Monday Morning Critic – Thoughts on Clint Eastwood’s 2012 GOP Convention Speech, Marie Antoinette

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

The latest cycle to determine the next President of the United States has gotten so nasty so quickly over the past couple months that I’m trying to actively avoid as much commentary on it as possible. I try to at least keep aware of the goings on of all things political, as it does affect the world around me, but the rhetoric on both sides of the aisle is a bit much at times. Not to say I don’t have anything to say about it; it’s proven both mock worthy at times and kind of sad in others.

Like when I watched Paul Ryan’s speech during the convention. Regardless of his politics I thought it was touching how he discussed his relationship with his mother and I wish all men had that sort of loving relationship with the woman who brought them into this world. We’d all be better off if children and parents had that sort of affection for one another … at least I think. Granted strip clubs would end up closing en masse, of course, but some things would be for the better probably.

So I was very curious to the reaction of Clint Eastwood speaking at the GOP convention this past week. The reaction to Ryan’s speech was either “OMG he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread” or “OMG he’s the Devil incarnate.” And you can say that about every political speech at that convention and the reaction will be identical in its ferocity for the upcoming DNC convention from the opposite ends. It’s easy to sanctify or vilify a politician; that’s kind of their job. But for the guy who gave us Unforgiven it’s an entirely other thing.

He’s a genuine movie star not the latest flavor of the month. You have certain credibility when you’re Clint Eastwood that a guy like Ashton Kutcher doesn’t; he’s been around for so long and has done so much great work that when he speaks about politics it becomes something people discuss because it matters. Kutcher releasing a commercial about what a “real man” does becomes mock worthy because no one really thinks of him as a star; he’s just someone who’s been popular for a little bit by comparison. Eastwood’s career is something that students of cinema dissect because of its profound influence; Kutcher’s career is something TMZ dissects in comparison.

You can watch Eastwood’s speech below if you missed it.

I watched it because I’m a Clint Eastwood fan and when he speaks about anything I love to listen to him. I didn’t care which side he would’ve spoken for and would’ve tuned in just as eagerly if he had given a Pro-Obama speech.

He’s Clint f’n Eastwood: when he speaks you need to listen. This is a guy who decided, in the midst of his popularity as an actor, to expand his range to include the Spaghetti western and kicked all sorts of ass doing that. He decided after that to become a director and has a couple Oscars to go with some of the best films ever crafted. And he’s a good producer, too, and while doing all of this he served as the mayor of a town for a spell. So it’s not like this is some sort of newfound risk he opted to take; Eastwood’s the kind of cat who’ll tell you to kiss his ass if you don’t like something he did or said and then promptly kick it if you object further.

He may be in his late 80s but Clint Eastwood still looks like he could kick the shit out of most people because … well … he’s Clint F’n Eastwood. There are few actors who deserve the “F’n” moniker and he’s #1 with a bullet.

I adore the man for his work, as do plenty of other people, so the reaction to his fairly unique speech was rather amusing as far as I was concerned. The praise was too much for an old guy without a script having fun in front of a crowd that adored him for many of reasons, many of them because his political persuasions were closer to theirs as opposed to his work as a cinematic artist, and the criticism was over the top as well. It was the same volume but different directions for many on both sides when he did the halftime in America ad for Detroit cars. For those of you who’ve forgotten it you can watch it again below.

Normally I’m usually the type that wants celebrities and their ilk to shut up and just entertain us when it comes to politics; it does me no good to see Sean Penn talk about the budget deficit instead of his tradecraft. Why? Because Sean Penn isn’t an economist nor does he appear to have studied the subject with any sort of profound depth or meaning outside of what his handlers have told him to make him sound intelligible but he’s one of the best actors working today. Penn discussing acting means something because few can match him.

We don’t want to know Kim Kardashian’s take on potential Quantitative Easing in the upcoming fiscal quarter. We want to know which D-level celebrity, untalented hip hop artist or mediocre professional athlete she’s using to extend the final 20 seconds of her 15 minutes of fame in the latest storyline on her “reality” television show. In the end scheme of things Kardashian will wind up a punch line. Eastwood’s different because he’s not some reality TV flunky like the type his wife and children are trying to become.

Eastwood is different because of his gravitas. He gets on any screen and you pay attention because he’s one of the few people in Hollywood that actually warrants it. Think of it as a series of Three When’s to better help understand it all.

— When the whole Kardashian thing finally ends, and they open up a brothel so that you can choose between Fatty, Fugly or AIDSy for your $20 of fun and venereal disease, Clint Eastwood will still matter.

— When VH1 does a “What the hell happened in the 2000s” show to explain all the stupid pop culture stuff, and it turns into a season and a half of making fun of reality TV in off-color terms by Bill Burr, Clint Eastwood will still matter.

