Ok it´s been a while and a few things have happened … or not like Brexit and the release of the uber noughty buoy Assange, but that will lie in a future post when the curtain goes down on Act III.

 I was kinda brought up on films rather than books and at one time use to go to the cinema every week with my dad.

So I had a certain familiarity of the industry & this led to me making movies as soon as the technology became freely available in the form of the digital video camera.
I was so intrigued I actually enrolled on an animation course in 3D animation (1993) at Bournemouth University, at a time when the technology (yet alone teaching) was fairly creaky; 12 hours to render a pretty basic three-minute 3D animation of a camera tracking shot.

Computer Generated Imagery:Robots in disguise.

Fast forward, and after Star Wars I became pretty disillusioned with the arc cinema had taken where storyline & acting had become subsumed by testosterone (teen) video-games, smash ´em up CGI (Transformers), and comics.  
Adult Storylines, dialogue & conventional stop-frame ( Ray HarryHausen) animation became largely redundant: Compared to what I learnt, some of this stuff was pretty jaw-dropping & it led to George Lucas  (American Graffiti ), developing the CGI company de jour ILM (Industrial Light and Magic … not exactly an exciting moniker).

As always, many rubbish films were green-lighted (I suffered many a Saturday morning with the UK National Children’s film programme) but to me, the advent of CGI ushered in an unheralded new era of puerile rubbish.

Hollywood like me also remained fairly indifferent to this brave new CGI world, here´s a list of the top 10 Academy pictures, & biggest grossing pictures: 

Best Picture Best grossing Picture
1. ‘The Godfather’ (1972) Gone with the Wind (1939)
2. ‘Casablanca’ (1942)  Star Wars (1977)
3. ‘Schindler’s List’ (1993) The Sound of Music (1965)
4. ‘On the Waterfront’ (1954) E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
5. ‘All About Eve’ (1950) Titanic (1997)
6. ‘Amadeus’ (1984)  The Ten Commandments (1956)
7. ‘The French Connection’ (1971) Jaws (1975)
8. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ (1991) Doctor Zhivago (1965)
9. ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975) The Exorcist (1973)
10. ‘Moonlight’ (2016) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Absent friends

Amadeus/Silence notwithstanding (I would add Citizen Kane, Un Chien Andalou, and Betty Blue but hey!). You will notice a complete absence of any CGI driven movies, and only Moonlight features a black director.

Also conspicuous by his absence is a personal favourite Clint Eastwood who has released his hundredth project (according to Cinemania Spain) the Mule. Round about the same time HBO/Netflix has released Leaving Neverland.

 Eastwood kinda became the Brando of my generation with his classic Hollywood leading man looks, but unlike Brando there are no doubts; 100% American machismo. I forgot he did the series Rawhide in the early sixties, but Eastwood came to my attention with the Dirty Harry (Harry Callaghan ) series. I was late to the Don Siegel franchise not picking up till Clint himself had taken the reins in Magnum Force, which my dad took me to.

I was knocked out by the power of Harry Callaghan; both his ability to execute & his unflinching “self-righteousness”, and his monosyllabic cool communication. Who can forget the cool of his line “Do you feel lucky , punk?”. I think this was the time, I began to look at the Clint back catalogue, specifically his work with Sergio Leone.

High Noon

  The second wave of Spaghetti westerns were around the time the Beatles were changing the world of youth. The films were assumed to be low budget retreads of the great American westerns such as Shane, High Noon, and the John Wayne movies. However whilst being visually similar, these movies stylistically were Art movies, where dialogue was minimal with visuals coming to fore, and often as their titles implied, there were no clear protagonists. These films were more in synch with the original Wild West than any Hollywood propaganda. This had a huge affect on a young Eastwood who unlike “method man” Brando had little classical training, and hence found traditional “scripted” theatre based acting problematic. However, in the visual medium Leone espoused, Eastwood felt very comfortable & indeed ¨Show not tell¨ became a hallmark both in his moviemaking and when he was to step up to the Director role.

No name, no pack drill

For Eastwood the way everything worked, the visuals, the pauses were as important if not more so than snappy[1]dialogue. To be honest, it felt hard keeping up, as Eastwood departed on an extremely eclectic choice of work, including Play Misty for Me ( 1971); The Dirty Harry Series (1970), a spattering of war films, and the baffling musical Paint your wagon(1969).

I bailed out totally at the thought of his Billy Bronco series (1980) featuring Sandra Locke; totally bizarre. I remember watching Firefox (1982) with my dad, totally bemused by plot & Clint´s role. However, there was a weird kind of momentum going on in this randomness. From 1971 Eastwood was directing on a fairly regular basis (via his Malpaso Productions) and no matter how strange the project, he tended to return a profit; his films were delivered on time, often under budget. It was clear he was learning from each experience in film whether good, bad or indifferent.

