by Julian Spivey
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eduardo Minett & Natalia Traven
Runtime: 1 hour & 44 minutes
“Cry Macho,” which premiered in theaters and on HBO Max on Friday, Sept. 17, is Clint Eastwood’s 40th feature film as a director, most of which have starred himself in either the lead or a major supporting role.
At 91-years old Eastwood is still putting out at least one film a year, which is truly amazing. Rarely, if ever, in the history of film have we seen a director this prolific in his late career output and it’s certainly never happened in which he’s also the lead in many of those films.
“Cry Macho,” based on the 1975 American novel of the same name by N. Richard Nash (who was also a screenwriter most known for penning director Otto Preminger’s 1959 adaptation of the Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess”), has been attempted to be adapted into film for nearly as long as it’s been around, but finally came to fruition with Eastwood at the helm.
The film, set in 1980, sees grizzled old Texan Mike Milo (Eastwood), a retired former rodeo star and horse trainer hired by his ex-boss Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam) to go down to Mexico and rescue his 13-year old son Rafo (Eduardo Minett) from his estranged wife and her boyfriend, whom he believes to be abusing Rafo. Later we find out there’s a bit more to why Polk wants Rafo in the United States with him that kind of puts a damper on the film’s ending, but it doesn’t do a whole lot to sway Mike from doing this job.
What results in “Cry Macho” is ultimately a nice buddy flick between Mike and Rafo. Mike represents the “American Dream” to Rafo, who admires the cowboy lifestyle, even if Mike is a gringo. The chemistry between Eastwood and Minett, in his American film debut, is good enough for the film, which truly relies on it. This is mostly the story of this old man and this Mexican teen, with a bit of a love story added on involving Mike and a widowed café keeper Marta, played by Natalia Traven.
I enjoyed “Cry Macho” and I believe if you’re looking for a simple film for an easy evening viewing it’s well-worth your time, especially if you’re into cowboy movies (even though it’s not an outright traditional Western).
I had one major issue with the film and it’s Eastwood the actor as chosen by Eastwood the director. Eastwood’s performance in “Cry Macho” is good. It’s just not very believable, as he’s a 91-year old man doing things a 91-year old man shouldn’t be doing, except for a scene or two where he saunters around so slowly you can’t help but wonder if much of the film’s one hour and 44 minute runtime is just going to be him shuffling around.
I understand Eastwood not wanting to give up the reigns as an actor and he’s done enough in the industry to truly be able to do whatever he wants to do, but this movie would’ve been better off with a younger actor in the lead. Now, I don’t necessarily mean we need to see Ryan Gosling slip down to Mexico and save Rafo – no, I get that you need someone older and grizzled in this role. But Eastwood in a role where he punches somebody in the face and in one particularly cringy scene is being seduced by an actress who’s 52 years his junior is just laughable. I think the movie would’ve been a bit better off if Eastwood had put someone like maybe Kevin Costner, who’s 66-years old, but a bit more believable to be doing such things in the role.
by Tyler Glover
Director: Kay Cannon
Starring: Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel & Billy Porter
Runtime: 1 hour & 53 minutes
Once upon a time, a beautiful girl fell in love with a handsome prince, and they lived happily ever after. This is the story that has been told to all of us in fairy tales for years. A girl achieves all her dreams simply by finding love with a man who gives her all she needs. An example of this kind of fairytale is “Cinderella.” On September 3rd, Amazon Prime released their version of the classic starring pop star Camila Cabello in the titular role. Over the years, there have been so many versions that when learning of yet another one being released, it begs the question: is this necessary?” To see the same story over and over again could be “bippity boppity boo-ring” but this new installment in the ‘Cinderella’ franchise adds some different aspects that make it worthy of being seen.
The first aspect this film adds is female empowerment. In Amazon Prime’s “Cinderella,” Ella (Cabello) dreams of opening her own shop, Dresses By Ella. She lives in a very patriarchal society where the idea of a woman in business is laughable to its citizens. To see Cinderella have dreams of her own and be actively pursuing these dreams is very progressive. Her focus is on selling dresses. If love comes her way, then it does but she does not want to sacrifice her dreams for a romance. This idea makes this film something I am glad my daughters got to see. Cinderella is still practically a servant to her stepmother, Vivian (played by the wickedly talented Idina Menzel) and her two stepsisters, Malvolia and Narissa. The film follows all the normal beats you would expect from “Cinderella,” but there is another layer that supports this female power notion. The Prince has a sister, Gwen, that is very interested in running the country. To see two women going after their dreams in a fairy tale is very comforting and shows a progression in fairytale storytelling that is heading in the right direction.
