nOvaSlimmer has some wise words about the state of hip-hop:
Arrogance in Hip-Hop isn’t new but it’s only worthwhile when it’s accompanied by humor, intelligence, vocabulary and talent….
Most of them don’t have an actual story to tell. They wanna be rich and famous, period. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I happen to have at least a sliver of respect for someone that goes “I just wanna make you dance and have fun” as opposed to someone that makes the same style of music and suddenly becomes Confucius when discussing it. They have it backwards. Story should proceed music all the time, not the other way around.
On the point about progression, I’m also at odds with how they interpret it. Progress to them has nothing to do with artist evolution; it simply means deferring to the white mainstream by having GaGa on your record and gaining more exposure, which potentially means more sales. Again, there’s nothing wrong with branching out and appealing to a wider audience and experimenting with Pop sounds, but don’t call it progress. Don’t say you’re doing something different when everyone else is doing the same thing.
I don’t have a ton to add to this. I would disagree, at least a bit with the sentiments in the last paragraph. Infiltrating popular music may not be progress for hip-hop, it may even be a devolution. But in a larger context, I tend to think it’s progress for popular music, in terms of how it influences the role of verses, production, etc. To paraphrase Tony Kusher, the world only spins forward. Rappers will be citizens.
Commenter David points out this New York Times piece from Mamet on why he wrote race that I missed. I think it’s revealing, particularly this graf:
I have never spent much time thinking about the themes of my plays, as, I have noticed, when an audience begins to talk about the play’s theme, it means the plot was no good. But my current play does have a theme, and that theme is race and the lies we tell each other on the subject.
I pointed out in my original post that individual lines worked much better than the play’s structure, and that the show might have been much better as a play about lawyers. Maybe Race would have been a better play if Mamet hadn’t suddenly decided to focus on theme, particularly one where his thoughts seem poorly-developed.
In the annals of Lady Gaga’s ridiculous lyrics, it takes a lot for a line to stand out. But the command to “take a bite of my bad girl meat” is up there. That said, I like the visceral nature of “Teeth” a lot.
The line “show me your teeth” gets at something I think most songs about sex tend to avoid, whether consciously or unawares. Most folks, when they sing about sex, talk about emotions, control, performance. I love Big Boi, and “I’ll Call Before I Come” is a wonderful song, and “I’m a gentleman, I’m a satisfy your soul / And then I’m a get mine” is a great, and important sentiment, but it’s also kind of besides the everloving point. And just because folks aren’t being gentlemanly, or for that matter ladylike, that doesn’t mean they’re any more in tune with the truth of sex. I do love the bravado and filthiness of Lil’ Kim’s “Magic Stick,” but it works essentially because it’s self-consciously silly. “Hungry Like the Wolf” is marred by both awkward syntax, and the fact that it’s telling rather than showing, a cardinal sin in poetry and prose of all forms. “Teeth” is about losing your damn mind during sex. And I kind of think that’s as it should be.
I went to New York this weekend, among other reasons, to see David Mamet’s latest play, Race, with a bunch of the folks from PostBourgie, and, as it turns out, Racialicious‘s Latoya Peterson, who it was such a pleasure to meet. It was good the company was delightful, because the play certainly was not.
I’m not sure why Mamet decided to write Race. It’s an exceedingly awkward work, about a law firm composed of a white partner, a black partner, and a young black female associate, who take the case of a wealthy white man accused of raping a young black woman. Some of the play, particularly the brief sections that focus on the dynamics of a firm, have a fine snap to them. There is a wonderful, and obscene line about a preacher who will want to testify in the case.
But none of the racial dynamics work whatsoever. First, it’s patently implausible that a black and a white lawyer who have worked together for years would never have taken a case that challenged their racial dynamic before. It also seems basically implausible that they would have developed a totally color-blind relationship. Second, a lot of the dialogue around race is awfully stilted. People declare that white people have nothing to tell black people about race, which is just sort of silly. A white lawyer, when accused of making an affirmative action hire declares that he hired his associate because she has “talent, and that’s exceedingly fucking rare.” Mamet’s argument seems to be that white people bend over backwards for black people, both out of guilt and fear of being called racist, but that they expect those black people to betray them, and still intend to be wounded when they and their generosity is betrayed. And that all black people hate all white people. And that all white people perpetually want to confess and be shriven of their sins towards black people. It’s an ugly and astonishingly unsubtle framework for a racial conversaion, especially one where white ethnicity is dancing around the edges, but is never really addressed. The play’s ideas just felt enormously stale to me, and yet the predominantly white audience ate it up, just as the Times review said they would, as if they felt like they’d been confronted with hard truths. As if attending the play was an act of contrition.
