lost the sight in his right eye to a knockout punch. And though Frankie has attended Mass every day for the last 23 years, doing so has stirred up more questions than answers. It’s perhaps the most emotionally and existentially complex character Eastwood — who once told Meryl Streep, "People don’t want to see me cry onscreen" — has played, even if it is a variant on a character he has played many times in the past: the hard man in the ill-fitting suit, the eternal range rider who can’t be domesticated. It’s a role that so sparked Eastwood’s interest, he momentarily scuttled thoughts he had been entertaining of retiring from screen acting.

"I saw it as a challenge," Eastwood says. "It’s one thing to play a soldier who goes out shooting at people. It’s another thing to play a soldier who’s got some other dimension as to why he’s there in the first place, where he’s been in the past and where he’s going. This role had that. And it’s very ambiguous at the end — you don’t know where he is, you don’t know where it all goes. Look, I’m not going to go remake Every Which Way but Loose as a 74-year-old man. What’s the advantage of maturing as a filmmaker if you don’t take advantage of it, do things you haven’t done before? I couldn’t have played Frankie Dunn as a 35-year-old guy."

Adapted from the short-story collection Rope Burns, by the late F.X. Toole (the pen name of veteran fight trainer Jerry Boyd), Million Dollar Baby focuses on the relationship between Dunn and Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank, in a brilliant performance), a promising female fighter whose passion causes Frankie to grudgingly lift his embargo on training "girls." As they work together, Frankie and Maggie engage in a sort of ethereal ballet, between a father and the daughter he’s never known, and between a daughter and the loving father who died too young. (Perhaps Eastwood is here playing a ghost for the third time.) But those expecting to find, in Million Dollar Baby, an estrogen-intensive variant of Rocky or The Karate Kid are sure to be disappointed. Though the movie’s boxing sequences, in which Eastwood strips the soundtrack of nearly all but the heart-shuddering thunder of the fighters’ punches, rank among the most searing that have been put on film. Like Toole’s stories, Million Dollar Baby is also thick with the sweaty, hardscrabble reality of smalltime boxing clubs and undercard bouts. It knows how boxers fight their hearts out before audiences of mostly empty chairs for purses that are barely enough to pay the month’s rent, as they yearn for a title bout that may never come. While there is triumph in Eastwood’s film, it is of the sort that comes at a high price.

It’s tough medicine, and Million Dollar Baby was a tough picture to get made, despite Eastwood’s clout and the combined critical (six Oscar nominations, two wins) and commercial success (more than $150 million at the box office worldwide) of last year’s Mystic River. Which, as Eastwood is quick to point out, is nothing new. "I liked the Million Dollar Baby script a lot," he says. "Warner Bros. said the project had been submitted to them and they’d passed on it. I said, ‘But I like it.’ They said, ‘Well, it’s a boxing movie.’ And I said, ‘It’s not a boxing movie in my opinion. It’s a father-daughter love story, and it’s a lot of other things besides a boxing movie.’ They hemmed and hawed and finally said that if I wanted to take it, maybe they’d pay for the domestic rights only. After that, I’d be on my own. [The rest of the funding was eventually secured through the international sales company Lakeshore Entertainment.] We took it to a couple of other studios, and they turned it down, much like Mystic River was turned down — the exact same pattern. People who kept calling and saying, ‘Come on, work with us on stuff.’ I’d give it to them, and they’d go, ‘Uh, we were thinking more in terms of Dirty Harry coming out of retirement.’ And who knows? Maybe when it comes out they’ll be proven right."

In the introduction to Rope Burns, Toole writes about "the magic of winning and losing in a man’s game, where men will battle with their minds and bodies and hearts into and beyond exhaustion, past their second wind, through cracked ribs and swollen livers, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas." He might just as soon have been talking about making movies. "I think I’m on a track of doing pictures nobody wants to do, that they’re all afraid of," chuckles Eastwood. "I guess it’s the era we live in, where they’re doing remakes of Dukes of Hazzard and other old television shows. I must say, I’m not a negative person, but sometimes I wonder what kind of movies people are going to be making 10 years from now if they follow this trajectory. When I grew up there was such a variety of movies being made. You could go see Sergeant York or Sitting Pretty or Sullivan’s Travels — dozens of pictures, not to mention all the great B movies. Now, they’re looking for whatever the last hit was. If it’s The Incredibles, they want The Double Incredibles. My theory is they ought to corral writers into writers’ buildings like they used to and start out with fresh material."

