Thursday, October 14, 2010
HEREAFTER opens: finally -- a Clint Eastwood movie I can (nearly) embrace
HEREAFTER, the new Clint Eastwood film about near-death experience, life after the big D, and love in the here-and-now. Apparently, though not exactly alone in his delight, TM's opinion goes against those of many critics who generally favor Eastwood's earlier oeuvre and are rather down on this new one. For this reviewer, however, it's the reverse: Million Dollar Baby and Grand Torino (to name but two very popular Eastwood films) struck him as among the most over-rated, not to mention over-the-top, heavy-handers in recent film history, yet Hereafter is often surprisingly delicate -- never more so than when it is dealing with one-on-one moments between its several protagonists.
Matt Damon (two photos below, left), Cécile De France (below, right), Steve Schirripa (also fine -- yet so different -- in the recent Hungry Ghosts), Richard Kind, Jay Mohr (two photos below, right), Stéphane Freiss -- plus some new actors (whom we should soon see more of) and one, Bryce Dallas Howard, who's better here than I've seen her in any other of her films.
Joel Cox and Gary Roach -- is superb) so that we're with these people moment-to-moment and about as deeply and realistically as movies make possible. Unlike, say, Changling, in which performances were good but the direction too pushy and the movie (as often happens with Eastwood films) far too lengthy for what it had to show and tell, Hereafter runs two hours (plus credits) and is all of a piece. And -- wow -- how its pieces fit so interestingly together!
Thierry Neuvic -- below, right -- talk over the "next step"), Eastwood and his cast nail it every time.
Peter Morgan, who, up to now, has given us some fine films about state, sports, politics, and people (The Queen, The Damned United, Frost/Nixon, Longford). Suddenly, here he is dealing with something otherworldly. And doing it about as well as anyone has done. The afterlife is not a subject of which I am overly fond. I don't believe in it (but then how would I -- or any of us -- know?), I don't care about it (we ought to make the best of our time now, not when we're gone) and I find the amount of time that our art and culture spend on this subject rather frightful and disappointing.
earlier post (and above, by using the word "almost"): my biggest, my only gripe, really, is why Mr Eastwood, since he has handled so much else so beautifully, could not have found some way to bring us the death/near-death experience and/or the medium's (Mr. Damon) experience of communicating with the dead without resorting to the same old clichés of white light and sudden, short appearances of fractured images of the departed. We've seen these countless time already; surely film vocabulary is large enough to encompass a new way to show us near-death and communication with the dead? And if not, then how about just using sound effects? Those that Eastwood and his sound crew have managed in this film are actually quite good, so why not drop the visuals and just go with sound? Or better yet, because the acting is of such a high order, why not let the actors make the connection between the medium and his subject solely on their skillful interpretation of these moments? That would be something to see!
Warner Bros) decided that mainstream audiences would not be able to accept such subtlety. But you never know until you try. Meanwhile, we have so much else to savor here: Mr. Schirripa's delightful cooking classes; Ms de France's artful ability to turn a high-level, power playing TV reporter into an vulnerable, confused young woman (compare this performance to the one's she currently giving in Mesrine: Killer Instinct); Mr. Damon's wonderful ability to underplay for maximum emotion; Ms Howard (below, left), with her cheery exterior, so sweet and slightly over-the-top, collapsing into sobs on the staircase; and the splendid set of twins Frankie and George McLaren (shown above, but don't ask me which is which), who bring such gravity and kindness to the movie.
AMC Lowe's Lincoln Square or Regal Union Square 14, as well as elsewhere around the country.