Dispatches From The New York Film Festival: Changeling

Security was nutty this morning (bag searches and wands?) up at the Walter Reade Theater for the first American screening of Clint Eastwood’s Changeling. Based on a true story, the film is about Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single mother who returns home from work in 1928 only to discover her son has vanished. After five months, with lots of publicity, the LAPD reunites mother and son–only problem is that Christine knows the boy isn’t hers. And that’s just the beginning of the movie! The rest of it involves untangling the corruption and cover-ups of the Los Angeles Police Department. After the film (which is 2.5 hours long and flew by) 78-year-old Clint Eastwood – tall, elegant, and dry – sat for a press conference. The man looks really good – we just can’t stress that enough. And he’s funny, too! He was interested in this script (by J. Michael Straczynski) because “this was the story of a woman rather than the story of a crime.” He spoke about directing the young children in the film, praising their talent (“it took me forever to learn my own name”) and that of his leading lady Angelina, calling her one of the best-prepared actresses he’s ever worked with. Mr. Eastwood is famous for shooting quickly, and he said Ms. Jolie’s preparedness allowed him to work the way he liked; “I like to catch someone who hasn’t thought about it too much.”

Someone from the front row dared to ask Mr. Eastwood about Senator McCain and his politics (earning him a death stare from the festival director), but Mr. Eastwood remained cool. Once a Republican (he said he first joined the party so he could vote for Dwight Eisenhower), he said he has drifted toward the Libertarian party. But, back to the movies! Mr. Eastwood has yet another movie coming out this year, Gran Torino, which he stars in and which is currently in postproduction. He does all the music for these films, too. Have we mentioned that he is 78?