Above: French director Bertrand Tavernier, Clint and Pierre Rissient on the last day of the Lumiere 2009 Grand Lyon Film Festival October 18th 2009
Asked to pinpoint the appeal of Eastwood’s films, the noted French film critic, publicist and distributor Pierre Rissient, who has known Eastwood personally since the 1960s and has worked on the promotional campaigns for a number of his films, says, "It’s their classicism. His pictures stand the test of time because they don’t try to be trendy or modernist. He just makes the films, in the tradition of the great storytellers of the ’30s and ’40s." Clint Eastwood is now something of a classic himself, a cultural icon as chiseled into our collective consciousness as any of the faces on Mount Rushmore. Yet such was not always the case. A $75-a-week contract player at Universal in the 1950s, Eastwood floundered in bit parts in pictures like Revenge of the Creature and Francis in the Navy. Then, in 1959, he landed a supporting role in the Rawhide television series, where he would remain until the show’s 1966 cancellation — excepting one summer production hiatus when Eastwood, frustrated by the one-dimensionality of his character on the show, made the impulsive decision that would lay the groundwork for the rest of his career. Not speaking a word of Italian, and for a salary of only $15,000, he boarded a plane to Rome to play the lead role in a "spaghetti Western" with the working title The Mysterious Stranger. That film, of course, turned out to be Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, the international success of which (coupled with that of its two celebrated sequels, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) helped give Eastwood a second shot in Hollywood pictures — one he wasn’t about to squander.

Director and former film critic Curtis Hanson has recalled how, upon paying a visit to the production of Coogan’s Bluff (1968) —the first of Eastwood’s five collaborations with director Don Siegel — he was struck by Eastwood’s habit of remaining on the set in between setups and even during the filming of scenes he wasn’t in. Already, just two years before forming Malpaso and three before directing (at Siegel’s urging) his own debut feature, Play Misty for Me, Clint was an eager student and a tireless observer. No matter a business that religiously favors the present moment, Clint seemed to be planning for the future, as though, well before employing it as the ad line for his 1988 Charlie Parker biopic, Bird, he already had in mind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s epigram "There are no second acts in American lives." "At that stage of life, you don’t know what old is," Eastwood says. "When I was starting to do Play Misty, I thought, ‘In a few years, when I’m 45, I’ll be old, because I’m 40 now.’ I had no idea I’d still be working at this age. Great guys who I admired — Billy Wilder, for example, nobody was hiring him in his late 60s, and here’s a man who lived to be 95! You never know, either you go out of touch with reality or people just get tired of hiring you, figure there’s some young, 25-year-old guy who can do it better. I think you’ve got to always expand on what you’re doing. You’ve got to stay open-minded."

And so Eastwood has managed to stay one step ahead of his own best game. In 1971, the same year Clint directed Play Misty and teamed with Siegel for the first of the Dirty Harry movies, he and Siegel also took time out to make The Beguiled, a deeply unsettling Southern Gothic about a wounded Union soldier who is rescued by the residents of a girls’ boarding school, only to find himself the catalyst in a churning spiral of duplicity and desire. The film was a commercial failure in the U.S., but it was compelling evidence that Eastwood longed to break away from (or at least play improvisations on) his image as the strong, silent type — that, like Charlie Parker, he wasn’t about to be pigeonholed. "Maybe that’s why I have an affinity for jazz," Eastwood says. "I grew up watching all those guys who didn’t seem to give a crap about what the latest style was. Musicians were playing what they wanted to play, what they were challenged by. If they were playing what the audience wanted, they would have done something much simpler. I remember the first time I ever heard Charlie Parker, I thought, ‘God, I don’t know what he’s doing, but I want to understand it.’ So I made the effort."
Critics were less than quick to catch on. "You don’t get embarrassed by anything Clint Eastwood does; he’s so hollow you don’t have to feel a thing," wrote Pauline Kael in the 1970s, maintaining a position on Eastwood she had staked out early on and would hold for the duration of her career (and, for that matter, into her retirement). But audiences too tended to steer shy whenever Clint tried to show he could be more than the "block of marble" to which Sergio Leone once likened him. Two of his best films as director — the lyrical dustbowl tragedy Honkytonk Man and the quixotic rodeo comedy Bronco Billy — remain obscure to this day. For his part, though, Eastwood has maintained an ambivalent stance on the subject of recognition. "I’ve got to play my own hand," he says, "and if somebody else sees me — be it today or 30 years ago — as one presupposed thing, that’s their prerogative. I can’t do anything about that. The fact that the work is now taken seriously, maybe it took a while, maybe there are certain things I’ve done that were stupid. Maybe I’ve changed. Maybe they’ve changed. Hopefully, everybody grows, everybody changes, life goes on." In truth, there had been an unacknowledged tenderness and humanity in Eastwood’s work even before some, particularly in European cinephile circles, began to take note. Helping in no small measure to turn the tide was Clint’s fourth feature as director, 1976’s The Outlaw Josey Wales. Set at the end of the Civil War, Josey Wales is a picaresque odyssey in which the eponymous farmer, devastated by the murder of his wife and child, journeys across America searching for revenge, but also for a larger sense of purpose. It is a great film, marked by a Fordian eye for Western landscapes and a real feeling for how people might come to feel betrayed and displaced within the borders of their own country, from Josey’s Cherokee sidekick to his Confederate traveling companions to the denizens of the divided, post-Vietnam nation into which the film was released.

