Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1992: Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)
When I think about Unforgiven, I simply think of an extremely well-made film. Everything is top shelf: The acting, the writing and the directing.
I know there is a critique of violence and a certain moral position taken in the movie, but that doesn’t really connect with me all that much. What really gets me here is the theme of friendship and the incredibly moving bond between the characters played by Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.
Eastwood is so adult, so patient, so restrained, that he stands out by not standing out. He’s carrying on a certain tradition of classical moviemaking, and the further we get away from it, the more of a wonder it is that a non-postmodern work like this was able to gain so much attention.
This one’s a UFO, perhaps, but also a piece of craftsmanship of the highest order. Quiet perfection—no bells or whistles needed.
What moviemakers can learn: Deconstructing old genres and films seems the most honored form of updating the past in the current era. However, paying homage to the past by simply treating a genre with classical methods and respect, like Eastwood does here, can also result in great work.
Other contenders for 1992: I still have some titles to see from this year, including Alex Cox’s Highway Patrolman and Eric Rohmer’s A Tale of Winter. From this year, I really like Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives, Arnaud Desplechin’s La sentinelle and Carl Franklin’s One False Move. I love Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant. And my closest runner-up is David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.