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Blood Work

Alex Grant's Review of Clint Eastwood's New Movie

'Blood Work is both casual and classic, akin to the astutely pared-down films of both Howard Hawks and Sam Fuller'.


Starring 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 hispanic woman.

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 50's.
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 and mythology.

Blood Work is playing across the USA and Canda this month of August.

© Alex Grant August 10th 2002


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