Tick, tick… Boom! (12A) **
With a title like macho cry, you might expect Clint Eastwood’s final film as director and star to be a treatise on masculinity. Revolving around a former rodeo star (Eastwood) on a mission to kidnap his former employer’s teenage son from an abusive mother in Mexico, the film comes across as another Gran Torino/Unforgiven-style meditation on the character of tough guy from Eastwood. But while you wouldn’t be wrong to have those expectations—inevitably, there comes a time when Eastwood’s wizened cowboy Mike gives a speech denouncing machismo as overrated—we soon learn that the “Macho” titular also refers to a rooster, a prize rooster fighter with whom Mike’s teenager, Rafo (played by Eduardo Minett) hopes to earn enough money to survive on the streets of Mexico City.
“A guy wants to name his dick ‘Macho’, that’s fine with me,” is Mike’s grizzled first response to Rafo’s extra baggage. But as Macho gradually creeps into a supporting role, Eastwood’s ironic delight in sharing screen time with a bird is reminiscent of Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can, mid-period hits in which Eastwood played a naked role. knuckle brawler who hung out with a beer-drinking orangutan named Clyde.
Which is to say, Cry Macho is a weird movie. Its shallow dialogue, thematically telegraphic script, and plot seen a million times before may give the illusion of conventionality, but there’s an unintended moment-to-moment quirkiness in the film that’s oddly compelling.
It starts with the unspecific period of time in which the film takes place. Based on a 1975 novel by N Richard Nash, it’s not contemporary (no one has a cell phone) and yet Eastwood makes very little effort to suggest a specific era beyond an early photo of a few hippie girls who look more like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood cosplayers than genuine flower children.
Then there’s Eastwood’s casting of himself. At 91, he remains an incredibly magnetic screen presence. His Mount Rushmore-worthy face and hulking Dirty Harry physique may be more skeletal and fragile than they once were, but they still bear the marks of more than half a century of movies, which leads a strange tension every time Mike finds himself. in a situation where, say, a villain could smash him to dust with a single punch or the plot forces a Mexican senorita half his age (sometimes a third of his age) to pounce on him.
No, nothing here is remotely plausible and it’s easy to imagine the real good version of this film by imagining Eastwood directing Kevin Costner in the lead (a film that would actually be a nifty update to their excellent 1993 collaboration A perfect world). And yet, despite all the obvious flaws, there’s something captivating about a movie legend with nothing left to prove, telling the story it wants to tell. At the height of his box office powers, he directed two films with a monkey co-star. Here he makes a film in which a rooster comes to his rescue. It’s Clint Eastwood. Who are we to discuss?
Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel-Miranda has been so ubiquitous lately that it’s almost surprising that Tick, tick… Boom! marks his first feature film as a director. What’s a bit more surprising is that he chose to adapt someone else’s musical rather than create something himself. Serving as the musical biopic of Rent creator Jonathan Larson (Andrew Garfield), Tick, Tick… Boom! is an adaptation of Larson’s off-off-Broadway musical of the same name, a semi-autobiographical opus charting his failed eight-year job of putting together an elaborate sci-fi musical of his own composition before he turned 30. an origin story for Rent, the groundbreaking HIV-themed rock opera that Larson never got to see, tragically and suddenly dying at age 35 of an aortic aneurysm the day before the premiere public representation of Rent.
It’s an amazing setting for a musical, especially a musical about someone whose own already heightened sense of anxiety about his escaping youth is compounded by the fact that his gay friends begin to confront their own daily mortality. Unfortunately, Miranda botches her narration, entrusting the most emotional and resonant moment in Larson’s history to the voiceover rather than finding a way to dramatize it effectively on screen.
The musical-within-a-musical structure doesn’t do it any favors either. It’s already a bit of a cheat to show how real life can be turned into art, but the way Miranda uses the device to mediate stunning tunes through the audience’s tearful responses in any given scene (or via praise from Stephen Sondheim, played here by Bradley Whitford) feels a bit undeserved and manipulative at best and repulsive at worst. Which is a shame, because elsewhere Miranda fully exploits the cinematographic possibilities of the medium.
Indeed, there’s a big scene where Jon from Garfield goes swimming and finds the lines on the bottom of the pool suddenly turning into staves of sheet music as inspiration hits and the notes of the song he struggles to compose miraculously begin to work themselves out in the right direction. order. Tick, tick… Boom! is never more alive than in these moments. Too bad there aren’t more.
Cry Macho is in theaters from November 12; Tick, tick… Boom! is on select release from November 12 and streaming on Netflix from November 19
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