on October 5, 2003
Okay, let's get two sore points out of the way: Yes, Clint is really a little too old for the leading role, especially in pairing him with such young ladies; and yes, James Woods goes way over top in his cartoonish role as Alan, the editor in chief. But, aside from that TRUE CRIME is an astounding work for the director Eastwood. The real stars of the picture, however, are Isaiah Washington and Lisa Gay Hamilton. As the doomed but innocent Frank Beecham, Washington controls his performance, making him both heartbreakingly real. No overacting here. He uses his face, his body, his voice to convey the hopelessness and fear of his impending execution for a crime he did commit. Hamilton as his wife, Bonnie, has a very demanding role, and her grip on this character is unbelievably subtle and intense. Some real tear-jerking scenes in this one. Hard to believe Washington and Hamilton were overlooked at Oscar time. Denis Leary is exceptionally good as Eastwood's boss who finds out his wife is sleeping with Eastwood. Leary could have taken this over the top, but he again controls the anguish, jealousy (both professionally and personally), and doesn't resort to familiar tactics. Bernard Hill as the warden, Michael Jeter as a key witness, and Michael McKean as a really scuzzy minister also do well.
Also, the lovely song voiced by Diana Krall, should have made it to the Oscar nominations too! Her voice reflects the hopelessness and despair of the film's script. The writers should also be commended for its faithfulness to Andrew Klavin's excellent novel.
A very good film and worth seeing.
IT MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK ABOUT THE DEATH PENALTY.
True Crime(released March/99)is a film crafted by a master.Eastwood populates/bases his world(s)with characters we can identify with,true to life folks with the everyday hassles and the worries that life throws at the general masses.The central character played here by a 68 year old Eastwood,is just such a man.Eastwood is ably backed by a great supporting cast;Eastwood has had the good fortune and wherewithal to surround himself with talented folks throughout his long and distinguished career.Isaiah Washington is on hand as the criminal wrongfully convicted and on death row,James Wood is the head of the newspaper where he works and Denis Leary is Eastwood's immediate boss.
The plot finds Eastwood as a womanizing,drinking newspaperman who has been shipped from New York to Oakland,California.Some claim he hounded the NYC mayor who got him ousted.We later learn it was his womanizing that actually did the trick,so to speak.As the film opens he sits beside a 23 year fellow reporter and makes a few propositions towards her which she nicely rejects and leaves.On the way home she is killed in a car accident at,like the Jan and Dean song,Dead Man's Curve.Eastwood however arrives to work late the next morning,after having slept with the wife of his immediate boss Leary.
He is given the bad news and is told to take her place in finishing up a story she had been given regarding a death row inmate sentenced to die that very night.Right off the bat Eastwood starts asking questions about the murder the man on death row committed,but his editors don't want a holy crusade,just an interest piece.Off he goes,but he has to take his young daughter to the zoo first.It's a whirlwind tour,literally,and Eastwood's running while his daughter is in a stroller,ends up with a spill onto the pavement.Eastwood and daughter arrive back home,but find the wife in a terrible mood after she sees what has happened.The door is slammed and Eastwood is off to interview a prime witness in the original case.
The interview doesn't go as the interviewee quite expects,as Eastwood just can't get around his story.They part but things are bugging him about this case and the clock is ticking.He goes to the deceased reporters home to get info there,but little is gleaned.However he does discover there was someone else at the scene who fled,just before the one who was accused entered the scene.He tracks down that person through his grandmother,only to find he has been deceased three years.Eastwood cannot get his editors,nor the authorities to run with his suspicions.Later in the evening Eastwood sits at home with his wife,who gives him back their wedding ring,sobbing all the while.Eastwood returns to his local watering hole and while sitting there spins his wife's ring.At that moment he gets a flash that a locket the deceased person wore,a gift from her father,was not there at the crime scene.He recalls the grandmother clutching what appears to be the same locket when Eastwood last talked with her.