In the ensuing years, Eastwood has developed a reputation as a professional of the first rank, prized for the efficiency of his production methods, the lucidity of his directorial style, the familial atmosphere of his sets — he has repeatedly worked with the same artistic collaborators, including 89-year-old production designer Henry Bumstead — and for his mentoring of new talent.

"I didn’t realize until much later that not only was he giving me this incredible trust and this absolutely unbelievable chance, but that I was learning from him," says Michael Cimino, whose debut feature, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, starred Eastwood and was produced by Malpaso. "He’s a natural teacher, and he doesn’t second-guess himself. It’s a combination of encouragement and discipline. He would say to me, ‘Look, if you need 20 takes of something, I’ll give it to you, but if I do 20 takes, don’t print take number one.’ I learned economy from Clint. And despite the amount of footage that was shot on Heaven’s Gate — and there were a lot of reasons for that — almost all of my other movies have been ahead of schedule and under budget."
If Eastwood’s own career has hardly been immune to critical and commercial disappointments (like 1997’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), it has likewise been remarkable for its generous ratio of risk to reward, in which personal projects like Bird and White Hunter, Black Heart— both of which reside at the dark, unsentimental extreme of films made by "bankable" directors — have been balanced against more mainstream fare. Meanwhile, time and again, Eastwood returned to the genre where he had sowed his acting oats, before putting an elegant capstone on traditional Western storytelling with Unforgiven, a movie that is itself an elegy for the end of the American West. But even before Unforgiven, Eastwood was already involved in telling another type of Western story — stories in which the frontier had moved from the wide-open spaces of yesteryear to the cramped environs of our modern times. Until, in Mystic River — the most revisionist take on frontier life Eastwood has yet made — the frontier has all but vanished, leaving behind only its self-preservationist psychology. And with these new Westerns came new cowboys, in the form of John Huston, Charlie Parker and Frankie Dunn.

In some ways as bleak and morally ambiguous a film as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby is also Eastwood’s most emotionally overwhelming achievement since his 1993 road movie, A Perfect World, which was about fathers and sons in much the same way Million Dollar Baby is about fathers and daughters. A full-blown character piece, freed from the procedural plotting that sometimes grounded Mystic River, it throws extraordinary, blindsiding counterpunches of brutality and tenderness, boxing movie and family melodrama, navigating perilous shifts in tempo and tone with the effortlessness of a veteran jazz soloist. "He doesn’t have to prove anything anymore," says Rissient. "He doesn’t have to worry about his career as a star, and he can really focus on filmmaking. He has a freedom — not a freedom in terms of studio support, but a freedom with himself." Eastwood agrees: "There’s a friend of mine who always says, ‘When you’re 70, what can they do to you?’ There’s something to that." Put simply, Million Dollar Baby finds Eastwood "in the zone," both in front of and behind the camera, up to and including a haunting final image that feels very much like it could, if he wanted it to, be Eastwood’s way of saying farewell not just to acting but to movies in general.

