Nouveau Hollywood and Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino

This is great.  I saw the TV commercial yesterday during halftime, and how can one not love anything with Clint Eastwood in it?  I met him once, briefly, while he graciously signed an autograph for me in Telluride, Colorado.  Looking into his 60-year-old face was like looking into the face of Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and a select group of “faces” that transcend reality.  They’re faces that fuse fiction with non-fiction, reality with fantasy.

Woody Allen played out this phenomenon with his 1985 fantasy, The Purple Rose of Cairo.  Seeing a symbol of art just step out of the screen (as in Allen’s film) and then stand two-three feet from your face is a jolt.  I saw James Stewart and June Allyson closeup once at a revival viewing of the “old Hollywood,” 1954 entertainment The Glenn Miller Story, but for me, even seeing both of them together at the same time did not create the odd rush that I felt when looking into the face of “the man with no name.” 

Ford Motor Company taking on Chevy is humorous.  Eastwood and Chrysler (now owned by the Italian company, Fiat) taking on the partisanship bickering and disunity in America that has hindered manufacturing growth has more sincerity to it (partisanship and disunity has encouraged a post-apocalyptic feel to America), although the fact that the Italian company Fiat received the previous American taxpayer bailout money for Chrysler has a curious odor to it.

One of my favorite Eastwood films in which he acted was his most recent (and reportedly his last as an actor), from 2008, Gran Torino.  Eastwood portrayed a retired auto worker from Detroit.  His mint condition Gran Torino in the film was a Ford.  The movie is arguably the most mesmerizing, honest, raw to the bone and heartbreaking of all his films, perhaps even a synthesis of all the characters he ever portrayed over his almost sixty-year career.  It was snubbed at that year’s Oscars for being blatantly politically-incorrect.  It just shows how incredibly more political the “new Hollywood” has become when Clint Eastwood, of all iconic actor-directors, is flipped the “old familiar gesture.” 

Anymore, they rarely make an entertainment for the sake of entertainment.  They make entertainments with agendas.  Film stars, in too many cases, become not just what I would call “ambassadors of distraction” but moreso “ambassors of partisan agendas.”  This is not to say that films in the past did not have agendas nor that films today are not entertaining.  In the past, Hollywood consisted of large studios with studio moguls.  Individuals had agendas but not the industry as a whole.  Following the death of the studio era, Hollywood, in my view, began to function more like a unified political action group (pac).  Industry money, I believe, now dictates what films are made or not made.  Actors and directors are expected to either support those agendas, keep their mouths shut if they don’t or not receive union work from their agents.  Hollywood films have become, in this sense, swords instead of plowshares.  Independent filmmaking, which secures much of its funding through the festival circuit (Cannes, Sundance, . . .), is just as much if not more politically motivated.

Filmmaking has come a long way from the days when people paid a dime not so much to see a movie as to escape the outdoor heat and sit inside an air-conditioned theatre.  Film has become an art form.  It allows moviegoers to enter into archetypal stories that mirror dramas and sadnesses in their own lives, coming out of the chaos in the end having purged their emotions–catharsis.  Films have become psychologically valuable.  This is aside from the fact that great filmmakers are just as valuable to society as are sculptors, painters, authors, architects…  They take the “clay” of chaos and create order, which is there always afterward to inspire us in our own steps toward order.  Shakespeare’s plots, which have served Hollywood well, relied largely on the process of untangling the characters from the chaos of life.  Humanity is order in the midst of chaos.  Society is order in the midst of chaos.  Shakespeare understood.

This was exactly the message of Eastwood’s Gran Torino.  America once produced awesome technology, like the Gran Torino.  Now, Detroit (and America increasingly as a whole) appears to have decayed, to have ceased to progress from partisan bickering, to have lost hope for a future.  Now, “artists” of order, like the aging builder (from Polish ancestry) of magnificent American machines that Eastwood portrayed in the film, are being muscled out of neighborhoods as “men with no names.”  In the end, order comes from the grassroots up as Eastwood’s character (who fought for America in the Korean War) ultimately showed us by getting the job done on his own and outside of a rotting, top-down bureaucratic system (like that which has in real life allowed Detroit to decompose)–or of a political action group.  A wisened Eastwood, who over his career has used more than a fair share of “swords” (guns of every caliber in his case), chooses instead the concept of the “plowshare” at the conclusion of this film, planting himself, in a sense, to grow within the lives of the other characters–a “gran finale” as well to his amazing acting career.  –SB

Real News From The Blaze

US Ford Tells Chevy to Pull This Apocalyptic Super Bowl Ad

Posted on February 6, 2012 at 10:45am by Christopher Santarelli

Ford Asks Chevy to Take Down Super Bowl Ad

While Clint Eastwood‘s halftime speech seems to be the Super Bowl ad that everyone’s talking about,  [ ] Chevy’s end of the world commercial has been getting good feedback as well.

