Bullseyes: ① (out of 5)One of the few certainties in life is the thrill of a Clint Eastwood western. Or so you would think. You know how they go: Bounty Hunter rides into town. Townspeople scatter. Tumble weed tumbles. Bad guy swaggers out of the bar - spits, snarls, draws…and dies.
But for some reason something went awry with this western. For one thing - Clint Eastwood grew a conscience. Now why did this happen? Watching a western with a conscience is like watching a Bond movie without bullets.
“Put that cat down Blofeld or I’ll, er, graze your arm?”
“Nien Meesta Bond!”
Most of the critical acclaim for Unforgiven seems to center around the decision to make the main Cowboy character a little more ‘real’. But - who wants real? Movies are all about not being real aren’t they? Escapism! And those legendary hoodlums that Clint Eastwood has crafted over the years are memorable precisely because they do things and act in ways that ‘real’ people like us will never be cool enough to do.
In Unforgiven Eastwood’s cowboy is not only remorseful - he is also old.
The only thing worse than a real Cowboy is a real old one.
I don’t want to see Clint Eastwood getting old! Old people mutter and drool and talk to empty chairs. I want Eastwood’s cowboys to remain forever in their prime, like my parents and my pop idols. I don’t want to wonder if Clint is squinting because of his cataracts. I don’t want him to hop a pony out of town.
“How many bullets was it punk?” he might ask, in an age updated remake of his other famous genre (‘Aging Harry’...?)
“I d-don’t know”
“Yeah neither do I... Alzheimer’s is a bitch”
After watching Unforgiven I felt that I had to get the Clint Eastwood legend back. So I watched The Man With No Name trilogy back to back until all memories of an ailing Eastwood dissolved - like cigar spit in the desert sand…