Another aspect this film adds is the movie musical element. There are some original songs (“Million To One,” being the best) but the film has lots of pop and rock songs that give the film almost a “Glee” aspect. From being a fan of the “Glee” TV series, every week, I would get excited to see what songs they were going to cover that week to tell their stories. After the first couple of pop songs, I got curious as to what was coming next. The highlights for me were the Prince singing “Somebody To Love,” the Wicked Stepmother singing “Material Girl,” and the Prince and Cinderella singing Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” Another thing this film has in common with “Glee” is that in focusing on the songs that were going to be performed, it took away from some depth in the storytelling. Most of the characters almost appeared to be one note and were not as complex as they could have been, which took away from the film.
The three standouts in the film were Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel and Billy Porter as the Fabulous Godmother. Cabello does an exceptional job as Cinderella by truly diving into the character and making us feel her passion. It makes us root for her. Menzel is equally as fantastic as the stepmother, Vivian. Menzel could not have done better with what she was given. I just wish she would have been given a little more. That leaves Porter as the Fabulous Godmother ... and let me tell you, he is quite fabulous. The character that left me wanting more was the Godmother. I wish we could have seen more but I know this role has always been a very supporting one. Casting Porter as the Fabulous Godmother is another aspect that makes this film exciting because Porter knocks it out of the park.
While the progressive storytelling and musical aspect has been added to the “Cinderella” story, the film does not focus enough on character development for viewers to fully embrace each character. It makes the film good but not great. While this may not be the best version of “Cinderella,” it will be a mostly entertaining two hours for you and the family.
by Julian Spivey
Worth – Netflix – September 3
There’s going to be a lot of 9/11 programming in the early part of the month with the 20th anniversary of one of the saddest days in American history coming up and most of that programming is going to be documentary. However, if you’re looking for a movie based on truth surrounding 9/11 and its aftermath director Sara Colangelo’s “Worth” premieres Friday, Sept. 3 on Netflix. “Worth,” stars Michael Keaton as lawyer Kenneth Feinberg who is tasked with putting a dollar value on victims of the terrorist attack and the emotional toll that takes on him.
News of the World – HBO Max – September 4
“News of the World,” a Western starring Tom Hanks (who I’ve always wanted to see in a Western) and directed by Paul Greengrass, premiered last Christmas and was on my “must-watch” list, but I was avoided movie theaters at the time and didn’t want to shell out $20 or more on video on demand. So, like I’m sure many of you will, I’ll be seeing it now as it premieres on HBO Max on Saturday, Sept. 4. Hanks stars as an aging Civil War vet tasked with taking a young girl taken in by the Kiowa tribe to her last remaining family.
The Premise – Hulu – September 16
“The Premise,” premiering on Hulu on Thursday, Sept. 16, comes from creator B.J. Novak (most known for his work on “The Office”) and is an anthology comedy-drama series featuring a different story starring different actors in each episode and will take on some of the biggest issues of our modern times. The episodes will feature such talented performances as Tracee Ellis Ross, Kaitlyn Dever, Lola Kirke, Jon Bernthal, Lucas Hedges, Ben Platt, Beau Bridges, the late Ed Asner and more.
Cry Macho – HBO Max – September 17
Let’s get this out of the way first – there are aspects of “Cry Macho,” the latest film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, that are absurd. The fact that Eastwood at 91, even if that’s likely not his character’s age, would be hired by anybody to track down and rescue anybody is asinine. However, Eastwood makes good films (mostly) and since it’ll be up on HBO Max for 31 days, while also premiering simultaneously in theaters, I might as well give it a go. Also, the fact that Dwight Yoakam is in a supporting role is an added perk for me.
The Starling – Netflix – September 24
“The Starling,” directed by Theodore Melfi (director of “St. Vincent” and “Hidden Figures”) and starring Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd, looks like a truly touching work that’ll likely be sure to bring tears to your eyes. McCarthy and O’Dowd play a married couple who are struck with a life tragedy and go about it in different ways – McCarthy’s Lilly tries to trudge forward in life, while O’Dowd’s Jack basically checks out of reality. The film co-stars Kevin Kline as an ex-psychiatrist turned veterinarian, with a dark past, who befriends Lilly along the way.