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‘Million Dollar’ Interludes

'Million Dollar' Interludes

This is the big, crazy homestretch of the programming. We announce in exactly one week, so I’m in a haze of submissions at the very last minute, especially with some of the Sundance features now moving on to their next festival (in many cases, SXSW).

So this weekend I took two big breaks (besides basketball, but that just goes without saying). Saturday night, I went to see Latin hip-hop/worldbeat band Ozomatli at the Paramount Theater. I hadn’t seen them since a show at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC in May, and they killed. Absolutely killed. They killed again in Austin.

My second musical interlude was a little less conventionally musical. I went to Million Dollar Baby, finally after weeks and weeks of anticipation. Man, what a piece of work. It’s extraordinary. And truly a piece of music. Nevermind that Clint Eastwood actually is a jazz pianist. Okay, well, I guess pay it some mind, because that plays into my whole impression of the film.

Eastwood creates a texture with the writing and his actors that plays out like Coltrane, or more appropriately, Monk. If you really want to take it a step further, you can draw comparisons between boxing and jazz (the solos, the exchanges, the rhythms). For now, though, it’s worth just keeping an eye and ear on what plays on the surface of the screen.

There is no way the hype of Million Dollar Baby can spoil the payoff. You become enveloped by the way Eastwood tells this story that, in so many ways, you forget you’re even watching a film. To think, I met screenwriter Paul Haggis in Toronto when he premiered his directorial bow, Crash, and I had no clue he was about to rip open the big screen with a tender and triumphant screenplay. It’s probably for the best, because I would have wanted to talk his ear off about such a great piece of work.

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