Headline: ‘American Sniper’ Complaints Grow in Hollywood: Should Clint Eastwood Be Celebrating a ‘Killer’?
Not "Unforgiven." I need to.Saw the Spaghetti Westerns and the rest of the Eastwood Western genre.Justice was swift, certain, and consistent.multiple Academy members and Dennis Jett can take a long walk on a short pier.Eric Hines
Michael Moore is already stuffed.
"Unforgiven" is the best of them, in many ways. I'm looking forward to "American Sniper" in large part because of it. I know Eastwood won't pull punches.I expect it to be a hard movie, but a true one.
Although there's a way in which "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" is the best of them. It was the first truly great work of two masters who were practicing when Eastwood was still only learning: Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone. They went on to make "Once Upon a Time in the West," which is also a masterwork. And "Once Upon a Time in America," which is overly indulgent.
My husband absolutely loves "Unforgiven." It doesn't do a thing for me. I don't object to it or anything, I just can't get interested. It's puzzling, because most people love it, and I can't tell what I'm missing. Normally I'm up for a revenge fantasy, like "Man on Fire" or even the execrable "Taken" series, which is a total guilty pleasure. Also, Gene Hackman ordinarily is a 100% guarantee of a movie for my taste.I'm looking forward to "American Sniper," though.
"Unforgiven" is excellent.I saw "American Sniper" last night and it is excellent as well.
"Unforgiven" isn't about revenge. It is, in a sense, Eastwood's exploration of the dark side of the spaghetti western hero; it's about the motivations and cost of being a badass and a legend. We see the value of justice (it's not revenge; the state refused to give justice so the women sought it privately), but also the cost of delivering justice, and we are forced to ask whether the cost is always worth it.In part, "American Sniper" also explores the motivations and cost of being a warrior and legend. I'll leave discussion of that movie until more have seen it.
Hmm. Maybe I can't find justice dramatically engaging when it doesn't acknowledge its inherent revenge component. I seem to be blind to most of what the film is trying to project, and to pick up only on the moroseness. Stories about being stuck in moroseness generally lose me. I insist on a protagonist that finds a way out somehow: start finding the violence cathartic, or renounce it, or do some darn thing, but don't stay stuck.
My problem with Unforgiven was its burdening the characters with modern morality. "It's hard to kill a man" was the overriding message of the film, and yet historical evidence shows that the people of the time weren't quite so squeamish. Hangings were popular events that people would take their children to as entertainment. I think we do history a disservice when we pretend that all of humanity has always held the moral standards we do today.
I quizzed my husband again about his reaction to "Unforgiven." His description of the story line is that the protagonist is ambivalent--almost somnolent--about his role as avenger/justicewielder as long as he's carrying out his hired task for the prostitutes. Then the bad guy kills his buddy Morgan Freeman, which rekindles the avenger in him. For me, that puts it in the category of "Now It's Personal" movies, which often involve retired or burned-out cops or spies regalvanized by an atrocity that affects wives/children/brothers/ex-partners, etc. Those are also often in the "You Jacked with the Wrong Guy" genre, normally very appealing to me. Sort of "Don't Poke the Sleeping Bear" or "Only One Man" movies.Maybe my problem in "Unforgiven" is that I don't see or appreciate the transformation in the protagonist. He seems morose to me before and after the critical point, which makes me unable to care what happens to him.
The unseen actor in the film is his wife. The story about Eastwood's character is really about his relationship with her. She loved him when he was a drunk and a killer, saved his soul (for a while), brought him out of that life of madness and made a home and a family with him. She died, and he has done his best to be faithful to her and to the duties he assumed as her husband and the father of their children. Perversely, it is his sense of duty to her children that makes him agree to take up the gun again -- but only because it is described to him as a noble cause (with the wounds greatly exaggerated, and the woman's status as a prostitute unmentioned). He decides, grudgingly, to do this thing so he can come back with enough money to lift his children out of poverty and give them new hope.He succeeds in doing that, and in the end they leave the collapsing farm and go on to some new life. He recovers the strength and the respect (and fear) that attended him in his youth, which no one showed him when he was honest and weak. He avenges his friend, destroys a lawman who is no better than a bad man, and rides in majesty out of a cowering town. The cost is becoming, again, everything she never wanted him to be. He has broken faith with everything she wanted for him.It's the weight of that which makes him morose, and you can see why. We end as we began, with the scrolling text asking, in the voice of his late wife's mother: why did she love him?
"it is described to him as a noble cause (with the wounds greatly exaggerated, and the woman's status as a prostitute unmentioned)"--Eww.Well, it's the mark of a subtle and complex movie that people can see such different things in it.It's not that I can't see why the guy is morose, just that I don't engage dramatically with stories in which the protagonist starts morose and stays that way. The stories that grab me are the ones in which he finds a way out of that dilemma. That means a lot of drama that may be fine art can't work for me--Ingmar Bergman, for instance.I thought his children were killed along with his wife at the beginning. I think I'm mixing up the beginnings of "Unforgiven" and "Josey Wales" (which I loved, by the way).
Yeah, that's Josey Wales. He leaves the kids running the farm in Unforgiven.The female prostitute who gets cut is the most sympathetic character in the film, I think. She's ready to forgive the cowboys who did it, especially the one who wasn't much involved and who wants to provide her with compensation for her injuries. The other prostitutes won't accept it, though, and drive him off. So Mike's right that the state failed to provide justice, but her community also failed. They wanted blood, and wouldn't let her come to terms that would have avoided it.
status as a prostitute unmentioned)"--Eww.I assume you mean "Eww" in the sense of "No good man should think less of helping a woman because she is a prostitute." I agree, more or less -- I think in an ideal world there would not be prostitution, so the issue wouldn't come up. However, the social (and actual) abuse of what Hollywood often calls 'sex workers' is one of the major themes of the movie. Eastwood's character treats the prostitutes very decently, modeling the virtue, but everyone else in the movie treats them with varying degrees of disrespect.
Well, certainly there is a revenge theme, but that's not what the story is about, to my mind.I guess I don't see the moroseness as a dilemma. It's just his character, and the result of the way he's lived his life. I never expected that to change. However, I do see how that could be unappealing.
Sorry, I should have said that at least with avenging his friend there is a revenge theme. I wasn't thinking about that when I posted earlier. I guess there was with the prostitute, but I really saw that more as a case of private justice when the law failed.
Right, I didn't mean that it's not believable or moving that he stays morose, or anything like that, just that it's not a hook that works on me personally. It's not even that I insist on happy endings. I very much liked the ending of "Dangerous Liaisons," for instance--the John Malkovich version. Malkovich's character is no less miserable at the end than at the beginning, but there is a crucial change when he takes moral responsibility for his awful life, and immediately dies as a result, instead of dispatching his callow young duel opponent.Still, for happy entertainment, I prefer the old "Curmudgeon Finds His Heart" plot to the "Curmudgeon Just Gets Worse, If Possible" one.
...when he takes moral responsibility for his awful life, and immediately dies as a result, instead of dispatching his callow young duel opponent.Eastwood gets close to that, right when he refuses to shoot Little Bill while sick and weak, and lets himself be beaten nearly to death. At that point he's still trying to kill only the wicked, and not the lawman who has a reasonable business in his violence.By the end, of course, the lawman has proven he's just another kind of bad man. And so the bill comes due.
Hollywood's <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2015/01/14/liam-neeson-number-guns-in-us-disgrace/>hypocrisy on guns and violence</a> could choke a universe of elephants. What else is new.
whoops, leave out one quote and it all goes to hell...I'll try again.
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