It didn’t help that Kerry Washington’s character was both poorly written and exceedingly shrilly performed. James Spader was frequently quite good, I thought. Some of the staging was very interesting: the law office where the events take place is split-level, and Spader’s character is the only one who stays on the lowest level the entire time: the rest of the cast ascends and descends throughout the show. But I don’t particularly understand why Mamet didn’t just write a play about lawyers, which it seems like he had a knack for. Did he need a race play in his body of work? Did he feel guilty about something?
Seriously, this may be the hip-hop verse closest to my own experience EVER: “I went to museums and the planetarium / I was the toughest motherfucker at the aquarium / Walking down Queens Boulevard, scared of the traffic-a / Only 8-year-old sneaking into “Out of Africa” / Hung out with my Aunt Joyce, she was like my art coach / We would go see foreign movies starring Juliette Binoche / We saw “My Left Foot” starring Daniel Day-Lewis / To me, my Aunt Joyce was such an influential Jewess.”
I’m not playing. My own influential Jewess, my grandmother, passed away many years ago. But she read me great books, and took me to my first symphony, a performance of “The Planets,” conducted by a man in a space suit. No joke. She deserves much of the credit for my interest in culture, much more, certainly, than I give her here.
So, the New York Post has a piece on the creation of Lady Gaga as a personality and a marketing ploy that implies that the artifice, and the fact that she doesn’t talk about it much, is some how “darker” than speculation about her sexual orientation or gender identity. This strikes me as incredibly stupid. First, who expects their pop stars to actually be genuine? This is an industry where Britney Spears got breast implants before she finished puberty, for god’s sake. Where Pink recorded a listenable but laughable urban album before winning the right to do pop-rock. Everything‘s fake. Nobody sells 35 million downloads on the power of spontaneity and genuineness.
And I’d much rather someone create a persona of a creative, abstracted, empowered freak and get rich off it than be forced into an intense sexualization of themselves before they’re ready for it. I mean, Lady Gaga may be mercenary in setting up a charity for homeless queer youth (and let’s hope, please G-d, that it doesn’t have Yele’s financial problems), maybe it’s all a part of her image, but I don’t care. I’ll take this kind of fake over all the others out there.
Update: I’m aware the videos aren’t showing up in the post. SO sorry. Working on a network that blocks YouTube for bandwidth reasons, but I’ll plug the code back in when I can.
I’m headed up to New York this morning, so blogging might be a little bit light. But as an apology, here’s a mini YouTube mixtape:
1. “New York Groove,” Ace Frehley (cover): Sure, Sinatra’s great. But I don’t actually love “New York, New York.” Maybe that’s just because I’m a crazed Red Sox fan, and I have to represent, but the whole “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” line always felt a little…obvious to me. “New York Groove” nails how New York vibes, without having to spell it out.
2. “Celebrity Skin,” Hole: I was talking to PostBourgie’s Shani yesterday about how much we worry about Amy Winehouse. But to a certain extent, Amy’s just a stand-in for my concerns about Courtney Love. It’s almost shocking how good she looks in this video, from that initally falling shot to the intense green of her eyes when they snap open after the chandelier smashes to the floor. But I digress. I know this song, and the album in general, are about Hollywood, but I think the sentiments here apply equally well to New York.
3. “American Boy,” Estelle: As much as I get annoyed by the dominance of New York and LA in our popular culture, the cross-country and trans-Atlantic buoyancy of this track is wonderful, and got Estelle at least some of the attention she so richly deserves over here. Besides, “Can we get away this weekend? Take me to Broadway? / Let’s go shopping, maybe then we’ll go to a cafe / Let’s go on the subway, take me to your hood / I’ve never been to Brooklyn and I’d like to see what’s good” is basically my agenda for the weekend. Although I have been to Brooklyn.
