Clint Eastwood, 90 years for the actor who became the director of a very personal, classic and shocking cinema at every vision


We Clint Eastwood we can imagine it behind the blurred window of a shabby provincial diner while he squeezes a slice of lemon cake. Hidden between the suggestions and memories of a sublime film like Million dollar baby and a very personal, classic and shocking cinema at every vision, which has seen him the absolute and total protagonist, in front and behind the camera for over 50 years. Yes, because the old Clint on May 31, 2020 blows out 90 candles. And we don’t know if he will put them out with one Colt of the dollar trilogy of Sergio Leone, with a 44 Magnum from theInspector Callaghan, or even just with the index and thumb of the hand as in his Gran Torino. We know banal and obvious, but this brief example is enough to understand Eastwood’s ability to transcend the materiality of genre films, which saw him flesh and blood acting on the orders of important directors up to the seventies, up to the poetic existence as gesture, as a symbol, above the real, in his director films often also interpreted with a gentle and natural delicacy.

And since we are on the edge of memories from the first line, as we write these words we think about how Eastwood fits into a romantic, heartbreaking and moving film like The bridges of Madison County. Robert / Clint as a pink apostrophe in the ordinary and tiring life of Francesca / Meryl Streep, Campagnola all home and family, but ready to open his heart with every click of the camera. It was 1994 and the then 64-year-old Clint staged and recovered with a long and flowing hair, wide shirts and suspenders. Nothing erotically exhibited, nothing physically bursting, he who had been (and remained for decades) one of the beautiful ones in Hollywood. Here is one of the secrets of his being a man of cinema in the round: knowing how to play with his own image beyond divism, beyond appearance, beyond the limit of foreseeable packaging. Of course, to become a “great” director, he had to put in a bit. The essentiality of his syntax as a filmmaker began to be a stylistic value only in the mid-eighties, after over a decade of directing (in 1971 the first with Shiver in the night), probably with that Honkytonk Man where Clint’s body gradually dissolves on stage, a bit like his Maggie from Million dollar baby.

Eastwood’s directives are in fact directives to take away, directives in which the few traits that usually serve to outline the soul, meaning and rhythm of the story arrive with a wise and respectful skimming of the classicism of history. “In cinema there is a tendency to treat viewers as if there were a risk that they would leave the cinema if they do not explain every little detail (…) I personally prefer that films leave room for reflection. (…) It is not necessary to get to the point where ambiguity becomes boring, but if sometimes you don’t say everything explicitly, the effect in the viewer’s mind is much more picturesque than if you describe everything by thread and by sign “, he declared in an interview in 2005. Here think about these words and review the ending of the surprising Mystic River. Following an Eastwood film you never have an overabundance of fragments on a visual level to deal with, but the chosen images that are proposed to you always satisfy you. We shoot a movie like The bridges of Madison County, a finely chiseled work without stylistic virtuosity around small gestures, poses, looks of the protagonists, and at the same time, some take in the field along the roads and surrounding nature. In certain moments even in the absence of spectacularity you cannot take your eyes off the screen. A formal approach that sometimes even got stuck in the shallows of a vague sloppiness (Invictus but also Hereafter). Hitches, false passages which in corpus of 38 titles are like blurry spots at the bottom of the craftsman’s always slightly dirty apron. Clint director often makes Clint suffer on stage. It makes him cry, takes away his dearest affections, makes him die, or better still does it like disappearing.

Director Clint is a wizard of non-special effects. A very, very author actor, a nouvelle vague model who sought and wanted a creative and productive independence as a director, not to be laughed at. From the first direction, and for many titles where he is the protagonist, he starts an almost exclusive relationship with the Warner Bros. and already in the mid sixties he founded his own production house, the Malpaso moreover, deriving from the fees obtained from the films shot with Leone. In the mid-eighties it became a sort of icon of authorship in the midst of the plasticized cinema that was being done in Hollywood. Cinemateque Francaise dedicates a retrospective to him, while his films begin to premiere in Cannes. These are the years (1986-88) in which Clint becomes mayor (200 dollars of monthly emoluments) of Carmel, a coastal town in California where the norm of the addresses does not apply and he goes to the post office to collect his missives, and where it is forbidden by law wear high heels.

Eastwood, who has always been a republican, even when European progressive newspapers had fictitiously transformed him into a sort of liberal (there are still those who use him today as a synonym for liberal) has repeatedly explained his conservative but rebellious spirit: ” I have always considered myself too individualistic to be right or left ”. And to those who claimed that Callaghan was fascist and racist, he explained: “People thought I was a right-wing fanatic. Everything Harry did obeyed a higher moral law. Some even said I was a racist because I was shooting black robbers. Well, shit, even black people rob banks. That film gave work to four black stuntmen, but nobody said a word about it. ” Eastwood is also the one who turns an admirable portrait of Charlie Parker with Bird in 1988, certainly not meeting the favors of the box office. Eastwood is also the artist who after elevating the western in all its forms between the fifties on TV and the sixties, prolonging its history with spaghetti westerns, churns out the twilight and definitive The ruthless in 1992.

Film that is said to have been rejected by the Venice Film Festival but which makes Eastwood, already a popular face as a star, also a director of weight for the Oscars. In short, one who goes to jazz while rock is raging, one who turns 60 and who overturns the golden law of the film industry: the older you are, the more Oscars you win. With a sensational paradox: two Oscars for best director and for the best film (Unforgiven is Million dollar baby), two nominations for best actor but never a victory. Curious right? The icon, the face, the ultra-popular expression is surpassed by this serious and competent professionalism, a gradual and continuous maturation, which especially between 60 and 90 years allows Eastwood to offer unforgettable titles. We also love his latest films. Sully, 3.15 pm attack on the train, The Courier and Richard Jewell. Perhaps not even Manoel De Oliveira has offered such great performances between 80 and 90 years. Clint yes. Because cinema has always had it on us. With hat or without hat.

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