The antithesis of the Brian Blessed school of overacting, or the Rodger Moore eyebrow, Eastwood evolved a minimalist, terse acting style, and became the iconic one take Hollywood director. The thing with this style of direction (and acting), was not only was it economical, but Director Eastwood became a master of the style, handed down to him by Sergio Leone, who freely admitted he gave little direction to his stars as his English was so poor, and famously said; “He has two expressions, with his hat and without !“. Also these films would never have had the same impact without those haunting Ennio Morricone soundtracks,
Things seemed all on a level until he ran for mayor of his small town Hollywood enclave in Carmel (1986). What could possibly go wrong?

Well quite a lot as Eastwood was subsequently exposed as a bully verging on a misogynist by his partner Sandra Locke when they broke up in 1989. What had always seemed an unlikely  relationship, exploded into the courts where Eastwood´s personal life was exposed, and a settlement was eventually  reached costing him several million dollars in 1996.

Locked in syndrome

Sandra Locke single-handedly corroded Eastwood´s all American Hero image. However true to his tough-guy image (and maybe Hollywood connections), Eastwood recovered and went on to star in, direct and produce many successful films,

Eastwood by no means a weekend piano player directed Bird (Charlie Parker)1988, Outlaw Josey Wales, and his homecoming The Unforgiven(1992). Thus Eastwood finally became enshrined as a Hollywood statesmen, as he picked up Oscars for The Bridges of Madison County (1995), Million Dollar Baby, (allegedly shot in 37 days) and went on to direct significant work like Gran Torino (2008), J.Edgar (2011) and the Nelson Mandela based Invictus (2009). His latest the Mule opened this year (2019) to decent reviews. For the unreconstructed cave dweller of The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Eastwood was never scared to confront such perennial ailments such as corruption, psychosis, homosexuality, immigration, racism, and even chauvinism.
So Eastwood is currently on a high, as a new film/documentary Leaving Neverland lays to waste another American legend in the post #metoo era. According to Sandra Locke, Eastwood engaged her in an abusive relationship for several (13) years, and the latest two protagonists of Leaving Neverland (Wade Robson & James Safechuck) make a similar claim against Michael Jackson. Whilst Locke´s claim had a professional basis (she was an established actress), Robson & Safechuck were kids and hence their claim is not professional.

Jackson Heights

Imho Michael Jackson is right up there with Clint, as arguably the best musical artist that I, and probably the world has ever seen (yes I schelped to Wembley in 1988), consistently producing high-quality groundbreaking work, from Ben to the post-humous Love never had it so Good and then there were the amazing videos, dancing et al. I think we accept that our heroes all have feet of clay, & Clint has paid for this. However he is still alive & there is a sense that the courts can punish, give restitution and rehabilitate a miscreant. With Michael Jackson being dead, this cannot happen except for the restitution part. I think of Bill Cosby languishing in jail for misdemeanours, he committed many years ago; he didn´t kill anyone. Whatever Cosby did, happened where only two people were present, though there is a certain balance of probabilities; does lightning occur three times? Yet our (U.S.) biblical swingeing justice system says he must pay by possibly dying in jail for his crimes, despite the good he has also undoubtedly performed!

Death hath no dominion?

My question is does anyone really come out of all this with any credit? Michael Jackson seems to have been a pathological paedophile. Bill Cosby & Clint Eastwood seem to be sexual predator, & chauvinist respectively.
I teach and I see situations that need intervention every week. Given the context (weak v strong etc)   I usually intervene if I can. Retrospective analysis notwithstanding, making interventions weeks or years later, would be pretty pointless, unless sitting on the psychiatrist’s couch.

yo so Retro

I think this is what troubles me with these retrospective justice actions, as I wonder who really benefits from pursuing someone who is dead, or on their last lap of the mortal coil? The concept that a crime is a crime I totally agree with; I understand the unrelenting pursuit of the perpetrators of say the Holocaust. But, we also need a pragmatic sense of forgiveness, where we recognise that punitive action has become redundant with the lapse of time. The fact that you only report these crimes years after, is pretty difficult to justify unless you were literally kidnapped (slavery trade). Let me reiterate I´m not arguing (like his dreadful dysfunctional family) these crimes never happened; the Jordan Chandler case is enough for me to conclude that some very strange things were occurring in Neverland. It´s just that the whole thing stinks; no one comes out of this with any credit and kinda makes you feel kind of nauseous.

Ah gon widda win!

Notwithstanding National reparations, we now seem to live in an age that financial restitution is the be all and end all, and I question this, where people have been psychologically damaged.   We have practitioners for this, but our aye for an eye culture often refuses to mention this, as if these situations are just another means of implementing our capitalist notions of winners & losers. The Neverland case now seems headed the same way as Sandra Locke, and Cosby to court, but in the words of Rhett Butler “Quite frankly … I don´t give a damn¨


[1] This has kind of reversed by Q. Tarrantino, but not totally.

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