4. “Above the Clouds,” Amber: Oh, Lord. I’m about to reveal myself as one of those women. But I really do associate this song with New York because of how it’s used at the end of the third season finale of Sex and the City. Before you all vote to exile me, here’s why I like that scene. All the women are single or in wierd states of emotional ambiguity. Samantha’s throwing a barbeque for the trans prostitutes in her neighborhood, and everyone’s hanging out. It’s one of the last moments before the show became an icon and a commodity, and I like that everyone’s happiness feels really earned. Plus, it’s just a great song. The Jonathan Peters radio edit is best, but it’s hard to find, so live with this.
5. “Miami 2017,” Billy Joel: I’ve always thought the idea that New York is An Idea That Will Endure Beyond All Things is a little absurd, even after September 11. There are too many New Yorks, and they evolve too rapidly, for there to be a coherent Unified Theory of New York. But I think “Miami 2017″ is a song that embraces that concept even as it recognizes its absurdity. Mythos is good, as long as it’s self-aware.
6. “Open All Night,” Bruce Springsteen & The Sessions Band: A lot of the people who glamorize New York are the ones who come to it from elsewhere, and a lot of the fun of glamorizing it is talking about it on the trip there and back again. There is just an absurd amount of joy and energy in this song, which you can hear better if you buy the Live in Dublin album, which really you ought to have done at some point anyway. This sounds like the best trip to New York and back again, ever. Also, anyone who argues with “Hey, ho, rock ‘n’ roll / Deliver me from nowhere” as a lyric should be institutionalized.
How is it that Public Enemies isn’t winning, much less nominated, for any of the big end-of-the-year honors? It’s a somber film, certainly, but gorgeous, and quite well acted. Marion Cotillard can’t handle her accent, but that doesn’t prevent her from being alternately fragile, defiant, and movingly brutalized. Johnny Depp is predictably marvelous; the tension in his face is perfect for the role. There’s genuine chemistry between them. His “I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars…and you” is a condensed and predatory version of Crash Davis’s classic declaration in Bull Durham (NSFW unless you’ve got headphones in). Christian Bale’s humorlessness works as Melvin Purvis; he’s an arrogant, incompetent bastard with a strain of decency. Stephen Lang makes up for his absurd overacting in Avatar with an excellent, understated performance as a very different kind of man who carries a gun. And the movie just looks beautiful: a digital shot of fog rising off the ground in the night as two men flee the gunfight at Little Bohemia is the best-looking thing I’ve seen on screen all year, Pandora and the afterlife be damned. Despite my initial skepticism, it really was one of the best movies, top to bottom, I saw all year. The way it’s being overlooked is a grievous error.
Is a lot easier when he makes movies that look this patently goofy:
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m having a harder and harder time taking Pierce Brosnan remotely seriously, something that makes me a little sad since it makes it harder to enjoy the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (Also, IMdB tells me there’s a sequel to this in the works for 2012. I have no idea what the plot would be, but I sure hope Rene Russo ends up with Dennis Leary. I have a thing for tough cops who make speeches.). I do vaguely wish this movie looked better, since the premise, about a ghost writer for a politician who begins to suspect his subject may have committed a murder, is juicy, and probably the thing that would make a fine BBC serial. I know a lot of folks think Kim Cattrall is kind of ridiculous, but I love her, and would like to see her have a career beyond Sex and the City, which she deserves not to get typecast by. And Tony Gilroy has instilled me with an incredibly intense love of Tom Wilkinson. In fact, I think Tony Gilroy should have made this movie. It’d be guaranteed to be absurdly well-written. And I could watch it with a clear conscience.
So, I know The Red Baron’s been out in Germany since 2008:
But isn’t its American release a great opportunity for some Snoopy jokes?
I’ll also just be interested to see if a movie about aerial combat in World War I can be made to be genuinely horrifying instead of just a chance for nifty special effects. Any German readers out there seen this? I do think piloting a biplane in combat would be something only folks with specific personalities would be able to do, especially given the role of chemical warfare in the first World War, and so this could be an interesting character study of risktakers coming to terms with the impact of their actions. Not that I expect that the movie will actually go in that direction. And now that I’m thinking about World War I, I’m kind of surprised no one’s made a major movie about the Christmas Truce.
