Cry Macho


The lion in winter.

(2021) Drama (Warner Brothers) Clint Eastwood, Dwight Yoakam, Eduardo Minnett, Natalia Traven, Horacio Garcia Rojas, Fernanda Urrejola, Brytnee Ratledge, Paul Alayo, Daniel V. Graulau, Alexandra Ruddy, Ivan Hernandez, Lincoln A. Castellanos, Marco Rodriguez, Jorge-Luis Pallo, Rocko Reyes, Abiah Martinez, Ramona Thornton, Elida Munoz, Cesia Isabel Rosales, Ana Rey. Directed by Clint Eastwood

 

There’s no doubt that Clint Eastwood is a national treasure. Seventy years (!) into his career in Hollywood and ninety-one years of life aside, he has consistently made movies as an actor and a director that contribute to the cultural identity of the United States – even when he was making spaghetti westerns.

His latest feature – the 39th he’s directed and a number too high to count that he’s acted in – sees him as Mike Milo, a former rodeo star who had to retire due to a back injury. He’s been a horse trainer ever since. As the movie begins, he’s being fired by his longtime boss, Howard (Yoakam). Too much booze, too much age have both caught up with Mike. However, he isn’t unemployed long when Mike comes back, asking Mike to do something else for him – to go to Mexico and fetch his boy, whom he has not had much contact with, from his abusive mother and bring him back to Texas to live with his dad.

Seems simple enough, so Mike gets into his battered truck, pulls on his cowboy hat, turns on some twangin’ tunes and heads for the border. It’s 1980, so it’s still morning in America and the hordes of rapists and murderers haven’t started knocking on our doors quite yet. When Mike arrives in Mexico City, he discovers that the boy – Rafo (Minnett) has run away from home and his mom it turns out is a crime boss, something ol’ Howard neglected to mention (he also neglected to mention that he has ulterior motives in wanting his son back, but that will wait for a later reveal). The kid is on the mean streets making his way by his wits and by entering his pet rooster Macho in cockfights and apparently winning – there are two places in a cockfight, y’know: winner, and arroz con pollo.

The kids is intrigued by the notion of starting a new life with a father he’s never met – which makes him a damn sight better than I might be in those circumstances – so off they go, back to the U.S. of A. However, Mamacita (Urrejola) has sent some goons to get her son back. Mike and Rafo end up hiding out at the ranch of Marta (Traven) who lives in  the Mexican equivalent of BFE. There, she and Mike bond, Mike and Rafo bond and the kid comes closer to learning that toxic masculinity isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and that 91 isn’t too late to be a chick magnet.

This isn’t Eastwood’s best work by a country mile, nor did anyone really expect it to be. The bar is generally set high for his work and he usually delivers and that’s why even his lesser works are often more worthwhile than the best work of lesser directors. Every movie he makes feels like some kind of farewell; some are saying this might be his last movie, but I’ve been hearing that back since Gran Torino (and yes, I was one of those saying it) so I’ve learned never to bet that the prolific Eastwood has hung up his director’s spurs.

Eastwood, national treasure that he is, dominates the screen even if he’s long in the tooth for this kind of role. You have to feel for young Minnett who spends the most time onscreen with him; he’s a young actor not equal to the task, which is to say that even much more experienced actors would not be equal to the task. Eastwood is a legitimate movie star from an era when that meant something, and he is going to overwhelm just about anyone he’s paired with.

This isn’t the best-written film Eastwood has ever directed, unfortunately. Many of the plot points are cliches, and feel like their in there for their own sake rather than in serving the story. That’s not to say that there aren’t some really memorable moments here; there’s a scene in which Eastwood talks about his wife and son and as he does, a tear slowly rolls down his cheek. I can’t imagine anyone not being moved by that moment and I wish the movie had more of them.