"Everything shrinks with age," remarks one character midway through Heartbreak Ridge, Eastwood’s felicitous 1986 satire about the changing face of the U.S. Marine Corps. Well, maybe not everything, unless you count an inch or so off the top of Eastwood’s imposing stature. At 74, he’s already older than Leone and Siegel were when they directed their last films, and just about the age Ford and Hawks were when they bowed out. He’s had his shot, and he’s done more than all right. But as Eastwood finds himself the subject of substantial Oscar buzz for Million Dollar Baby and already prepping his next project, about the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, he seems poised to do anything but call it quits.

Looking out at me with his famously narrow eyes and twisted half-smile, Eastwood muses, "Will I ride off into the sunset? Maybe. Will I be dragged off kicking and screaming? Probably."

Press here for the complete Eastwood Interviewed Index

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Hereafter 2010

George (Matt Damon) is a ‘handsome, shy, soft-spoken’ factory worker who can talk to the dead but prefers not to. Meanwhile, across the world, two different plotlines play out that are touched by tragedy:
Beautiful French journalist Marie (Cecile De France) recovers from a near-death experience in the 2004 tsunami, then becomes increasingly gripped with questions about what she saw before she was revived. At the same time in London, a drug-addicted English single mother, played by Lyndsey Marshal, loses one of her twin 10-year-old sons in a car accident…
The three parallel stories eventually intersect: three lonely people, cut off from the ones they love, searching for answers about what lies beyond life.
Below: Hereafter 2010 UK Quad Poster design 30 x 40

Below: Hereafter 2010 Blu ray / DVD / Digital combo release from Warner Home Video Inc Extended version of The Eastwood Factor in Full HD

Below: Hereafter Japanese mini poster design (Front and Back)

I've found around 50 shots so far of Clint filming in London (from October 2009) and a couple while filming in Chamonix. The shots were obviously taken between set ups, are nothing too exciting, so I'll just post a few here for now.

In an interview with LA Weekly, Eastwood elaborated:

"There's a certain charlatan aspect to the hereafter, to those who prey on people's beliefs that there's some afterlife, and mankind doesn't seem to be willing to accept that this is your life and you should do the best you can with it and enjoy it while you’re here, and that'll be enough. There has to be immortality or eternal life and embracing some religious thing. I don't have the answer. Maybe there is a hereafter, but I don't know, so I approach it by not knowing. I just tell the story."

Hereafter went into production in October 2009 in Paris (coinciding with a November ceremony in which Eastwood was made a French Legion of Honor Commander) before moving on to London for a three-week shoot at locations including:
The Heygate Estate (Pictures above)
Petticoat Lane Market
Cafe Le Jardin in Bell Lane
A Red Lion Square auditorium redressed to become a “Center For Psychic Advancement” in the film.

In the months ahead, the production plans to shoot key scenes with Damon in San Francisco studios before returning to England to film the movie’s final scenes.

The 82nd Academy Awards Nominations

The nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards were announced live on Tuesday February 2, 2010, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, by Tom Sherak, president of the Academy, and actress Anne Hathaway. The winners will be announced during the awards ceremony on March 7, 2010. On June 24, 2009, then-Academy president Sid Ganis announced at a press conference that the 2010 ceremony will feature ten Best Picture nominees instead of five.

Sadly, Eastwood's Invictus does not feature among the 10 best picture nominations, Clint also failed to join the best director list. In fact, Invictus only received 2 nominations in total, Morgan Freeman for best actor in a leading role and Matt Damon for best actor in a supporting role.

While I enjoyed Invictus a great deal and think it's a remarkably well made movie, I wouldn't be at all surprised if either or both actors will be overshadowed on the night.

Monday 1 February 2010

Invictus UK Premiere Night Sunday January 31st 2010

Sunday January 31st 2010 From The Telegraph
Invictus premiere: Morgan Freeman says he still knows 'little to nothing' about rugby
Morgan Freeman has admitted that he knows very little about rugby - despite starring in Invictus, a film about the sport's famous 1995 World Cup in South Africa.

The Oscar winner, who is hotly tipped to be nominated for Best Actor at this year's Academy Awards for his portrayal of Nelson Mandela in Invictus, said he was not a sports fan but insisted the movie did not concentrate on rugby.
He said at the movie's UK premiere in London's Leicester Square: ''I wasn't a rugby fan - I didn't know beans about rugby. I still know little to nothing about rugby.