So, a couple of months back, commenter agauntpanda was nice enough to buy me Cordelia’s Honor, the omnibus edition of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, about a talented spaceship captain named Cordelia Naismith who ends up married to a high-ranking military officer of her planet’s rival world, and is caught in that new world’s Imperial succession struggle as a result. The two novels in the volume are good, propulsive fun. Cordelia herself is both badass and romantic: think Princess Leia with a reasonably high tolerance for ordering people’s head’s chopped off, and without the wiffling around about whether to hook up with Han. I tore through the book fairly quickly and found myself reading it even though I’m incredibly busy right now. And it also helped me clarify a couple of things that I like most in my science fiction that I want to discuss a bit here.
First, I tend to resonate most to science fiction where a clear connection to Earth remains. There are exceptions, of course, most notably Star Wars and the Foundation novels, which I’m about to revisit. But a universe has to be exceptionally well-conceptualized for me to connect to it as well as I do to speculative fiction about Earth’s future. I think one of the reasons I love books like Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead as well as Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy is that they’re intimately connected to concerns about Earth that I understand. The Bugger wars are terrifying, as are the moral conditions of Ender’s victory in Earth’s service. The overpopulation of Earth that sparks the mission to Mars in Robinson’s books, and the class divides that begin to tear the planet apart aren’t actually that speculative. Even something like the early sequences of this summer’s Star Trek reboot that show Kirk on Earth isn’t explicitly about a social message, but offer the tantalizing image of a familiar place, in this case Iowa farm fields, transformed into something strange and wonderful, like a spaceport. Earth’s a distant fragment in Cordelia’s Honor, and I found that I missed it. Because there are two societies that Bujold is trying to develop in a story that’s extremely plot- and character-driven, I found it hard to get immersed in either. Unlike Star Wars, which takes us from the crime-ridden Cantina in Mos Eisley to the heart of the Imperial high command, we don’t get to see both Beta and Barrayar top-to-bottom, and I wanted more of them.
Second, I like science fiction best when it shows how technological advances have shifted the shape and practices of society. One of the best things in Ender’s Game is the novel’s description of how information dissemination on the internet makes the fragile political entities of Earth vulnerable to manipulation. The differing ways a cure for aging affects Mars and Earth forms one of the central conflicts of the Mars trilogy. The technology that is most important in Cordelia’s Honor is an artificial womb, and while it’s implied that being freed from nine months of pregnancy frees women on Cordelia’s planet to take up a wider range of roles in society, the chauvinism on her husband’s planet clearly runs far beyond pregnancy. I’d have been interested in a discussion of the moral implications of the weapons their respective planets use in combat. Cordelia’s countrymen invent, and deploy, a weapon that turns an enemy’s attack against itself, while her husband’s soldiers use personal combat devices that fry a victim’s nervous system. They’re vicious in different ways, and on different scales, but after some early discussion, any further discussion of those implications, and what they say about the society where the weapons originate, are largely shelved.
But despite these preferences, Cordelia’s Honor is a lot of fun, and frequently quite sweet despite the occasional attempted rape, beheading, and coup. I like romances between equals, and science fiction increasingly feels to me like one of the few places that’s genuinely possible–there reliance on female insecurity in most romantic comedies is disturbing to me as a symbol of inequality. If the future gives us love stories, that’s one form of progress I’ll embrace wholeheartedly.
To be fair, it’s art theft–and jewel theft–and not Damien Hirst shout-outs, but it stuck out to me. And the song is processed cheese, but totally justifiable and enjoyable, especially if one is living on a solid diet of Bob Dylan, at least for a day.
So, a little bit ago, a couple of my friends were having a debate on Twitter about whether or not it would be an honor to be the woman who inspired Blood on the Tracks. Obviously, the person to ask that question would be Sara Dylan, who probably doesn’t want to talk about it very much. But the question was a good opportunity to revisit the album, which is one I tend to binge on and then leave alone for a while. I tend to find “Simple Twist of Fate,” despite the fact that it’s one of the most obviously fictionalized narratives on the album, almost too unbearably sad to listen to:
Bad timing between two people who are trying hard to love each other is one of the sadder things I know. And I have a hard time feeling like it would be an honor seeing yourself in “Idiot Wind,” which is one of those I’m-having-a-bad-moment-and-need-to-be-vicious songs:
But I could see being honored by “You’re a Big Girl Now,” which is both one of the most emotionally honest and articulate songs on the album, at least to me:
The song has a rare clarity, I think, it’s absolutely full of the pain that it’s about, there is no remove here, but there’s an impressive depth of perception. “Love is simple / To quote a phrase / I’m learning it these days” is a wonderfully humble lyric. ”I’m going out of my mind / With a pain that stops and starts / Like a corkscrew to my heart / Ever since we’ve been apart” captures the fever-like sensation of heartbreak perfectly, even if it is a little melodramatic.