From everyone except Ford that is, who seems to be the odd man out in this year’s Super Bowl commercial wars.

If you haven’t seen it yet, Chevy’s ad plays on the Mayan-predicted apocalypse that many fear will occur this year.  Over the smooth voice of Barry Manilow singing “Looks Like We Made It,” the ad shows a Chevy Silverado driven by a man with dog emerging from the rubble of a post-apocalyptic city.  At the commercial’s climax, the man greets other chevy drivers eating Twinkies at a meet-up where he asks “Where’s Dave?”

“Dave drove a Ford,” says a saddened fellow Chevy driver:

Ford did not find the ad funny, and is voicing their opinion on the matter.

Jalopnik reports that Ford had sent letters to NBC and Chevy parent company GM after seeing the ad before last night’s game, asking them to pull the commercial from the broadcast.

No dice.

“We stand by our claims in the commercial, that the Silverado is the most dependable, longest-lasting full-size pickup on the road,” GM Global Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick said in a press release.  “We can wait until the world ends, and if we need to, we will apologize.  In the meantime, people who are really worried about the Mayan calendar coming true should buy a Silverado right away.”

Ford Trucks head Spokesperson responded in a statement to Jalopnik:

“The issue with the ad is that ‘Dave’ doesn‘t survive because he’s driving a Ford. They cite R.L. Polk data on longevity — not durability. If you look at R.L. Polk’s data on durability — the same data I just gave you — there are more Ford trucks on the road with more than 250,000 miles.”

“We‘ve made our point and we’ll always defend our products.”

“But this type of a request happens from time-to-time, and now we’ll just let our legal team handle it.”

It will be interesting to see how much the Super Bowl commercial costs Chevy if Ford carries through with a successful lawsuit.

Versatile Blogger Award

I’m new to blogging and apologize, Elsie, for this late response.  I just figured it all out.  Lots for me still to learn about this blogging experience.

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you for nominating me :) !

Here are seven random facts about me:

1.  I’ve seen Bob Dylan 10 times in concert.

2.  At a film festival in Telluride, about twenty years ago, I saw Clint Eastwood go into a Port-a-John and then come out a while later.  I then hiked down the mountain to Telluride with him (along with a hundred or so others).

3.  I wrote a screenplay adaptation of a true story about Bat Masterson which was to be filmed by director Earl Bellamy (assistant director to George Cukor on “From Here To Eternity” and the original “A Star Is Born.”  Bellamy died suddenly while the money was being arranged for the production.  The project sort of died with Earl.  Talking to him over the phone so many times was one of the most incredible “happenings” in my life.  He told me that the famous beach scene in “From Here To Eternity” with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr was handled tastefully, but still powerfully, and that movies nowadays show way too much skin and action than they used too.  I tend to agree.

4.  I was born in California, raised in the Panhandle of Texas, worked at a coal mine in Wyoming for eight months and have lived in Colorado since then.

5.  I’m a fan of Formula One, Indy and The Dakar.  I saw British driver Dan Wheldon win his fifth of six Indy races in 2005, which established his reputation.  He died tragically in a horrible, heartbreaking, flaming crash involving numerous cars just last year in Vegas–the last race of that season.  I still get choked up when the video images of the crash come back into my memory.

6.  I play guitar and write songs.  I still own an Ovation electric/acoustic that I bought with my summer earnings in 1973.  I was fresh out of high school and worked for a grain elevator in Texas during the wheat harvest.  My guitar’s name is “Jordan” after a character in “The Great Gatsby.”

7.  I have a current urge to visit Tvedestrand, Norway, which is close to Boroy Island, where Richard Wagner was stranded once.  While stranded there, he came up with the idea for his opera “The Flying Dutchman,” the story of which I love and relate to.  I actually wouldn’t mind just hiding out there for at least a handful of months to radically change my surroundings, my culture, my world.  Breaking patterns cold turkey can be a good thing.

My nominees are:

(Since I’m relatively new to blogging, there are a handful of sites I visit regularly, one in particular that is an “island” for me, in a sense.  Blogging is really cool in how it allows you to visit other cultures.  It is very much a global community kind of experience.  Teilhard de Chardin wrote of his idea of a noosphere, which is a sphere of mind, or of thought.  The web is a noosphere, similar to a geosphere, a biosphere, the atmosphere.  Blogging is certainly a noosphere, but more.  It unites common minds and common spirits, common joys and common sorrows, common “positive politics.”  I’m rambling, but what I mean to say is that the sites I know the best have received numerous awards, numerous times already, but since they have visited me so much in the short month I’ve been online, I will nominate them anyway, in no particular order.)

The rules are as follows:

1.  Post a picture of the award.

2.  Thank the award giver.

3.  Mention 7 random facts about yourself.

4.  Nominate 5 other bloggers and let them know.

Take care, all!

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