Alex Grant's Review of Clint Eastwood's New Movie
Work is both casual and classic, akin to the astutely pared-down films
of both Howard Hawks and Sam Fuller'.
Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels and Wanda De Jesus.
Directed by Clint Eastwood.
At age 72 actor-director
Clint Eastwood is beginning to look (and to sound) like actor Jack Palance
as he was in the role of 'Jack Wilson', satanic gunslinger and Alan
Ladd's nemesis 50 years ago in "Shane".
Jack, formerly known as Walter Palanchiuk, owed his hoarse whisper and
taut cheekbones both to his Slavic genes and to his heroics as a bomber
tail-gunner in the Pacific Theatre of WW2. Plastic surgery necessitated
by bullet wounds to Palance's vocal chords and face made him into the
gaunt screen bane of the '50's and '60's Hollywood leading men.
Eastwood's voice and mien are merely due to genes and to old age. His
20th movie as director, "Blood Work" is typically warm, intimate
and empathetic. A crime melodrama taken from Michael Connelly's superb
novel of the same name "Blood Work". Athough the film foolishly
squanders much of the intricacy of Connelly's novel, it is a reflection,
in part, of Eastwood's own marriage in the late '90's to a much younger
The plot emphasises the plight of an ageing pro (thus also reflecting
upon Eastwood's actual real-life fate). Eastwood plays one 'Terry McCaleb,
a former F.B.I. profiler of serial murderers forced into retirement
by a heart attack. The recipient of a heart transplant, McCaleb is obliged
to come to the aid of the donor's sister, Graciella Rivers (Wanda de
Jesus) in tracking down Gloria Torres' murderer: seemingly a random,
brutal slaying at a Korean convenience store. At great personal risk
McCaleb reactivates his profiling chops.
A very laid-back thriller, "Blood Work" epitomises the dogged-journeyman
director style of Eastwood's recent "True Crime", a movie
again taken from an exceptional novel; Andrew Klavan's of the same name.
That fast, cheap and raucous movie was dismissed out-or-hand by the
usual mob of mediocre, muddle-headed p.c.critics here and in the U.S..
"Blood Work" likewise has been treated with high-minded p.c.
contempt and condescension by such phony "hard-bitten" (alleged)
critics at the Globe and Mail; the most tedious print media bores in
the known universe (and possibly everywhere else!). They had the gall,
even to dis Eastwood's late masterpiece "Space Cowboys".
The major vice of today's film critics is a total lack of respect for
and knowledge of our North American cinema's past. "Blood Work"
is both casual and classic, akin (on a modest scale) to the astutely
pared-down films of both Howard Hawks and Sam Fuller, of the 40's and
Eastwood's style is a Hollywood "invisible" (the tricks of
the trade are concealed by legerdemain) style which is exemplified by
the nighttime big city chase on foot that opens "Blood Work".
Any astute knowledgeable critic would notice this classic sequence of
non-stop mayhem. It jumpstarts the plot electrifyingly and is an homage
in part to Eastwood's earlier film "Tightrope".
Indeed much of "Blood Work" creatively recycles the imagery
of the first "Dirty Harry" movie, and of its successors in
the Eastwoodian canon of crime melodramas. Again, any critic worth his
or her salt would have noticed this sinuous replay of Eastwoodian motifs
Blood Work is playing across the USA and Canda this month of August.
© Alex Grant
August 10th 2002
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