the origins of his classic alcoholic, abusive and distrustful antihero

the origins of his classic alcoholic, abusive and distrustful antihero

Clint Eastwood in True Crime (1999)

“Do you know how many people told me to let you go?” The phrase is heard in the trailer of Cry Macho, the new movie of Clint Eastwood, in which the latest classic of American cinema also returns to acting. The recipient of these words is Mike Milo, the character played by Eastwood, an old cowboy that long ago, as that preview also reminds us, he had been an unsurpassed rodeo champion. “Before the accident and before taking a drink,” Howard (Dwight Yoakam) tells him before receiving from Milo one of those sharp and ironic responses that Eastwood likes to say so much in his movies.

Cry Macho is the 39th film in Eastwood’s career as a director and brings us back, by all indications, to his most distinctive character. That tough man, distrustful, of few words, individualistic and, above all, owner of a past that he seems willing to regret. “I used to be many things, but I am not anymore. You think you have all the answers and when you get old you realize that you didn’t have any, ”he explains in another part of the first preview of the film, which will hit theaters on September 16.

Mike Milo is the latest variant on a figure that Eastwood gave various names to over the years. One of them is Steve Everett, the protagonist of True crime (True Crime), which Eastwood directed, produced and starred in in 1999. Like Milo, Everett also has a personal story that he is not proud of. Quite the opposite. It is not only characterized by “giving the drink”. He is a hopeless womanizer, he approaches his work with indolence, he treats his peers quite badly, he is unconcerned about what happens to his wife and he has an irresponsible behavior with his little daughter. “You were not capable of feeling anything for others,” says one of the many people who line up to reproach him for past and present behaviors.

Clint Eastwood plays an alcoholic and womanizer journalist in True Crime

Clint Eastwood plays an alcoholic and womanizer journalist in True Crime

But as we have said and frequently noted in the final stretch of his career, this character finds in the stories that Eastwood brings to the cinema a visible instance of redemption. In the case of True crime, that rescue appears in the only virtue that Everett is capable of exhibiting: the almost infallible “smell” that journalists of the old school have. In this film, Eastwood occupies a desk in the Newsroom of the Oakland Tribune, a historic newspaper that first appeared in 1874 and published its last morning edition as such on April 4, 2016. Integrated from there to another medium, the East Bay The Times, which continues to be published today as a daily, the Oakland Tribune maintains its original name, but now as a weekly.

The characters of True crime They are fictitious, but some of their best moments take place in the real newspaper office. There, an almost extinct time of the daily life of a newspaper is shown, with desks loaded with papers, precarious computers and spaces that were not exactly smoke-free. For their investigations, the chroniclers made telephone calls, consulted the archives of printed material and listened to testimonies recorded on cassettes.

The plot of True crime develops over almost 24 hours. While arguing with his superiors and having an affair with the wife of his immediate boss, Everett has to deal with a hot topic that was in charge of a young colleague, who died the night before in a car accident after the two shared a few drinks , flirtations and innuendo.

The woman had to interview Frank Beechum (Isaiah Washington), a man who is about to be executed in the local prison after being convicted of the murder of a young employee of a small business, a red-haired woman who was also pregnant. A couple of witnesses finished incriminating him, a fact that added a prejudicial social behavior towards the accused, a black man, married with a daughter. At that moment, that sixth sense begins to be activated, which Everett perceives as the only virtue. He is increasingly convinced that the conviction is unsupported, that the evidence provided is weak and that, consequently, the accused is not the true culprit of the murder.

As in the recent J’Accuse, by Roman Polanski, Eastwood turns the central character of the story into a figure determined to prove the innocence of someone who is falsely accused of a crime. But the time available to Lieutenant Colonel Georges Picquard to end Captain Alfred Dreyfus’ prison ordeal is not available to Everett. On the contrary, the journalist has to star in a true race against time to prevent Beechum from receiving a lethal injection.

“Everyone lies. I’m there to write it, ”says Everett before plunging into that frantic battle against time. True crime it could also be seen, almost unintentionally, as strong testimony against the death penalty. The film shows it without the need for underlining, with the simple recourse of accumulating samples of the routine and impersonal procedures that the authorities apply in these cases. While fighting a conviction that he considers unjust, Everett in turn receives the condemnation of his own family in scenes even more distressing than those starring an inmate about to cross “death row.”

Eastwood and Denis Leary in True Crime

Eastwood and Denis Leary in True Crime

But as in all Eastwood films, in True crime there is no place or meaning for that kind of “message.” The truth is elsewhere. Eastwood is not interested in associating the verisimilitude of the story with some fact in real life, but in constructing the meaning and logic of the narrative through the noble weapons of cinematographic language. He is accompanied here by great actors such as James Woods, Denis Leary and Washington himself. One of Eastwood’s real-life daughters, Francesca, fulfills the same role in fiction, and is also one of the authors of the theme that accompanies the end credits, “Why Should I Care,” performed by Diana Krall.

On True crime, Eastwood again chooses to observe the behavior of certain institutions from his mistrustful and suspicious stance, whose mistakes must be resolved based on determined individual attitudes. It leaves the bureaucratic and formal representative of the church out of place to allow the victim to be strengthened from his true faith, precisely the one that responds to the inner transformation of the character and not to a procedure. And he builds the lines of the story from the behavior of Everett, a true antihero who, over the course of two tense and desperate hours, begins to repent of all his sins.

True crime it is one of the more overlooked films in a stretch of Eastwood’s filmography that deserves a closer look. It is the one that appears at the end of the 90s, after the stage of A perfect world and The bridges of Madison, and precedes that of Mystical river and Million Dollar Baby. That time shows an Eastwood about to turn 70, more self-reflective and much more aware of the passage of time. At that stage (that of major works such as Midnight in the garden of good and evil, Absolute power, Blood debt, Space cowboys), Eastwood continues to ask himself questions about the meaning of violence and its moral consequences. Next to them, True crime it can be a great aperitif to savor while waiting for the imminent return of the latest classic. There is little time left for it to arrive Cry Macho.

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the origins of his classic alcoholic, abusive and distrustful antihero