I'm one of those pissants who can't decide if I've deep-sixed a cautious admiration for Clint Eastwood out of envy, or if I'm legitimately peeved with the man (ditto Steven Spielberg). This morning I was all set to commit to the latter position, but then I read Cowtown Pattie's review of Flags Of Our Fathers. She closes with this:
When I saw Saving Private Ryan, I had to take a quick exit mid-movie to the ladies room. In the dark hallway outside, I came upon two older Vets standing off to the side. The old soldiers were sobbing quietly and consoling one another. I was embarrassed to be, albeit innocently, intruding into their private grief. It is these experiences I will remember more so than the actual films.
Well ... now me, too. There is something about watching these films get made, then putting on my cap and jacket and paying money to see them, that niggles at me. Isn't it just a bit tawdry of me to watch this stuff from the safety of my theatre seat, and expect to feel anything (thrills! chills! spills!) other than profound shame? And how should we judge the artistic intentions and moral obligations of Eastwood and Spielberg? Or are "moral obligations" a nettlesome subject that is only applied to the money-paying movie goer?
Back when Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line were in theatres, my mother asked my great-uncle, a veteran who served the complete European tour from Juno Beach to Berlin, if he was at all inclined to see these movies. "Nope. Not at all." How about returning to Europe, and re-visiting some of the places he'd seen as a young man?
He was quiet for a bit, then he said that back when the surviving members of his regiment were on the boat leaving Europe, they all watched as the shoreline receded into the gray water. One of them wondered aloud if he mightn't someday return to the place. Someone else piped up and said, "Why? To look for your conscience?"
And that was all my great-uncle was going to say about that.
Elsewhere: Eastwood's FOOF gets a "meh" from Reelfanatic.