Clint Eastwood's Changeling Struggling for Early Buzz
by Alex Billington
October 3, 2008
Coming off of films like Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Letters from Iwo Jima, one would've expected Clint Eastwood to continue directing nothing but solid hits. His latest film, Changeling, had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and seemed to pick up some solid buzz. However, the film is currently showing at the New York Film Festival and reviews coming out of that have been rather dismal. At this point I'm not sure which opinion to trust more with such a wide range of reviews, but it's clear that Changeling isn't getting the early buzz that most thought it would.
The negative reviews from the NYFF have been coming in from a few sources, namely Karina Longworth at Spout. She jokingly says of the film: "We drink every time Angelina hysterically proclaims, 'He's not my son!' We get very drunk, and this may be why we can't figure out why Clint Eastwood made a cheap-looking Lifetime movie that eventually turns into an 'And justice for all!' episode of SVU." And apparently Ed Douglas of ComingSoon gave it a bad review too but that hasn't been published yet. The Playlist also isn't too happy with the film, saying, "While it's another stoic drama, with its graceful beats, measured tones and an Oscar-deserving performance by Angelina Jolie, Changeling, is also a little endlessly long, far-fetched and replete with the predictable classic Hollywood filmmaking notes that Oscar love."
On the other hand, those coming out of Cannes seemed to really like the film. Kim Voynar gave it a positive review, saying "he's an excellent storyteller, and does a solid job of translating true events into a dramatic story. There's no jarring wooden dialog here, no overt exposition… As with most of Eastwood's films, it's artfully shot and directed and very pretty to look at. Eastwood wrote the music for the film as well, and you could practically imagine the orchestra at the Oscars playing it in January." Additionally, our own Marco Cerritos gave it a very solid B+ rating, with some exuberant lines like: "Dripping with tension and suspense, the period crime thriller accomplishes two things: to successfully bring a disturbing true story to light and to immerse lead actress Angelina Jolie with a role she really sinks her teeth into."
So what gives? Is Changeling really that bad or is it really that good? I'm completely confused and now even more interested in seeing it for myself. The first trailer looked great, so I can say that I'm intrigued based on what I've seen so far. Being a very optimistic moviegoer, I'm just hoping that it's at least not as "endlessly long" and boring as everyone is making it out to be. I don't trust too many others reviews especially when I have the chance to see it on my own. I guess I just don't want to see Eastwood start to take his downward turn on a film like this. Who is worried about the lack of positive buzz?
Some thought that the Eastwood/Jolie collaboration alone would generate great buzz. But watching the trailer left me dissatisfied with the fact that the movie seemed more like a Lifetime or Hallmark channel movie of the week. However, if the movie is actually good, then I'm sure word of mouth will carry it through.
Pickle on Oct 3, 2008
Yeah, I'd value critics like Kenneth Turan and Kirk Honeycutt over ones like some guy from Spout.com.
Ethan on Oct 3, 2008
Or girl. Having been following this since before the production even began, I can say that the positive/negative ratio is about 85% in favour. Not too bad. Good enough for Best Actress and Best Screenplay nods, but not quite Best Film.
Rementoire on Oct 3, 2008
Alex, What you need to realise is that the negative, vitriolic reviews are coming from young reviewers in the blogosphere. These people don't generally care for Eastwood's classical style. At all. They'd be much happier reviewing The Dark Knight, or Fight Club, or The Departed. The rave reviews have (significantly) come from the grown ups - Todd McCarthy at Variety, Ken Turan over at The Envelope/LA Times, Mike Goodridge at Screen Daily, Glenn Kenny at his blog, ditto Emmanuel Levy, & so on. A good rule of thumb - & one I personally recommend - is that whenever you come across a review of an Eastwood movie that uses phrases like 'Lifetime movie', & 'Hallmark channel', don't bother reading any further you can be sure the author hasn't the slightest idea what he's talking about.
Frenchy on Oct 3, 2008
Alex, What you need to realise is that the negative, vitriolic reviews are coming from young reviewers in the blogosphere. These people don't generally care for Eastwood's classical style. At all. They'd be much happier reviewing The Dark Knight, or Fight Club, or The Departed. The rave reviews have (significantly) come from the grown ups - Todd McCarthy at Variety, Ken Turan over at The Envelope/LA Times, Mike Goodridge at Screen Daily, Glenn Kenny at his blog, ditto Emmanuel Levy, & so on. A good rule of thumb - & one I personally recommend - is that whenever you come across a review of an Eastwood movie that uses phrases like 'Lifetime movie', & 'Hallmark channel', don't bother reading any further you can be sure the author hasn't the slightest idea what he's talking about. ------------------------------------- ITA. Michael Phillips saw the film at Cannes and said it was excellent and Jolie gave an Oscar worthy performance. All the MAJOR critics loved it. But these bloggers who are not professional critics found it boring?? Who do I trust more?? Hmn...
Anonymous on Oct 3, 2008
All I need to know is that the film was given an outstanding ovation of (reportedly)10 minutes at Cannes for me to know that this film is worth seeing. Actually, the fact that these bloggers are trashing it, makes me even more intrigued and interested in watching the film. I doubt that Ron Howard, Clint Eastwood and Brian Grazer would have made a horrible film. I have read all of those "reviews" and I think they sound more like rants instead of objective, pragmatic film feedback.
Helen on Oct 3, 2008
I've never heard of this Karina Longworth person, but her review outs her as some young, already-jaded hipster doofus with little to no life experience. She's probably one of those people who laughed hysterically through their first viewing of The Exorcist, or E.T. The things that were moving to people just a short generation ago are now the fodder for the spoofs she and her Nick and Nora-esque cohorts grew up on. I hate to sound like an old fogey (hell I'm only in my mid-30's), but I guess I'm already at that age where know-it-all youngsters are starting to piss me the fuck off.
kevjohn on Oct 6, 2008
PLAYLIST calls the movie's plot "far-fetched", but its a true story... and we all know truth can be much stranger than fiction - and a lot more interesting. I plan to see it for myself.
TeriS on Oct 6, 2008
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