Eastwood dashes to grandmothers house and before long both are on the road to the Governors mansion to get a stay of execution.Will they make it in time,as the first vile of solution has already entered the prisoners body and the second is starting? The scene switches to Christmas time and Eastwood is in a gift store buying some presents and chatting up the sales rep(a cameo by Lucy Liu!).Outside he stops and when he looks up there is a family of three walking away from another store.The film ends as Diana Krall's haunting song"Should I Care" kicks in.
What a wonderfully crafted piece of film making this was.Everything from the editing to the camera work,to the writing to the acting,all falls seamlessly into focus,bit by bit.Eastwood I find can be like a chef,throwing in ingredients,pieces at a time,stirring for awhile,then throwing in some more and stirring again.This film,like many of his other top end ones,are layered;each character,with their own back story,adding to the over all texture of what we see on screen.Until in the end everything falls neatly into place,and you have partaken of something rich and full of taste.True Crime is that kind of movie and more.It is serious,has pathos,drama,then at a moments notice he throws in a bit of humour to lighten the visual load,then it is back to the core again.
This hasn't anything to do with True Crime but I have followed Mr Eastwood's career since the late 60s.I had seen his work on TV and his spaghetti westerns,but Hang em High and Coogan's Bluff really caught my attention back then,as if to say"here's someone special,keep an eye on this guy".After that I've been in his corner ever since and watching him grow as an actor and film maker year by year.I think there isn't an Eastwood film I have not seen;some I like more than others,but the ones I was never too fond of,I still could respect for the thinking behind them.He put out stuff the public loved and the critics,for the most part,reviled.He has finally gotten the respect of critics,he so deserves,but it took him years to get it.However,I don't know Mr Eastwood personally,but if he and I were sitting here yakking on about Hollywood and his career,I suspect that he might say the only respect he ever wanted was that of the publics.And That,he never lost.Thank you Mr Eastwood for your long lasting contribution to MY world of entertainment,and may there be many more!
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:77:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include two featurettes,the trailer and the musical video for Krall's "Why Should I Care?".A classy touch to a classy film.Mr Eastwood has always been savvy when it comes to jazz,and Krall's career was just starting to break at this time when he included this video in his film.It was a great boost for her,to be sure.
All in all a highly recommended Eastwood jaunt into the realm of the executing of inmates.Eastwood takes neither position,if there indeed is one,but instead let's you be the judge.
on September 12, 2012
At the movie's end there is a song something to the effect of why should i care? The eastwood character, and here once again we are reviewing from thr retrospective collection of 35 films just released, is out to rescue victims a perennial theme in these films, and makes himself vulnerable in this case losing wife,child,job, money and being homeless...and all due to the bureacracy and its authoritarian mindset, if that's all it is. A person, a charismatic christian in the black community, family man, is wrongfully convicted of committing a crime,and the profile is way off, making the whole situation absurd. This film is like the James Cagney films of old, and gives audiences a chance to experience this kind of film which we dont see much of in theaters any more, and often what do we see? He is thought to be on a crusade, for the truth. He is fond of kids and brings them to the zoo, like the prisoner, among the law and order of the bureaucracy. It was all done we are told to impress some girls, and we are told no one much believes it, but we're is the real killers? The priest comes in, he too being a person of authority,to extract a confession like an inquisitor not even asking his guilt...only Eastwood's character asks if he's guilty but he already knows the answer. To the city workers its joked that there's trouble with their wives, as a kind of joke, not to be taken seriously, but they react like there's some kind of problem, a tit for tat problem, since he doesnt play along with the boys in the office. They dont see him? The prisoner like the Eastwood character is disposed towards children, they have the saintly disposition, and also the prisoner sais the baby jesus. Eastwood in an interview with the prisoner denies any religion, he wants the prisoner to know he wants to find truth his interest is him, he doesnt want him to think that religious conviction stirs him, and the prisoner's faith makes it possible for him to deal with the distress. They all throughout the film say words like mary, mother theresa why is this going on in our city, god this or that, christ, similar to the middle ages where these phrases were not indicative of a curse, but of a cry for help for relief, from these city mandarins, and the whole thing the d.a. tells us seems cockamaney' ..but the d.a. wont help...Eastwood wants to get her hitchcock like and haunnt her like the boys in the office, they think this is his latest lost cause, and as usual in clint's film, as in all these films, they are people of little means in the community, who care ..not the authorities. He blasts out this seems like some crucifixion. In the investigation no one is looking for the facts...and he ends up trying to help all losing all, which tells us victims very often betray their benefactors, which is why helping others is its own reward, to help someone for something seems almost barter like, and in this case he's lost all. A poignant message and the film ends like the ancient story of the 'widow's mite' of his giving his last $20 to Santa..better than his wife getting it. Betrayal...and solitude...this story was not the success of its predecessors but is very slickly done, with a clear message, and also takes a stab at feminism and its concerns, and a story like this dealing with human nature as it does will never age or wither...like too many characters in this story. There is much insight in these films about modern society and sociology, and religion, and the nature of those who perform guardian like roles...and those disposed towards children which really is the focal point of understanding these enlightened characters and how they really become suffering servants...