And while I can’t really imagine being the inspiration for “Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts,” I have to mention it because the song is the source of my obsession with lyrical inflection. If you listen to the whole thing, it’ll become clear that Dylan has very pronounced patterns in each verse:
Until, that is, he hits the line “Lily had already taken all of the dye out of her hair.” It’s a great line in and of itself, and a strong advancement of the narrative. But, unless I’m crazy, it’s also the only real exception to Dylan’s pronunciation patterns, and it’s a lovely one.
But then, none of you need me to tell you that Blood on the Tracks is a great album. I’m still not sure I’d want to go through the emotional experiences that produced it (I feel like Bob Dylan would be exceptionally difficult to end a relationship with), but I’m glad someone did, for our collective benefit.
In Cleveland, the fight revolves around several thousand dollars a year in salary for each player. But implicit is a debate over the worth of exquisitely trained musical artists in our society and how much we are now willing to pay for them.
That’s of course one of the issues at stake in stories about funding for the arts across a wide variety of disciplines, from the broad decline of the news business, to the closing of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis. But there are other questions here, too. If salaries rapidly decline in music and art, as they have in journalism, symphonies, galleries, etc., risk losing out on a huge amount of talent. For example, journalism has become such a costly career to pursue, full of unpaid internships, low starting salaries, and fellowships that require the people who take them to have independent sources of income. Those financial entry barriers are not inconsequential, and they limit the kind of people who can decide they want to pursue a career in journalism. Given the costs of training and equipment to go into classical music, if salaries fall, the entry barriers are even steeper.
But I think one thing that stood out substantially to me about this story was the fact that the Orchestra musicians feel comfortable potentially striking at all. Given the high social capital culture jobs have, and the terrible state of the economy, I’m impressed that the musicians aren’t worried about getting fired or disciplined, or losing public approval for striking. I guess when the profession’s in peril, someone’s got to take a stand.
Because somehow I missed that Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls is engaged to Neil Gaiman (which makes SO MUCH SPOOKY SENSE) until she took off a lot of her clothes on the red carpet and the Fug Girls pointed it out (NSFW, duh.). I’m not a Dresden Dolls devotee or anything (though Amanda did go to my high school, and they have been generous enough to play benefits for our incredible drama department), but “The Jeep Song” is up there on my list of favorite breakup songs of all time, is is in many ways the silly encapsulation of how I felt about much of ninth through twelfth grade:
All of this nostalgia aside, though, I actually didn’t think Dana Goodyear’s profile of Neil Gaiman in this week’s New Yorker was very good. Maybe it’s just that Gaiman isn’t someone I wanted to know more about, and I didn’t know that until I read the piece, but I felt like it was a fairly surface look at a complicated artist, unlike Goodyear’s brilliant deep dive on James Cameron. I love Sandman so much it’s difficult for me to talk about, the emotions just run too deep. It’s impossible that the person who created it could be as moving as the work itself.
I highly, highly recommend Lynda Obst’s piece for The Atlantic about how the Golden Globes represent the future of our entertainment:
Increasingly, the TV and movie industries are blurring together. Their executives are commutative: the head of Disney Channel just took over Walt Disney studios, where many studio heads have been grown; Grey Gardens, which won best TV movie, stars movie veterans Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore; Laura Linney is starring in a new cable TV series – a venue where women movie stars over 40 now go to thrive; moviepeople are making TV; and TV stars, like Blake Lively of CW’s Gossip Girl, are making movies. Lively, in fact, is the movie business’s newest “it” girl, and a client of CAA party host Josh Lieberman. In some weird way, the Globes anticipated this mish-mash. On a meta level—as its first ever host, the Globes chose a foreign import who starred in a British TV series that was remade here (becoming a TV hit with a movie star who became a TV star), who then started making American movies before he ever made a British one… (Got all that?) Very hybrid.
