DOASKDOTELL MOVIE REVIEWs of Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Firefox, The Unforgiven, Hang ‘em High , Play Misty for Me, The Bridges of Madison County, Gone Baby Gone, Changeling, Gran Torino

 

Title:  Million Dollar Babby

Release Date:  2004

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 133 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Distributor and Production Company: Warner Brothers, Lakeshore  

Director; Writer: Clint Eastwood; wr. F. X. Toole

Producer: Clint Eastwood (also composer)

Cast:   

Technical: full widescreen

Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site:  assisted suicide, right to life

Review:

 

Million Dollar Baby (2004, Warner Brothers/Lakeshore, dir. Clint Eastwood, 133 min. PG-13) is being marketed in platform fashion as an art film even though it comes from a full studio. Clint Eastwood provides a schmaltzy music score of his own and a studied script about a female boxer. The movie seems a bit confined in visual opportunities, a lot of it on a boxing club, almost in dogma fashion. Eastwood plays Frankie Dunn, the manager, and Morgan Freeman (one of my own favorite veteran actors) plays his assistant Scrap, who narrates the story of Frankie’s mentorship of Maggie FitzGerald (Hilary Swank). Jay Baruchel plays Danger Barch, the welterweight sidekick who might be “MR” but his story never goes anywhere. Margo Martindale gives a chilling performance as Maggie’s conniving hillbilly mother from the “Show Me State.” Now, after Maggie finally loses a fight in Las Vegas and is brutally injured (deliberately), breaking her neck, the story takes its tragic turn south. Frankie will eventually terminate her – is it assisted suicide, or is it at least 2nd degree murder? I would have been more satisfied with a payoff seeing Frankie go to San Quentin. I do understand and admire Eastwood’s libertarian bent, but this is not the best way to show it. This film has quite a different feel from the 1999 film Fight Club, reviewed here. Regarding female boxers (and I add here, the film makes no speculation as to their being lesbians), I recall that during the first four years of having my domain, my ISP (virtualnetspace.com through 9/2001) had a major “British guy” client dedicated to selling images of female bodybuilders, and I believe that the site is still http://www.valkyries.com  (may require paid subscription). The topic may be quirky yet financially promising.

 

Mystic River (2003: Warner Brothers, Village Roadshow, R), directed (with music composed by) Clint Eastwood, is a “big” art film from big-time studios bringing together three troubled middle-aged men after the disappearance of the daughter of one of them, twenty-five years after an earlier incident where one of the men was sexually abused as a boy. The name of the movie refers to a river that runs at a right angle to the Charles River in Boston. The mood of the city and its Irish Catholic working class (usually spoken of about “Southies” gives this film (visually a lot a blues and grays in Cinemascope) it edge. This is a long way from the Boston of Prudential Center or Fenway Park. The three characters seem older than the late thirties that they are supposed to be in. Kevin Bacon manages to prove a lot here as a cop, and Sean Penn’s character is as grungy as an East Village apartment.

 

Firefox (1982, Warner Bros., dir. Clint Eastwood) was a major Cold War thriller. Hero Mitchell Gant (Clint Eastwood) comes out of retirement and goes into the Soviet Union to steal a fighter stealth plane that is though-controlled. Complications ensue as a double is killed, but eventually he winds up behind enemy lines. The title of the film should not be stated backwards (‘foxfire”). When I saw it, the theater did not have the ability to show this wide sceen spectacle in Stereo, which was just becoming pretty standard then.

 

The Unforgiven (1992, Warner Bors., dir. Clint Eastwood) has a similar one last assignment plot, here as a western. Eastwood plays retired gunslinger Bill Munny, who takes up a bounty put up by prostitutes (in Big Whiskey, WY) after one of them is cut up (the confrontation early in the film is quite shocking). Morgan Freeman plays his partner Ned, and Gene Hackman is the inept sheriff.

 

Hang ‘em High (1968, MGM, dir. Ted Post) stars Clint Eastwood as a former marshall (Jed Cooper) who survives a lynching when wrongly accused of rustling. He becomes a marshall again as he goes out an looks for vigilantes who almost lynched him. A lot of them get hung in humorous ceremonies in the Old West. The film seems timely today because of the renewed interest in the history of lynching.

 

Play Misty for Me (1971, Universal/Malposo, dir. Clint Eastwood, story by Jo Heims) was an early “Fatal Attraction.”  A young disc jockey is stalked by a female fan who become jealous when he has another girl. Clint Eastwood plays Dave Garver, Jessica Walter is the obsessed fan Evelyn, and Donna Mills is Tobie, the other girl. It gets violent.

 

The Bridges of Madison County (1995, Warner Bros., dir. Clint Eastwood, 135 min, PG-13) The children of Francesca Johnson find their mother’s diary and learn of a three day romance with a National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) while their dad was away. The county is south of Des Moines, Iowa, and the title refers to picturesque covered bridges.

 

Gone Baby Gone (2007, Miramax / Ladd, dir. Ben Affleck, novel by Dennis Lahane, wr. Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard). Two private detectives (brother Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan) taken on an apparent kidnapping case in the Dorcester area of Boston after pleas from the child’s aunt. They are led into a complicated maze of double crossings. Casey’s understated performance serves well, as he rather explodes in the action scenes, where the sudden gunfire is handled well. There is a second child kidnapping in the movie’s middle section that is particularly graphic. The movie opens with Casey’s character (Patrick Kenzie) saying that the things that make us who we are, are the things we do not choose (our family, our background, our nationality, etc).

 

Changeling (2008, Universal / Relativity, dir. Clint Eastwood, 140 min, R). This is a probing period piece in 1920s LA, where the LAPD tries to conceal a mistake from a single mom (Angelina Jolie) with a missing child. Blogger.  

 

Gran Torino (2008, Warner Bros. / Village Roadshow, dir. Clint Eastwood, 116 min, PG-13). A widower tames a Hmong teen under his wing after the teen tries to steal his car as part of a gang initiation. Blogger. 

 

Related reviews: Stealth      Fatal Attraction    Derailed    Flags of our Fathers  Invictus

 

Return to movies (reviews)

Return to strike page  

Return to home page

 

Email me at Jboushka@aol.com