Like a Fine Wine
Watched Mystic River last night on DVD. I had read the book (and loved it), so I knew what was going to happen, but was still very curious to see the film, given the awards and critical hype it received when it came out a year or two ago. The movie and, especially, the performances, were all they had been billed as, consistent excellence throughout, but what struck me, watching this so soon after seeing Million Dollar Baby, is how good Clint Eastwood is as a director when he's in what seems to be his wheelhouse--making naturalistic, near-melodrama about the lower class. The accuracy with which he portrays the people and their environments in both films is simply refreshing--so many Hollywood movies seem to be about prettying up characters and places, putting a gloss and sheen on things to make the neat and clean. In both films, we see real, lived-in locations--waterstains and peeling paint and cracked wood and the rest. And we see the same things in the acting, the same lived-in, un-self conscious portrayals. It's easy to dismiss these films as old-fashioned, but to take classic storytelling techniques and use them well is nothing to be ashamed of. Even after hearing the stories of how reluctant Warner Bros. was to back Mystic River I find it hard to imagine that the back-to-back artistic and commercial successes of these films don't have producers more eager to get behind whatever project Eastwood is interested in next.