on April 4, 2004
Clint Eastwood's 1999 release, True Crime, was based on an Andrew Klavan novel and filmed in a style that reminds me of movies made in the late 70's or 80's. As I watched the first few minutes, my first thought was that poor Clint was to old to portray the part of Steve Everett and this movie had been a waste of money. At first, it actually kind of "creeped me out" watching him come on to the beautiful young women in the movie, but you cannot always judge the movie by your first impressions. Steve Everett is a cheating husband, a horrible father, a recovering alcoholic, and a womanizer, but he is, first and foremost, a newspaper reporter with a "nose" for the truth. His boss, Bob Findley (Denis Leary), assigns him to cover an execution as a human-interest story. Bob has a hard time working with Steve, knowing that Steve has been sleeping with his wife, and struggles to maintain a professional office relationship. Steve has a hunch that Frank Beechum (Isaiah Washington), a black man convicted of the murder of a pregnant white girl, is innocent, but only has one day to come up with evidence before the execution takes place as scheduled. The plot to this movie is predictable and has been done in other movies many times, but Clint Eastwood's skill as a director turns this otherwise "dog" into a suspenseful thrill ride. The performances of Isaiah Washington and Lisa Gay Hamilton are precise and moving. James Woods is hilarious and Francesca Fisher Eastwood, Clint Eastwood's daughter in real life, is adorable. Michael Jeter, Michael McKean, Bernard Hill, and Diane Venora also give great performances and help make True Crime a very good movie that is definitely worth 127 minutes of your time. Oh, and about my first impressions, I was wrong, Clint is not too old for the part or the beautiful young women. Clint is still number one.
on December 31, 2002
Clint Eastwood plays reporter Steve Everett,who puts his job on the line and his family on hold to prove the innocence of an unjustly condemned man. He was given the story as a human interest piece,a story that was to depict the last few hours in the life of Frank Beechum(Isaiah Washington).He is at odds with his editor and is warned not to turn the story into a "Dick Tracey investigation".
Steve is alot of things. He's an alcoholic(on the wagon),a womanizer, and lacks in the qualities needed to be a good father and husband to his family. But one thing he does have, is his reporter's instinct. He has "his nose" for the truth. He senses something fishy about the case which has already gone through numerous appeals,and with only hours to the execution, starts digging around, and takes us on a thrilling ride as he tries, up to the very last second, to save Frank from the death penalty.
There is another storyline that runs parallel to the main focus of the film. The two families each going through their own personal anguishes. Frank's family, his wife and little girl, going through the agonizing last few hours with him, and Steve's wife and child must deal with his indiscretions and inattention to his own daughter.The wives played by Lisa Gay Hamilton and Diane Venora are expert at showing us the emotional states they are in. The little girls played by Penny Bae Bridges and Francesca Fisher-Eastwood(his real life daughter) are also terrific at making emotional demands on their Daddies at a time of crisis.
Eastwood's expertise behind the camera, as well as his powerful on screen presence combined with a terrific cast and crew to bring us a thrilling and moving story.Many wonderful performances add to it. James Woods, Dennis Leary and Bernard Hill to start with. Frances Fisher(the film is a bit of a family affair)plays the D.A., Michael Jeeter and Michael Mckean also give fine performances, and to my delight Christine Ebersole makes an appearance as well as the legendary William Windom(check behind the bar for him).Music by Lennie Niehaus and photography by Jack Green are the icing on the cake.
