Clint Eastwood's CHANGELING follows closely in the footsteps of his earlier Oscar winner, MYSTIC RIVER. Both films in fact centre on a missing child a...
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Review of "Changeling (DVD)"
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As from next year ten films will be up for the Oscar on the night and not the normal five, the Academy reverting to its pre-war criteria. This is not to give five extra films the chance to win the big prizes but a commercial exercise that allows 'Oscar nominated' to be printed on twice as many posters or dust-covers, bumping sales and so more films like the Changeling benefiting. Although this didn't win much its nomination seemed to evolve from Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolies involvement, rather that it being a great movie, the only reason it did good box-office. If it had neither the director nor star in question, but still the same movie, it would have disappeared quicker than a young British player at Wimbledon.Films like this are so meticulous at targeting the big awards with their releases dates and hyperbole publicity that it feels cynical enough and not in the spirit of the thing to put off the rent and certainly not go see it at the cinema to make up your own mind how good it is, Atonement and The English Patient the type of movie that falls into that bracket. There's not a hair out of place for the pristine Jolie and period locations here and so you just want to put your hands through the screen and ruffle it up some its that visually perfect and sterile. It's a fine performance by Jolie (although she's going for the Oscar big time in it in very scene) and an interesting true story to tell, but without that redemption of perfunctory upbeat Hollywood ending this type of film really needs to send the audience home content Changeling just doesn't have that touch of movie magic, that early word-of-mouth that drives these epics just not there and so it didn't achieve its Oscar goals. They bring it out just before the big awards ceremonies because of that risk. The people that go see Angelina Jolie films don't want to go home sad and flat. Eastwood must have ignored his test audience comments on the ending.
Collagen lips Jolie (they very noticeable in the movie and so oddly out of place) returns to previous theme's here, back in the nut house in hamming it up territory, her bizarre Best Actress Oscar win for 'Girl Interrupted' up there with Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny for the worst ever Oscars, two gongs purely about boosting the profile of some very average actresses rather than rewarding great performances. If Hollywood is going back to its cynical days to promote average movies now money is tight then expect a lot more movies like this.-The Cast-
Angelina Jolie ... Christine Collins
Gattlin Griffith ... Walter Collins
Michelle Gunn ... Sandy
Frank Wood ... Ben Harris
John Malkovich ... Rev. Gustav A. Briegleb
Colm Feore ... Chief James E. Davis
Devon Conti ... Arthur Hutchins
Jeffrey Donovan ... Capt. J.J. Jones
Roger Hewlett ... Officer Bill Morelli
Its 1930`s Los Angeles and attractive single mom Christine Collins (Jolie) is a hard working telephonist in the central phone company, supervisor to a big team of girls and taking extra shifts to help bring up her son Walter all alone. But after long day she returns to an empty house, the boy disappearing between school and when the sitter left, Collins frantically searching the streets before calling the police. But just as today's cops say they are too busy to help it's the same back then and so vital time lost, the boy gone without trace.The abduction becomes news like the McCann tragedy and local politics stack pressure on the cops to find the boy, especially case detective Ben Harris (Frank Wood), the LAPD already under pressure for corruption and racketeering, local church firebrand Rev. Gustav A. Briegleb (John Malkovich) also on their case.
When they produce a kid called Walter Collins (Gattlin Griffith), Christine is summoned with the good news, the local media there to witness the event. Problem is although the kid says Christine's her mom, Christine doesn't recognise the kid as her little Walter, and is bamboozled at why the cops are saying it's him. The film then offers two scenarios, is she losing it and this is indeed her kid or are the police up to no good?As she continues to denounce the child and gather evidence to prove its not the real Walter and so embarrass the cops and so insist they keep looking for the real Walter its time for Harris to take action as the LAPD begin to stain her character, resulting in forced incarceration for her rantings. If they can prove she's mad then the case is closed and the search and the bad press is over. But what if her kid is alive and still out there, the pastor very keen to help her prove it...
-The Conclusion-The film reminds me of a great painting that you are told is something special but after a minute or so you move on to the next one, not really interested in the significance of it and so not inspired enough to make the moment memorable. The Changeling is one of those films you just don't watch again. Those old paintings are really just photographs of the time to record events and so not about the beauty so much, as are the movies, 'Changeling' that sort of deal. It's great to look at and very authentic and well crafted, Clint Eastwoods signature familiar detailed directing there and so unlikely to lack in that aspect. But what this hasn't got is that Shawshank Redemption ending that a long movie touted for Oscars desperately needs and so completing the cinema experience. Every movie needs the right ending to feed that escapism we go to the cinema for.
Its plusses are its beautiful scored and Jolie gives a very mature and enigmatic performance as the leading lady. Eastwoods cinematography is as top notch as ever as the film moves along nicely with good momentum and narrative to build your interest in the intriguing story. It didn't feel too long and sag at any point but once you begin to get that feeling its going to be open-ended in some way and so the dénouement disappointing somehow it loses that genuine Oscar movie film and becomes a Jolie\Eastwood showcase that perhaps they too felt it wasn't to be. A scene near the end where Jolies character ( the real Christine a real b*llbreaker) bets with a friend on who will win the 1935 Oscar for best actress is a subtle tongue-in-cheek nudge to that feeling that this won't quite edge it. It's a good film but yet again an over-rated film that isn't genuine Oscar stuff.= = = = = Special Features = = = = =
-Partners in Crime-Eastwood and Jolie try to tell us it's the match made in heaven but a lot of big names lobbied for her part and as this was Clint's first Universal Studios movie, his first break from Warner Brothers, he had to pick one on the Universal list.
-The common thread: how Angelina Jolie became Christine Walters-Mostly behind the scenes stuff on dresses and wardrobe, the extra bit for female fans only.
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Imdb.com scores 8.1 out of 10.0 (40,001)
RuN-TiMe 141 minutes
Any 2 films for 2 nights for £5 at Blockbusters
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Product Information : Changeling (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionClint Eastwood's CHANGELING follows closely in the footsteps of his earlier Oscar winner, MYSTIC RIVER. Both films in fact centre on a missing child and can boast a dark, minimalistic yet enthralling atmosphere. But while MYSTIC RIVER was based on a Dennis Lehane novel, CHANGELING carries a particular weight because it is inspired by a true story, and one that isn't largely known. Angelina Jolie stars as Christine Collins, a single mother working in 1928 Los Angeles, when her son goes missing. A boy is returned to her months later by the police, but she is shocked and disheartened when she realizes that the boy isn't her son. Joined by a crusading pastor (John Malkovich), Christine battles for justice against the corrupt L.A.P.D. while she continues to search for her child. Eventually her fight against the cops lands her in a mental hospital, where she is surrounded by others with a similar plight. Clint Eastwood has definitely crafted another Oscar-worthy film while Jolie gives an authentic, anguished and heart wrenching performance. The rest of the cast also gives highly refined interpretations, notably Amy Ryan as a prostitute imprisoned in the mental hospital. Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski had been best known for his work in science fiction (BABYLON FIVE) and graphic novels, but he makes an adept transition to feature drama with this film, its unusual focus on the victim and her struggle for justice, rather than on the criminal and the crime, bringing further depth to it.
Listed on Ciao since: 14/10/2008