Cry Macho (2021)
In 2004 I sat beside Clint Eastwood for an hour and a half. One of the main things we chatted about was the longevity of directors.
John Ford, Howard Hawks, and even Billy Wilder in their early or mid-70s had lost their influence and did not have the opportunity to direct anymore. Ford lived 7 years after his final feature, Hawks 11 years, and Wilder 14 years.
Clint obviously had his sight set on going beyond them.
In 1979 his production company Malpaso was created, with which he could give himself the go-ahead. And Warner Bros. had learned their lesson when they initially rejected Million Dollar Baby (2004), which Clint directed and acted in. It won the Oscar for Best Picture, and Eastwood won for Best Director.
Cry Macho perhaps is more wish fulfillment and fantasy than Clint's usual reality based work. It can be seen as partly a vanity performance in a wayward film. But it can also be seen as a phenomenon.
Cry Macho is a film that is produced, directed, and starred in by a man who now is 91 years of age. That is mythic.
It may be a shock to see the iconic actor as spindly and somewhat faltering. His hand shakes and his voice is a weak rasp. But he still wears a cowboy hat.
The first hour portrays Clint's character Mike Milo as a loser. It's not the usual role for Eastwood. The character is not in control. He is a former rodeo star and horse trainer who is fired and is without any purpose.
Mike is hired by ranch boss (Dwight Yoakam) to go into Mexico and recover his 12-year old son Rafo (Eduardo Minett), who supposedly lives with his ex-wife.
When Mike arrives in Mexico, he finds the wife, who laughs at him mockingly. Who mocks Clint? She calls him, "You poor fool." Clint just takes the abuse.
The wife doesn't know or care where the son is. He is somewhere drinking, stealing, and participating in cock fights.
When Mike tracks down Rafo, he convinces him to go back to Texas with him. They go on a journey.
The second hour picks up, when the Eastwood character shows some competence. When Mike and Rafo stay in a small town, they are welcomed by Marta (Natalia Traven), a generous cantina owner, whose daughter, son-in-law, and husband died of an illness. She was left to take care of her two young granddaughters. Mike, Rafo, Marta, and the girls all bond.
But Mike and Rafo have to continue on their fitful trip.
Clint suffers from the Robert Redford complex. Age is no consideration. In one scene he punches and knocks down a man who is 50 years younger. In another, Mike breaks wild horses. He's on one rearing furiously. Who cares, it's Clint.
And two women are drawn romantically to him. One sexually. Fortunately for us, he declines. Whew.
Long ago, when I asked Clint whether he'd ever consider doing a film with Dirty Harry Callahan as an old man, he responded that he wouldn't. He said, "Are you going to have him driving along the highway in a trailer with an AARP sign on one side...?"
Maybe that wouldn't have been such a bad idea. He could do target practice with his Magnum 45. Instead, in Cry Macho, he winds up dancing, kissing, and hugging.
Near the end, Mike says to Rafo, "I'll tell you something, the Macho thing is overrated." Huh? Clint, what have you done with Harry?
During the credits, country crooner Will Banister sings the theme song, "Find a Home." The end winds up in Mexico. Of course, it was really shot in New Mexico.
Clint told me that he likes "to be unpredictable." Throughout his career that has been one of his major tenets. It has served him well.
The acting is solid, with a fighting chicken named Macho stealing the film.
Despite comments to the contrary, in Cry Macho, Macho still lives.
And so does Clint.