Trouble With The Clint: Should Eastwood Have Retired 20 Years Ago?
Mack: I reject your claim that Clint has made a lot of bad movies over the past two decades, but I will meet you in the middle and say he's given us a lot of annoyingly mediocre or even below-average movies. To be quite honest, his success ratio is definitely in the shitty range, but since you brought up Woody Allen, let's use that comparison. Like Eastwood, Allen has made a lot of yawners over the past two decades, but last year, he gave us Midnight In Paris. Do you know why that happened? Because a miss or two or even 20 don't suck the talent out of a filmmaker. Someone who has always been talented remains talented, and it's the same way with Clint Eastwood. Unlike an overwhelming majority of directors, he's capable of making a brilliant movie. At any point, we could go to the theater and see something as good as Unforgiven or Madison County or Million Dollar Baby. Doesn't that possibility appeal to you at all? Wouldn't you rather be an optimist?
Sean: I see what you are saying. And I agree, to a certain extent. Eastwood (and Allen) remain capable of greatness. But the misses are soul-crushing experiences that are a chore to get through. J. Edgar was painful. Changeling was actual work. And I can't remember a SINGLE thing about it. Not a one.
Here's what I'd suggest, if you are unwilling to suggest a complete "out to pasture" verdict for Mr. Eastwood. He needs to stop making films annually. Clint hasn't missed very many years since Play Misty for Me back in 1971. I'd urge him to stop. Take a few years off between films. Wait for a script that really moves him. Speaks to him. Gives him a reason to work beyond, "I'm kind of bored and Warner Bros. is willing to fund me." Because yes, I would love to see Eastwood's next Bridges. But I don't want to have to sit through Invictus to get to it.
Mack: I like where your head is. In fact, I'm sure some of the movies Clint has made lately have been less about passion and more about getting out of the house. Unfortunately at 82, I'm not sure how many years he has left. I get that you'd want to remember Clint as a model of consistency and competence. It's never fun to get your hopes up and be disappointed by a director you have a lot of faith in, but based on all the joy he's already brought me, I'll keep going to the theater and giving him a chance. Maybe that makes me stupidly loyal, but I just can't help myself.
Sean: And neither, it appears, can Clint!
Should Clint Eastwood have retired 20 years ago?
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