Essential Directors – Clint Eastwood

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MILLION DOLLAR BABY “I don’t train girls,” boxing manager Frankie Dunn growls. But Maggie Fitzgerald wins his respect and earns her shot at success in a bravura tale that’s as much about family as it is about the “sweet science.” Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman star. MYSTIC RIVER From the same side of the tracks…to opposite sides of the law. The hunt for a missing girl in working-class Boston draws three childhood friends into a web of murder and mystery. Ea… More >>

Essential Directors – Clint Eastwood

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  1. This set contains single disc editions of three critically acclaimed films that Clint Eastwood made for Warner Bros.

    Unforgiven (1992) Clint Eastwood plays an ex-gunslinger who is now a widower with two children. He is trying to make a go of a barren homestead when an assignment with a lucrative payoff lands in his lap. All he has to do is shoot down two cowboys who have maimed a lady of the evening, with expenses paid by her friends who found the sheriff’s resolution of the matter entirely unsatisfactory. At first he approaches this assignment reluctantly and philisophically. However, by the end of the film he has no trouble finding his inner killer. Best Picture winner. 5/5

    Mystic River (2003) Three childhood friends are playing together in the streets of Boston when the fate of one is changed forever by a couple of men pretending to be policemen. Years later finds one an ex-con and merchant with his hand still in violence if the need arises, another is a homicide detective, and the third is a family man with a broken spirit due to his childhood trauma The three are brought back together by the murder of the ex-con’s daughter. Nominated for Best Picture 5/5.

    Million Dollar Baby (2004) Eastwood plays the owner of a gym where fighters train. Hillary Swank is a 31 year old waitress trying to become a fighter. At first Eastwood discourages her due to her age and lack of technique, but soon he is training her and she starts to have some success. The relationship becomes much more than that of a trainer and fighter as she takes the place of the daughter who won’t speak to him and he takes the place of her family that only cares about what’s in it for them. A tragedy occurs that causes Swank to ask Eastwood for a favor he feels he cannot grant. Best Picture Winner. This is a good film, but there is nothing particularly unique or compelling about it that would have caused it to beat out its competition in the Oscar race in 2004 other than it paralleling a particular story that was making headlines at the same time the Academy was doing its voting. 3.5/5

    Total rank of the package = 4.5/5 strictly by averaging the three scores.

    If you only care about the movies and don’t want extras, this is a cost effective way to own these three films. Note that Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven come in 2 disc editions and that Mystic River comes in a three disc edition if you are interested in all of the trimmings.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. Directors – Clint Eastwood, repackages three of the stars Oscar winning masterpieces. Two of these films share the same theme. Both 1992’s Unforgiven & 2003’s Mystic River explore the effects of violence on individuals & their communities. In Unforgiven Eastwood stars as an aging gunslinger who, driven by poverty, reluctantly saddles up to collect a bounty despite having supposedly reformed under the guidance of his late wife. Assisted by Gene Hackman (in one of the all time best supporting actor performances) as well as by memorable turns from Richard Harris & Morgan Freeman, Unforgiven is a smart & knowing western although it is not, as has often been claimed, a revisionist one. Those who enjoy a good, old fashioned western will find nothing to upset them here.

    Yet as great as Unforgiven is, its conventional ending, in which the hero rides into town & sets everything right with a massive display of force, is trumped by Mystic River’s extraordinary portrait of what happens when revenge masquerading as justice is exercised & the way the consequences are seen to ripple outward from the past to the present, even into the future. Three Boston kids, Dave, Jimmy & Sean, are playing in the street in 1975 when one of them is abducted & sexually abused. 30 years later the same friends are drawn together again when Jimmy’s teenage daughter is found brutally murdered. With Jimmy swearing vengeance, Dave marked for life by his abuse, & Sean struggling with an estranged wife, the scene is set for tragedy when Dave returns home the night of the murder with his hands covered in blood. With powerhouse performances by Sean Penn, Tim Robbins (initially unrecognizable), as well as Kevin Bacon, Mystic River is a profoundly unsettling film.

    Finally we have Eastwood’s greatest film yet, 2004’s Million Dollar Baby. This quiet movie about a too old female boxer seeking her chance in the ring shocked audiences around the world. The cunning script by Paul Haggis initially seduces the audience with familiar situations & easy laughs into thinking they’re seeing a female version of the familiar Rocky story. But what they’re actually getting is a profound exploration of one of the most important questions an artist can ask; how do we live life? This is Eastwood’s toughest work because, unlike Unforgiven, there is no release through violence at the end, only a grief that can never be assuaged.

    Eastwood gives his greatest ever screen performance as the old, crabby boxing trainer who, gradually, layer by layer, opens up to his eager pupil played by a wonderful Hilary Swank. Pitch perfect support is supplied by Morgan Freeman as the gym janitor whose voice over narration leads, in the films final scene, to a deeply moving revelation.

    Amongst the many delights of M$B are the beautiful widescreen compositions – at times figures are literally cut in two by jagged areas of shadow – & the timeless look/feel of the movie. The emotional impact of M$B cannot be denied. It is an extraordinarily heartfelt, moving experience & one of those rare movies that feels as though it has reached in & given your soul a gentle shake.

    A bonus of this set is that all three films feature scores composed by Eastwood himself including the beautiful ‘Claudia’s theme’ from Unforgiven, the haunting title track for Mystic River, & the stirring Million Dollar Baby score. These confirm Eastwood’s status as an extraordinarily gifted amateur musician as well as a great American actor/director.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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