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Eastwood Directs: The Untold Story (2013)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Richard Schickel directs his third film on Clint Eastwood and this one here lines up an all-star cast giving their thoughts and opinions on everything from his movies to actually working with him. Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Tommy Lee Jones, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank, Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, Marcia Gay, Tim Robbins, Brian Glazer and Gene Hackman are just a few of the people on here telling their stories about the legend. Best of all is that we also get to hear from Eastwood talking about how he got into directing, what he expects out of a production and best of all is hearing him talk about films that just didn't catch on with crowds like J. EDGAR. Overall this here is an incredibly fun documentary that has all sorts of great stories being told and we also get some behind-the-scenes footage of Eastwood working on films like THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, MYSTIC RIVER, MILLION DOLLAR BABY and UNFORGIVEN. I really thought the documentary did a great job at making the viewer feel as if they had worked with the man himself. In other words, after hearing all of these stories you really do feel as if you know how Eastwood works, what he expects out of an actor and what can make him angry on a set. I think it's quite telling at how respected the man is just by all the names that have attached themselves to this film. If there's a problem with the picture it's the fact that it runs just 62-minutes, which is just way too short and especially considering how many people are here. There are films like BRONCO BILLY, PALE RIDER and others that aren't even mentioned, which is a bit disappointing but there's still plenty here to make it worth viewing.
As Clint Eastwood hit his mid-eighties, Richard Schickel directed his
third documentary on the actor-director-producer-music writer.
It takes the usual form of these documentaries, a series of talking heads, the actors and writers and other talents he has worked with. It's a pretty distinguished list of colleagues and Schickel has finally gotten the point of his subject. Clint Eastwood is a professional and those who work with him recognize it. Like the talent of the Studio era of movie making -- he arose during its decline and demolishment -- he doesn't boast of artistic vision or important messages. Eastwood finds projects that interest him, works with people he can respect and doesn't make a fuss in the process. That quiet sense of competence and trust infuses his productions with a smoothness that astonishes and enraptures the people he works with.
What the movies shows without saying directly is the intense taste and intelligence with which Eastwood makes movies. His seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards the box office results is belied by the excellence and commitment shown in his work. Does every movie he works on succeed? By no means. However his workmanlike attitude and his frequently compelling work make him one of the few solidly middlebrow movie makers still working and this documentary shows us why.
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