Clint Eastwood’s ‘Cry Macho’ Is ‘a Shrunken Dirty Harry,’ Says Paul Schrader

"Has an important American director made a film as bad as 'Cry Macho' since Howard Hawks' 'Man's Favorite Spot'?" Schrader said on his popular Facebook page.
Paul Schrader poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'The Card Counter' during the 78th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Thursday, Sep, 2, 2021. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
Paul Schrader
Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP

Paul Schrader’s Facebook page remains a reliable source of entertainment, insight, and shock value for cinephiles. In advance of his new film “The Card Counter,” released September 10, Schrader said distributor Focus Features asked him to pull back from his often-unfiltered posts. Well, the writer/director is now out of Facebook jail and he’s as uncensored as ever.

Case in point: The “First Reformed” director used the platform to take down Clint Eastwood’s new western “Cry Macho,” now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max. Critics haven’t been delighted by the 91-year-old filmmaker’s latest film, but they’ve been relatively kind; the 75-year-old Schrader wasn’t having it.

“I can appreciate the inclination to give Clint Eastwood a pass but has an important American director made a film as bad as ‘Cry Macho’ since Howard Hawks’ ‘Man’s Favorite Spot’?” Schrader said on his Facebook page.

“It fails in every area: screenwriting, lighting, locations, sets, props, wardrobe and casting. When, early on, Eastwood employs an under the car shot of a boot hitting the ground I thought, ‘Great, he’s going to riff on the stylizations of macho westerns’ — but that was the last interesting composition in the film.”

He continued, “Sure, Clint is given a few cliché ridden passages about the futility of machismo but these only have value because a shrunken ‘Dirty Harry’ is giving voice to them. These character insights had value thirty years ago. It was like listening to a criminal apologize to the family of his victims in hopes that the judge will cut him a lesser sentence.”

Schrader is still riding high off strong reviews for “The Card Counter,” which stars Oscar Isaac as a war veteran-turned-high-stakes gambler as he reconciles his complicity in the American torture system.

IndieWire’s review of “Cry Macho” was far kinder than Schrader’s, with David Ehrlich writing, “Cry Macho” “finds that some of [Eastwood’s] oldest motifs have only gotten better with age. Striking as it is to see how far Eastwood has sunken into his bones since ‘The Mule’ — or to feel how little muscle he’s flexing behind the camera even when compared to his work on 2019’s ‘Richard Jewell’ —  this dusty little fable tells a story that mines a gentle power from its self-evident weakness, and it only works as well as it does because it makes you worry if Eastwood may have waited too long to tell it.”

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