The DVD(WB) looks and sound great.It is presented in the original theatrical widescreen(matted), the picture is perfect and distingishable even in the darker scenes.Colors are pleasing and vibrant, and the sound excellent in the Dolby5.1 Surround.
There are a number of Special Features, including Behind The scenes Documentaries, a video by Diana Krall, and a compelling story told by a real reporter of a real life experience similar to the story(although this film was not based on that).See tech info for complete list of extras.
This is Clint's 21st film as a director. He has a way of reaching an audience that touches the humanness in us that only gets better with each film...enjoy...Laurie
on July 13, 2002
Clint Eastwood proves that he's a legend in his own mind with this predicatble, BORING and slightly sickening tale. One- do you know how many people are actually pardoned as they are being executed? What a stupid premise. The entire movie is based on Clint finding clues to a long ago murder that others have missed. Ok, I know the police aren't perfect, but come on. I also found the scene where he's wrapped in a towel gross. I LOVE watching old Clint Eastwood movies. The guy was definitely a fox, but when he made this movie he was as old as my grandfather AND HE LOOKED LIKE HIM!!! I have no problem with aging actors, heck, Clint may have been ok if he hadn't tried so hard to be "sexy". Maybe the message was that this guy is totally past his prime, but I was so put off by this movie, the stupid premise, the aging star, that I did not like it. If you are a serious moviegoer, give this one a pass. The only redeemable part in the movie was James Woods- his horrible treatment of Clint's character was the only thing I found myself rooting for...
on April 22, 2002
Once i said I would watch any movie directed by Clint Eastwood, no matter genre, cast or plot. I maintain it. Eastwood has reached a point of his career where he has no longer to prove that he is good as his job. His critical success with "Unforgiven" and his still-alive popularity have converted him in one of the greatest film directors of all-time and -probably- one of the last living classics.
The important thing in this movie it is not the so-called plot. It is deliberately unbelievable and stereotypical: a convict waiting for his execution and the investigation which may or may not result in stopping the execution, literaly, on the nick of time (Eastwood's character, Everett, starts investigating the very same day of the execution). This thriller plot is deliberately kept as much time as possible in a second term, while Eastwood focuses in what is the main interest of the movie, character description.
During a great deal of the movie, the plot grows in function of the characters and their psychology. The important thing is not that an investigation is on the way, but what the said investigation reveals of the characters. Of Everett it reveals that he is, more than ever, an outsider, and that the main reason of his acts are to prove that he was right and all the rest were wrong, Of Everett's superiors, it reveals their mean -though they are conveniently humanised- thinking, it explores the problems of the convict's family, etc, etc.
Add one of Eastwood's best directing skills -absolutely not a spare shot during the two hours of the movie-, a joyful sense of humour, wonderful performances by the whole cast, nice touches of drama and satire, sharp dialogue and one of the most thrilling climaxes I have ever seen.
I don't care if it could be more thrilling, I don't care if the plot is schematic (it is deliberate) and I don't care if Eastwood has more critically aclaimed films. If not only to watch Eastwood at work again and succeed with style, I am definitely watching this again.
on April 13, 2002
A solid, entertaining movie that was marketed as a thriller, but in truth it's a riveting, character-driven drama. Unlike most other superstars, Clint has never fallen into the trap of simplying repeating himself over and over (though I suspect there are many who wish he would.) I thought his role was great and very convincing -- if people don't think an older man can be a womanizer, think again. It's going on all the time, including to the real life Clint, who's wife is quite young and exceptionally beautiful.