''At home sometimes when you get down to the World Series or National Football League play-offs or the NBA play-offs, I might watch. But I'm not an avid sports fan at all.''

He continued: ''It isn't based on rugby. Everyone keeps saying it's based on rugby - it incorporates rugby, but it's based on Mandela.''

Freeman, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Million Dollar Baby in 2004, wore sunglasses on the red carpet but denied he was trying to upstage director Clint Eastwood, who directed both movies.

''The sunglasses are merely because the light is hurting my eyes. I'm not trying to be cooler than him - that's too much of a challenge,'' he laughed.

Freeman, who also worked with Eastwood in 1992 film Unforgiven, said collaborating with the director for the third time was the best yet.

He said: ''He's my favourite director, so going onto the fourth, fifth and sixth times I think will be probably more fun, because the third time was the most fun, the second time was great fun and the first time was fun.''

The actor also joked that he did not like working with his co-star Matt Damon - who plays South Africa's World Cup-winning captain Francois Pienaar.
''We don't get on all that good. He's got a big head, he thinks he's good-looking and all that. We didn't get on all that well at all as a matter of fact,'' he said.

Damon, who is also tipped for a Best Supporting Actor nod for his portrayal of Pienaar, said it was an honour to be starring opposite Freeman - who was picked by Mandela himself to play him.

He said: ''Mandela himself had handpicked him to play him, so everyone knew at some point Morgan was going to to do it. I just felt lucky there was a role for me to be close to him while he did it.''

Damon added that he spent a lot of time with Pienaar to ensure he got the role right - and quickly realised the rugby star's status in South Africa.
He said: ''It's always really helpful when you have not only an expert but in this case the person which these things actually happened to. As an actor that's really helpful - it saves a lot of research!
''Hanging out with him in South Africa was funny, because he's like Elvis down there.''

Pienaar, who was also at the premiere, explained: ''I spent a lot of time socially with Matt, Morgan and Clint. What they wanted to understand from me was the relationship I had with (Mandela's clan name) Madeba and some of the leadership characteristics in the team.''

Damon added: ''I think we all wanted to do it because the story is true for one, and really, really uplifting.

''Had a screenwriter scripted it, people would have walked out and gone no that couldn't possibily happen. and the fact it did, really is, it bears telling again. Not only did this team do something wonderful, what happened for the country during the six weeks of the World Cup was really special.''

Clint and the stars were talking to Sky News on the Red Carpet:
Clint Eastwood has told Sky News how Morgan Freeman brought Nelson Mandela to the big screen. The Hollywood legend has been on the red carpet for the UK launch of Invictus - a film about the former South African president's involvement in the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

"It seemed like it was calling out," Eastwood told Sky News."It's very interesting for a politician to use sport to think about reconciliation. It seemed like Mandela was very creative. We're not seeing a lot of innovation out of politicians. It's interesting how he handled the situation."

Mandela used sport to help bridge the divides in South Africa, as the Springboks went on to famously lift the trophy. In the film he's played by Morgan Freeman, the actor Nelson himself named as the man he'd like to play him on screen.

"It was on the cards for me, sooner or later I was going to do it," smiled Freeman.
"I'm not sure how you would try to sum him up, I don't think he's summable. There's lots of things going on, he's a unique human being."

Matt Damon learned to play rugby for his role as South Africa captain Francois Pienaar, who himself helped out Eastwood as an advisor on the film. And even though Damon - at 5'10" - may at first seem a little short to play 6'3" Pienaar, the pair insisted it really didn't matter.

"It's not about the size," Pienaar smiled, looking down at Damon. "It's all about the heart."

"I'm like his personal Mini-Me," laughed Damon. "There are no small parts, only small actors! It was a lot of responsibility. We all felt a bit of pressure to tell the story in a way that would carry on its message."

Invictus has already featured heavily in the award nomination lists so far.
Next stop is the Oscar shortlist, where Freeman is expected to compete for Best Actor, and Clint may well get another nod for Best Director. There is then one final question to ask. Will another Academy Award make his day?

"I don't know," he smiled. "I don't talk about that too much, I just go ahead and do the job. That's all up to other people."