Review: ‘Cry Macho’ a sentimental reminder of Eastwood’s talent

Clint Eastwood in Cry Macho / Warner Bros.

No movie star or for that matter actor or director has done it better for longer than Clint Eastwood.

At 91, he’s still acting and directing, and his latest film, “Cry Macho,” opens this weekend in theaters and is also streaming on HBO Max. Despite his age, Eastwood’s star still shines as a director and actor.

There is a certain charm to the film for the Eastwood fan, but the movie plows little new ground, and for me at least, it falls on the lower end of the spectrum of the actor/director’s considerable output.

The story is based on a novel by N. Richard Nash, published in 1975, after the author attempted to sell it as a film script. The story has knocked around Hollywood ever since.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was set to star in an adaptation in 2011, but production was canceled short of making the film.

Eastwood had screenwriter Nick Schenk revamp Nash’s original screenplay, and the movie that will remind some of an “afternoon-special” attempt at a tough-guy movie was shot in New Mexico last year despite the challenge of Covid-19.

The story is simple. Eastwood’s character, a former rodeo roustabout and horse trainer Mike Milo, owes a debt to big-shot Texas rancher Howard (Dwight Yoakam) for bailing him out of hard times during a low point many years ago. Howard hires Milo to retrieve his 13-year-old son Rafo (Eduardo Minett) and the boy’s prize-fighting rooster, Macho, from the boy’s “abusive” mother in Mexico.

Milo is an ornery cuss in classic Eastwood style, but an honorable one who does like kids and and animals. He accepts the mission and seeks to retrieve Rafo and Macho.

The movie will remind some of John Wayne’s last film, “The Shootist” about an ailing gunfighter that co-starred a young Ron Howard as a teen whom Wayne’s character took under his wing. Eastwood’s Milo relates to young Rafo in a similar fashion.

“This macho thing is overrated,” Milo relates to the boy toward the climax of the movie. “You think you have all the answers, but then you get older and realize you don’t have any. By the time you figure it out, it’s too late.”

Eastwood’s Milo is a mellower more introspective, and perhaps wiser version of Eastwood’s laconic tough guy stereotype. Sure, Eastwood’s character throws a few punches, romances a lady, and is on the run in his attempt to rescue Rafo and the fighting chicken, but he does take a more leisurely pace.

For the most part the movie’s twists and turns can be anticipated, but the journey is mostly quick and enjoyable if you are an Eastwood fan. Natalia Traven is solid as the widow Milo lightly romances while Rafo takes a shine to one of her granddaughters during their stay on the ranch.

While the movie doesn’t really fall into the action-drama genre Eastwood is best known, that’s O.K. He’s made dozens of those films that we can rewatch whenever we want. This movie is somewhat different, maybe a little bit closer in line with his 1978 comedy “Any Which Way But Loose.”

Though some Eastwood fans might feel a bit let down by “Cry Macho,” I enjoyed the film’s slightly different flavor for what it is rather than what it is not.

(PG-13) 1 hr. 44 min.
Grade: B-

New in Local Theaters

Cry Macho (watch trailer) / (PG-13) 1 hr. 44 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale , Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne, 112 Drive In, Skylight

Copshop (watch trailer) / (R) 1hr. 48 min. / AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Skylight

Classic Corner – Citizen Kane

The cinematic classic of classics “Citizen Kane” plays Sunday at 3 the Malco Razorback Cinema in conjunction with Fathom Events. Many critics and film fans alike hail the 1941 Orson Welles-directed film as the start of modern motion pictures, and they rank the movie as one of the best if not the best movie ever made.

However for modern viewers, I’d say film’s milage varies.

No doubt, “Citizen Kane” is a great film and a landmark technical achievement by Welles and crew. All filmmakers owe him a debt of gratitude for stretching the medium beyond the the norms of the time with his cinematographer Gregg Toland’s use of deep focus, as well as the use of non-linear storytelling by co-screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz.

Editor Robert Wise gives a clinic on how to grab the viewer by the lapels with his groundbreaking editing style that gives the movie its ebb and flow. Bernard Hermann’s score is at once riveting and soothing, punctuating the movie flawlessly.

Simply put, the movie is a technical masterpiece, driven by the compelling story of tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Welles), a captain of industry, who dies alone at his fantastic estate known as Xanadu, while uttering only the single word “Rosebud.”

Kane’s death begins the movie where most film’s end, introducing us to the remarkable life Kane led.

He was a boy abandoned by his parents before inheriting a fortune, building a global newspaper empire and then aspiring to become President of the United States. However, he loses everything over an affair with a tawdry nightclub singer.

The movie unfolds through the eyes of the people surrounding Kane, each showing a different aspect of the man who became a legend and a mystery.

It is a great movie. Every serious film student should study it, and every movie buff should experience it at least once. As stated earlier, we would not have the movies we have today without the leaps Welles and his crew made with “Citizen Kane” 80 years ago.

However, the techniques Welles’ christened in the film have been put to use by other directors for decades now, and while the work of men like Welles, Toland, Wise, Hermann, and Mankiewicz are benchmarks that can and should still be admired, to modern filmgoers “Citizen Kane” is to a degree like your second trip to Sea World.

Watching a killer whale, a seal, or a dolphin jump through a hoop the first time is pretty amazing, but experience it for the second or third time, and the law of diminishing returns goes into overdrive.

To truly understand the greatness of “Citizen Kane,” you have to be familiar with the limitations of the movies that came before it because so many filmmakers have borrowed from Welles’ masterpiece over the years that today it might not seem quite as special as it once did.