All in all, Clint is an exceptional director, who always gets great performances from his actors, and this is no exception. His pacing is always meticulous, outside of the typical Hollywood thriller, reminiscent of older times when story and character was more important than special effects (and CGI) and also of European movies. This movie doesn't rank up there with his best, like Play Misty for Me, High Plains Drifter, Unforgiven, Bird, A Perfect World, etc, but still very good. Well worth watching -- a few times!
on March 22, 2002
Clint Eastwood has been a star for thirty-five years. He is also a good composer and a respected director. In 1993, he won the Oscar for Best Director for Unforgiven, which also won Best Picture. Now nearly seventy, his movies since then have reflected a more reflective, but still sure, pacing and tone. True Crime, then, is not the action-adventure picture it was merchandised as.
Eastwood plays Steve Everett, a hard-living, womanizing reporter. He used to have a great career in New York City, but he blew it. Now he works for The Oakland Tribune in California, where his job, like the rest of his life, is perilously close to coming apart. Steve is a brilliant and complex character, and Eastwood gives a fine performance. Steve is a sort of Everyman of modern American society. He has lived his life without much continuity, and his relationships have been the shallow sort typical of our times. Now his one gift, which he calls following his hunches, is beginning to fail him. His lifestyle leaves him with no one to save him.
One day another reporter is in an auto accident, and Steve is assigned to take over the story of an execution, which is to take place that night. The editor wants an interview with the condemned man for a human interest story. Steve, though, is of the old school and is always looking for a news story. After some research, his hunch is that his subject is probably innocent of the crime. Of course, there is little time for Steve to prove his theory, and this is what gives True Crimes its tension.
The condemned is Frank Beecham [Isiah Washington], who has always claimed he did not kill a college coed over a $96 debt six years before. Almost half the movie takes place inside the prison, where we see Frank's grim last hours, which include a heart-wrenching visit from his wife and young daughter. There is a parallel here because Steve is estranged -- or nearly so -- from his wife. They also have a young daughter. We see that both characters are basically good, but got into their present predicaments through past behavior. Just as no one believes Frank is innocent, Steve's wife and coworkers do not believe him when he says he can change.
There are elements in True Crime which do not ring true, although they do not ruin the movie. They make it good rather than great. Eastwood's career has been primarily built on characters who are manly loners. Handsome though he is, he's rarely been believable as a romantic lead. Age has not been as kind to him as it has to Sean Connery and Harrison Ford, and the easy with which many women fall for him in the film is hard to swallow. Also, there is a wild chase scene at the end of the picture, which is at odds with the tempo of the overall effort. It's almost as if Eastwood felt obligated to revert to his former image for the sake of his fans.
On the whole, True Crime is interesting and thought-provoking. With its sultry jazz score and its emphasis on characters, it makes for decent, but not riviting, entertainment.
on January 20, 2002
I like Clint Eastwood, and wanted to see this video even though the reviews had been lukewarm at best. However, I found myself relaxing and getting into the story although the suspense was non-existent, the story full of cliches, and the casting weak. Eastwood plays a reporter who saves a black inmate (Isiah Washington) from death row. From the beginning the inmate is portrayed in a sympathetic fashion, as is his wife (Lisa Gay Hamilton) and young daughter visit him on the day of the execution. There are a lot of interesting details about how an execution is carried out and the warden as well as the prison guards are portrayed as real human beings with internal conflicts of their own.
Eastwood was born in 1930, but this role as a womanizing reporter who beds young women should have been played by a younger man. James Woods is the newspaper editor and the two of them exchange bawdy one-liners that seem more suited to adolescents than to grown men. There are a few scenes where Eastwood takes his young daughter to the zoo. She's about 5 years old, and I remember thinking that he is much to old to play the father. However, I later found out that the little girl cast in the role actually is his real-life daughter. But real life does not equal a good movie.
In spite of these many faults I liked the movie. Why? Maybe because I always yearned to be a journalist myself. Maybe because I like Eastwood's strong presence, although I do not now nor did I ever find him sexy. Maybe, because in spite of the lack of suspense, I found the tempo and cadence of the film relaxing. There are a lot of reasons to watch a video. One is to leave the world behind for a little while and let yourself get caught up in a story. This is a story that's been told before. And will be told again. It is the story of the underdog (the reporter) whose life is a mess, and through this good deed, redeems himself and achieves reward and recognition. I recommend this film for what it is and not what the critics would like it to be.