— When the sun supernovas & the Earth is nothing but a giant piece of charcoal, Clint Eastwood will still matter.

That’s what makes him worthy of writing about in a week that doesn’t offer much; there’s only so much you can write about Shia LaBeouf before you realize that the best part of Lawless was the fact that he got the stuffing kicked out of him the entire film. I mean honestly I couldn’t write this much about how excellent that is though I will probably buy the DVD just to watch it over and over again. Seriously, Guy Pearce beating him to a bloody pulp multiple times is just that awesome. I watched Lockout again immediately afterwards just to continue to celebrate Guy Pearce’s being a badass.

There may be a Guy Fawkes Day but it needs to become Guy Pearce Day ASAP. If you’re going to see that film, and Travis’s review is here if you’re on the fence, watch it for just that alone. He’s pretty much spot on with what he thought of the film, as well.

Eastwood, though, doing anything is worth writing about. He’s such a powerful presence that unlike a lot of actors when he speaks on things that aren’t explicitly about his tradecraft people pay attention outside of a cursory glance. We may go “oh that’s nice” when Anne Hathaway does something politically oriented but when Clint Eastwood does it we pay attention and look it an in depth. He’s the headmaster of the old school and when he talks about things political it means more than some actor whose biggest hit involved putting on a pair of tights and getting CGI superpowers en route to a McDonald’s Happy Meal box cover.

He’s Dirty Harry, the Pale Rider and the Man with No Name. And a whole bunch of other characters that are pretty groovy, too. If you think about it he’s one of the few white actors who could get away with using nearly every racial slur in the book in Gran Torino as a foul-mouthed curmudgeon and get people of all races, colors and creeds to love him for doing so. Hell, I thought Torino was one of the best films of the last decade and he’s one of the rare talents who you could argue has had one of the best films of each of the past four decades or so as a director or actor (or both). So when he speaks people listen because it means something.

The amusing part is to hear the reaction to it. People on the right went nutty one way, people on the left went nutty the other and the rest of us kind of just shrugged. For many his endorsement of Mitt Romney, and his quirky device of using an empty chair, was the sign of an actor going too far and all that. It was the exact opposite eight months ago when it appeared he was endorsing Obama or whatever by being in a Chrysler commercial. No matter what he did people were exclaiming about he killed his appeal with regular Americans or with those in Hollywood, or both, and people have wasted too much ink on it already.

Me, I think of it like this and think everyone else needs to do the same: He’s Clint Eastwood, the man who told us to make his day. The man who shot a gun out of another man’s hands while on horseback. The badass that taught a weak Hmong boy the arts of manliness and construction while being a curmudgeonly old dude. No matter what he’s said in front of a fawning crowd, or in a commercial, he’s still just an actor/director/writer/producer no matter how much gravitas he has. Nothing more …. And nothing less.

If you’re angry that an old guy gave a political speech that was awkward and somehow you are disappointed in him then there’s not much I can do for you. If you’re happy an old guy gave a political speech that was awkward and somehow you view him in a significantly higher light than there is not much I can do for you either. When it comes to politics, focus on the issues and the candidates. Anything else is just stupid.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Marie Antoinette

I remember watching this in theatres and loving it; I then picked it up on DVD on the cheap and waited for quite some time to watch it for some reason. Why? I don’t know. But this week it’s time to tackle Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.

Antoinette was the woman given the mantle of the destroyer of the French monarchy. Scandal ridden, her and her entire family were all guillotined by the French during their revolution as they abolished the monarchy and went to glorious democracy and such. She’s a largely forgettable figure in it all, of course, but that kind of what makes her a fascinating figure in all of it.

Played by Kristen Dunst, and surrounded by fairly solid character actors, this is an ambitious film with an amazing soundtrack. This was Coppola’s most ambitious film, a period piece, and it follows Antoinette from the point of marrying Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman) through their reign over France. It’s an interesting character piece from Coppola and the first real great performance from Dunst, as well.

You can watch it on Hulu, as well, by clicking here.

Recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

The Cold Light of Day – The newest Superman’s family is kidnapped. He has to rescue them. Bruce Willis is somehow involved.

Skip It – This looks so bad you can almost taste it.

The Words – Bradley Cooper is a writer who can’t knock out a book …. That is until he steals someone else’s manuscript and passes it off as his own. Shenanigans ensue.

See It – There are two Bradley Coopers out there. There’s the one that takes big studio fare that’s relatively safe and won’t diminish his status as a burgeoning star, ala the guy who shows up for The Hangover sequels. And then there’s the guy that tackles nuanced indie roles. The second guy is more intriguing than the first and so are his films.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

Tags: ,