Alas, no. This is more a movie in which Eastwood acts like a sensei to a young student who is at a point in his life where he can either lead a good life or make some can’t-come-back-from-those types of mistakes. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself – older men mentoring young boys have made some great movies over the years, from Karate Kid on down. It’s just this one feels particularly flat. That’s a shame, because there’s a lot to be said on the subject of toxic masculinity.

In the end, it’s still an Eastwood movie and there’s something valuable to be gleaned from that. However, this won’t be remembered as one of his finest works. In fact, it will likely be well down his list when ranked from best to worst. That, as I said, doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile viewing.

REASONS TO SEE: Even on work that isn’t his best Eastwood remains a solid reason to see a movie.
REASONS TO AVOID: Some of the plot points feel a bit forced.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some profanity as well as adult thematic elements.
TRIVIAL PURSUITS: This is the first Eastwood-directed film since 2010 (Hereafter) that isn’t based on or inspired by a true story.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: HBO Max (through October 17)
CRITICAL MASS: As of 10/7/21: Rotten Tomatoes: 59% positive reviews; Metacritic: 59/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: A Night in Old Mexico
FINAL RATING: 6/10
NEXT:
Wife of a Spy

New Releases for the Week of October 8, 2021


NO TIME TO DIE

(MGM) Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Rami Malek, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga

Daniel Craig takes his last lap as James Bond, as Bond is pulled out of a tranquil retirement to help an old friend on what at first seems to be a simple task. However, it turns into something far more dangerous as he comes up against a mysterious and deadly new villain armed with dangerous technology.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Spy Action
Now Playing: Wide
Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images, brief strong language and some suggestive material)

American Insurrection

(Saban) Nadine Malouf, Nick Westrate, Brandon Perea, Sarah Wharton. In a future America (well, let’s hope not), a civilian militia has begun tracking everyone not white, straight and cisgender through a high-tech barcode system. A group of friends decide to escape the oppression and flee to Canada but that will be no easy task.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Sci-Fi Action
Now Playing: Studio Movie Grille Sunset Walk
Rating: R (for some strong violence, language throughout and some sexuality)

Azor

(MUBI) Fabrizio Rongione, Elli Medeiros, Stéphanie Cléau, Alexandre Trocki. Appropriate material given the recent release of the Pandora papers, a Swiss private banker heads to Buenos Aires during the military junta of the 1970s to reassure their wealthy clients after their representative there mysteriously disappears.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: NR

I’m Your Man

(Bleecker Street) Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw. In order to get funding for her own research, a young scientest agrees to live with a humanoid robot tailored to be her perfect mate.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Romantic Comedy
Now Playing: CMX Plaza Café Orlando
Rating: R (for some sexual content and language)

Lamb

(A24) Noomi Rapace, Hilmir Snær, Guðnason, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson. The studio that brought you Midsommar brings you another international horror masterpiece as a childless couple in Iceland find something disturbing in their sheep pen. They will soon face the consequences of defying the will of nature.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Horror
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Enzian, Regal Waterford Lakes
Rating: R (for some bloody violent images and sexuality/nudity)

Who Do You Think I Am?

(Cohen Media Group) Juliette Binoche, François Civil, Guillaume Goulx, Charles Berling. After being ghosted by her much younger lover, a middle aged single mom creates a fake online profile of a vivacious 20-something woman to snoop on her ex, but finds herself getting into an increasingly more intimate online relationship with his roommate.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website

Genre: Romance
Now Playing: Cinematique Daytona
Rating: NR

COMING TO VIRTUAL CINEMA/VOD:

Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman
Convergence: Courage in a Crisis
(Tuesday)
Fever Dream
(Wednesday)
The Gig Is Up
Jacinta
Killing Eleanor
(Tuesday)
Madame X
Madres
The Manor
Pokémon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle
The Secret of Sinchanee
South of Heaven
Survive the Game
Witkin and Witkin

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Azor
Fever Dream
Lamb
Madres
The Manor
No Time to Die
The Secret of Sinchanee