germany year zero (roberto rossellini, 1948)
music friday: julia michaels

geezer cinema: richard jewell (clint eastwood, 2019)

It's a Clint Eastwood movie. I'm tempted to stop there ... I feel like Clint-as-director is consistent, if rarely great (I think Mystic River comes closest to greatness). But I don't want to get carried away ... I liked his Iwo Jima movies more than most people, and I have a soft spot in my heart for Bronco Billy, but some of his earlier westerns like The Outlaw Josey Wales and Pale Rider aren't all that. Plus, movies like Absolute Power stink. Mostly, I call him consistent because he has a what-you-see-is-what-you-get feel, because his movies are always straightforward (just as we are told his work on the set as a director is straightforward).

Richard Jewell is straightforward. It lays out the facts of the story chronologically. It doesn't shy away from Jewell's flaws, and you could argue those flaws are why he was in a place to be a hero. The FBI and the press are the villains, but they are mostly not cartoon villains.

But then there's reporter Kathy Scruggs, played by Olivia Wilde. She comes closest to a cartoon, and there's a reason her real-life colleagues complained. She is wily ... she uses sex to get information ... she is the primary example of how the press made Jewell's life hell. Some of this might have been true, but it's safe to say, not all of it (that sex part is especially scuzzy). And while Jon Hamm's FBI agent was a composite with a fictional name, the film uses Scruggs' real name, casting aspersions on the real person in the process. It doesn't seem fair.

There is some good acting going on, as is usual in an Eastwood film ... he knows when to leave his actors alone. Paul Walter Hauser as the title character, Sam Rockwell as his lawyer, and Kathy Bates as his mother all shine (Bates got an Oscar nomination, losing to Laura Dern in Marriage Story). It's a Clint Eastwood movie. You know what you are getting beforehand, and then you get it. The treatment of Scruggs is a slip-up, so Richard Jewell won't be remembered as his finest work. But, as one reviewer said, it's "probably the best film ever made by an 89-year-old director".

Here are the first ten minutes:


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