Change Lingers

1 01 2009

Psuedo-enigmatic titles aside, I did see Clint Eastwood’s Changeling tonight.  While I loathe the self-important tone necessary for most good movie reviews, I do have some passing thoughts on the movie that bear mentioning on a selfish medium like this.

Much like Eastwood’s other movies (Million Dollar Baby and Mystic River readily come to mind), a tone of melancholy pervades the best parts of the film. From dialogue and characters to tones and coloring (not colouring), everything screams of the dour and dreary.  Angelina Jolie does a serviceable job of being the weak-yet-strong mother, although she seems to channel all the most grating quirks of Hillary Swank far too much for my liking.  During the movie, I commented to my friend that I felt like I was supposed to be realizing how “good” the movie was because of how much I sympathized with Christine Collins (Jolie).  However, I wonder if perhaps the subject (a boy being kidnaped from a mother who gets the cold shoulder from the police; drama ensues) isn’t so latently sympathetic as to render any half-decent portrayal of it utterly inflammatory.  When mothers are crying and crowds are protesting and courtrooms are cheering, Eastwood seems to be so overtly beckoning the audience to join them that I found myself almost disgusted with my own level of emotional involvment.  Eastwood seems to be playing some kind of grand parlor trick, and only occasionally passing on moments of bitter clarity.  One of Collins’s compatriots utters an oath directed towards “them and the horse they rode in on.” Collins replies that “that’s no language for a lady,” and Compatriot (an impressive Amy Ryan) replies, “Sometimes, that’s exactly the right language to use.”  Being not overly astute in the realm of the cinema, it still seemed to me that the movie was pleading with the audience to listen to their gut reactions when faced with horrors and injustices, and to react accordingly.  In no small part is my uneasiness with this message due to my sketicism of my visceral self; in fact, I wonder if perhaps Eastwood isn’t trying to point out just how easy it is to elicit such reactions in the first place.  Aside from passings moments pointing out the gross misogyny and political corruption of the day, the film heralds little excepte a purported “hope” in the face of all else.  The greatest irony, for me, was that I came out of the movie feeling more hopeless than I had all day.  Way to go, Clint.

Sent a CV to Cal/West Tuesday, as per Josiah’s suggestion.  We’ll see what comes of that and pray for rain to come.  Green rain.

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