And if you look at the bottom of the piece, her bio indicates Obst is going to be writing and blogging for The Atlantic‘s new culture channel. This is great news. She’s funny, and smart.
But I’m sure it’s fairly abundantly clear from the title of this post that I didn’t. It may be nostalgia from enjoying the book much more than I expected, and as a result, feeling more protective of the property than I intended. But I think Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation has a couple of significant flaws.
First, while the movie strips down the book quite a bit, both in terms of plot and characterization, it still manages to feel slow. As my friend and regular movie-going buddy Alex Remington pointed out, after the murder is committed, a large part of the movie happens in slow-motion and repeated takes. Some of the images we see over and over again are lovely, but they’re limpid, the movie takes a lot of time. It’s too bad, because the opening section of the movie has tremendous momentum, particularly in two scenes, one where the main character races across her back yard to take clandestine pictures of a neighbor girl, another in which she commandeers her parents’ cherry-red Mustang to driver her brother, who has swallowed a twig and has an obstructed airway, to the hospital. There’s a later scene in which her sister runs away from a man who wants to kill her that has tremendous energy as well. Jackson hasn’t lost his ability to shoot great horror or exhilirating action, he just chooses not to for most of the movie, and it’s frustrating.
Second, a lot of the effects manage to look precious, rather than awe-inspiring. Again, I don’t doubt Jackson’s ability to awe, but at least the way I interpreted Alice Sebold’s vision of heaven was a little more…rigorous than the candy-coated paradise Jackson occasionally conjures up for Susie to spend her afterlife in. And Jackson shifts some of the events in the novel around in a way that I think actually drains the dramatic tension from them. I won’t say more in the name of spoilers, but Sebold manages to have a larger scope than Jackson does, and also tell a story more economically than he does at least in this outing.
That’s not to say there aren’t some things in the movie that are worth watching. Susan Sarandon’s turn as the boozy grandmother who holds Susie’s family together after her death is marvelous. Full of life and a little usefully placed bile, she careens into the haunted house where Susie’s family is marooned, drinking, overfilling the washing machine and dancing in the bubbles, lighting things in frying pans on fire, and believing Buckley, Susie’s younger brother, when he insists she’s still present in some way. There’s a gorgeous shot of her shaking back her hair and lighting a cigarette through hospital glass that made me extremely happy. Saoirse Ronan is lovely, if saddled with some narration that’s tough to swallow, much less say. And Rose McIver, who plays Susie’s younger sister Lindsey, is marvelous, alternately distracted, grieving, furious, terrified, and passionate. I hope she gets more work out of this, because she richly deserves it.
In the end, I wonder if The Lovely Bones ever could have been a great movie. It’s one that people feel extremely passionate about; Jackson apparently bought the film rights to the novel with his own money rather than getting financing for it, he felt so strongly about. I know I had an extremely specific vision of many elements of the book in my head, and wept over it as I haven’t cried over a book in a long time. The movie made me cry too (but then, I’m an enormous sap), but I wasn’t captivated by it in the same way I loved the novel. A book about a personal vision of heaven may not bet translatable for the masses.
Image used under a Creative Commons license courtesy of Art Crimes.
Given my Zodiac obsession, and my general fondness for chasing down books and movies referenced in books and movies that I love, it’s a little embarrassing that I haven’t seen Dirty Harry yet. I watched it over the weekend on my Netflix binge. Neither the embrace of vigilantism, nor the “Take that, hippie!” politics of the movie age particularly well. But it’s got a number of a great shots: the opening sequence with the murder in the swimming pool, Clint Eastwood standing on top of a train trestle in a sharp suit and dark sunglasses, looking like the incarnation of vengeance. It’s too bad he never played the Devil. He’d have been marvelous in it.
Really, I think Eastwood is the only reason to watch the movie, which seems to function as an uncomfortable bridge between an earlier era of action flicks and a later one. Watching him take a bite of a hot dog, shoot up a crew of bank robbers, and then finish chewing is a marvelous couple of moments of acting. As is him shucking off his pants to save $30 after getting shot. The guy just knew his range and lived in it better than almost anyone else I know. Someone like Meryl Streep can do more, for sure, but not always as deeply or intensely. And I couldn’t watch Eastwood all the time, but there’s something invigorating about that kind of intensity, like good coffee or really cold air.