Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Death Be Not Proud

Clint Eastwood has cemented his reputation as the director whose films are such downers, they often end with one or more lead characters dead by the time “The End” flashes onscreen. Unforgiven, check. Mystic River, check. Million Dollar Baby, a million checks. Gran Torino, a grand check. Even The Bridges of Madison County ends with the characters played by Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood dying an emotional death when they separate. Let’s face it, what make Clint’s day are death, depression and a dirge for the closing credits.

So what happens when Mister Death directs a movie for Mister Sunshine-and-Happy-Endings Steven Spielberg? Seems like Spielberg asked Eastwood, “After all those deaths, what comes after?” The result is Hereafter. One can imagine Spielberg telling Eastwood, “Let’s get the most morbid, most downer of a topic--death!--and let’s make a feel-good movie about it.” Except after watching it, we the audience all died just a bit.

It’s not the worst movie you’ll ever see. But yes, it’s that feel-good movie that makes you feel bad afterwards--bad for the actors, the director and, ultimately, the paying audience. Watching it approximates a near-death experience.

To be fair, Eastwood sets up rather well the separate stories of a French female news anchor who gets swept away by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a British boy whose earlier-by-a-few-minutes twin gets hit by a truck, and an American psychic who connects easily with the dead but not with the living. The tsunami scene is stunning and gripping. The background story of the twins is so engaging, when the accident happens your heart breaks. And the scenes with Matt Damon as the psychic and Bryce Dallas Howard as the girl who falls for him have a crackling vibrancy, thanks mostly to Howard’s ditzy, needy portrayal.

But unfortunately the disparate scenes all lead up to a clumsy and almost contrived convergence. And in the end, with all the hugs and kisses, one asks, “Is that it?”

Memo to Mr. Eastwood: Death becomes you. Hereafter, do stick to depressing films.

1 comment:

Kiks said...

a well-written caveat.

now, Clint should have cameo roles in all his movies - ala Stephen King. para maging enticing for kids and Waldo-fans alike.