Friday, August 31, 2012

READY FOR HIS CLOSE-UP. Every possible gag has been played on it, so I will only try to imagine what was going on in Clint Eastwood's mind. I like to think he went back in reverie to the 1972 Academy Awards, when he was shoved onstage to cover as MC for a tardy Charlton Heston and, after a Sergio Leone standoff with the cue cards, hissed at the cameras, "This ain't my bag, man."

Eastwood has better acquitted himself at the Oscars since, but he may have been thinking lately that, back in '72 when the hippies were taking over Hollywood (and he was talking like a hippie himself, to his shame), he really had a chance to turn things around, to tell the longhairs where to get off, but he lacked the skills and hell, maybe the guts to do so -- all those people, watching at the same time! No retakes! -- and wilted under the pressure.

Since then, however, he had been elected Mayor of Carmel, and attended many dinners where critics pantheonized him; the world still laid roses at his feet, even though his voice was now just a husk and when he got all action-heroic for the cameras he looked like he was taking a stress test at a cardiac clinic. Part of him knew better, but another part of him -- the Hollywood part -- thought that if they loved him that much, he could do this thing and make them buy it. Never mind the script. He only had to do ten minutes. And hell, it was just television. He'd been a TV star before most of these punks had been born. Now that he was a living god, not only a star but an auteur, he could glide out there like Orson Welles doing Carson and everything would just fall into place. And if it didn't, well, there was always jazz piano.

I mean, I don't care, do you? If he makes Gran Torino: The Early Years I'll still go see it. Politics is bullshit, and it deserved what he gave it.


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