January 3, 2005

Clint's Newest Not Such A KO


If only Cinecultist had the technology capabilities or know-how or clearance rights of a commercial movie review website, we'd love to post little wav files from Clint Eastwood's new movie, Million Dollar Baby, so you could hear these outrageous accents put to celluloid. For a flick that appears to be set in LA (based on the surfboards and beach front restaurant), everyone is totally down home, y'all. We've been doing impressions of the classic lines all weekend. "I don't train girls." "Maryann, they laugh atchoo." "Mo Calackalacka!" Ok, fine. We can't remember how they actually pronounce the Gaelic phrase on the back of Hilary Swank's green silk robe, but it's something along those lines.

Hilary plays Maggie Fitzgerald, a young woman boxer who's trash (so says Morgan Freeman's ever present voice over) but she's got a dream. She just needs to be trained by Frankie Dunn, the curmudgeon of a cutman, who owns the Hit Pit Gym and has some powerful guilt over the deterioration of the relationship with his daughter. After some prompting from his half-blind and former fighter gym assistant (Freeman), Frankie trains Maggie to the pinnacle of the welter weight. That is until tragedy strikes. Oh right, that pesky tragedy which always seems to intercede.

We suppose if you've been making movies as long as Clint has, you're bound to become a cliche of yourself. Some might find his growl, craggy face and irreligious banter with his priest comforting (ah that ol' Clint, back at it!) but CC just found it sort of silly. At times, his growl even seemed to overpower the growling of the 6 train underneath the Anjelicka theater on Houston. The plot also can be read in two ways lyrical fairy-tale or overly simplistic, depending on whether you're caught up in the training of Maggie and the redemption of Frankie. Either way though, CC found the plot backed into an impossible corner in the third act. Without giving it away, the movie gets to a point where there can be no happy ending and the come uppances seem half assed based on these stakes.

Swank delivers the goods in these scenes, and we won't be surprised to see all three stars on the Oscar rosters this year. If only we could have had that final scene with Eastwood and Swank, with all of that vague inklings of romance and filial devotion intermingled with such exquisite complexity, minus the lemon pie, poor white trash relatives and Danger the skinny white boxer underdog junk. If only Oscar contenders could be striped of their fluffy trappings and we could pay the $10 bucks for pure performance in a bite sized, chewable caplet.

Posted by karen at January 3, 2005 9:28 PM