Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I did, in fact, wince and cry aloud

Am I the only person in the world who thinks Clint Eastwood should go back to making Westerns -- and stay there?

A friend of mine emailed me yesterday to tell me how much she loved Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino... I'm sorry, both of those movies were over-earnest and sucky.

More than that, they were the kinds of "socially conscious" movies that Stanley Kramer produced in the 1950s. What could you find objectionable about their politics? Nothing.

Same thing can be said about Invictus.

Invictus (the title of which is taken from Henley's poem) is about how after apartheid Nelson Mandella (Morgan Freeman) reached out to whites by actively supporting the (essentially) Afrikaner rugby team, the Springbok, and inspired them to make it to the World Cup and win. (I don't feel at all guilty about spoiling the ending. If you couldn't see what the ending was, well, you're not old enough for movies.)

Nelson Mandella is the closest thing we have to a living saint, and he's treated with the kind of holy reverence that makes a good movie pretty much impossible.

But even with the syrupy message, Invictus pretty much sucks on its own terms. It's also completely formulaic and boring. During the climactic match I found myself nodding off for a few minutes. "What happened?" I asked my movie companion.

"Not much."

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Plus, honestly, who give a shit about rugby?