It's no secret to movie lovers that Times critic Manohla Dargis is a huge Clint Eastwood fan. She loved Mystic River; she loved Million Dollar Baby; she totally loved his World War II double-feature. So when we read her Cannes Journal this morning about Eastwood's new film, Changeling — whose title was later changed to The Exchange — we assumed she would be raving about it, and it actually took us a few paragraphs to realize she didn't like it at all. She faults the production design and the screenplay, but saves most of her criticism for the casting of Angelina Jolie, who, she notes, "like Joan Crawford," "seems capable now of only playing variations on herself." The not-really-a-review-but-still-a-review must be a real disappointment to Universal, which was probably counting on a Dargis rave to propel the movie into awards contention.
She's sounded so cranky about her Cannes experience so far, in fact, that Universal probably wishes she'd just skipped it, the way she (reportedly!) skipped James Gray's Two Lovers.
"I'm not going to wait an hour for fucking James Gray," a "major U.S. film critic" snapped before storming away from a screening, and Defamer fingers the critic in question as Dargis. [Update: Dargis tells Defamer it wasn't her. Hmm... maybe it was Jay Sherman!] [Update to the update! It was Lisa Schwarzbaum.] A.O. Scott saw it, though, and — despite the "groans and sneers" he heard from other critics — kinda liked it! In fact, Scott seems to be having a fine time at Cannes. "It occurred to me," he writes, "that I had not seen an English-language film in four days. Not a long time, but in those 96 hours I had watched 12 movies. What’s more, of the 20 or so I had seen since the festival started last Wednesday, only one had come from the United States." As summer movie season approaches, going to Cannes must be a nice treat for American movie critics, a little taste of a few decent movies before they have to come home and review a bunch of crap. Speaking as a writer who just got a press invitation to You Don't Mess With the Zohan, we sure wish we were in Cannes right now. At least we could be watching the Macaulay Culkin sex movie!