For eleven years now I’ve had a tradition/superstition/delusion that my first review of a new year has to be a Clint Eastwood movie. And I’ve written about other Clint movies at other times of the year, so the pool of untouched marquee titles is shrinking. Let’s go through chronologically: I’ve done A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, I’m saving the other Sergio Leones for a rainy day, and I’ve done almost everything else through the ‘70s: HANG ‘EM HIGH, COOGAN’S BLUFF, WHERE EAGLES DARE, PAINT YOUR WAGON, TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA, KELLY’S HEROES, THE BEGUILED… I have not done PLAY MISTY FOR ME, but I feel like I’ll want to do that on a Valentine’s Day or something.
I’ve done DIRTY HARRY, I did JOE KIDD last year, and there are a handful after that I could still get to. But HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973) is an important one just sitting there, the second thing he ever directed, first western he directed, his movie that seems most influenced by working with Leone.
The only reason I hesitate is the same reason it kinda seems fitting as a start to 2024: I’ve seen this and it’s a dark one. I don’t want to jinx anything, I don’t want it to be representative of the type of year we have ahead, though I have a knot in my stomach every day telling me it might be. No, I want this to be an exorcism. Or at least an acknowledgment of some of the ugliness that’s out there, that we gotta get past. (read the rest of this shit…)