"CGI effects are great in pictures like Avatar and District 9, but I still love telling a story," said Clint Eastwood at Wednesday night's LACMA event to promote the release of the largest box set ever, Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years, from 1968's Where Eagles Dare and 1971's Dirty Harry and its sequels to his biggest hit Every Which Way But Loose and Pale Rider, Bird, Tight Rope, Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima and Invictus.
During Eastwood biographer Richard Schickel's film The Eastwood Factor and in the Q & A to follow, Eastwood kept coming back to responding to stories that he sees how to tell. One reason why Oscar-winner Unforgiven will likely remain his last western is that "I don't know what else I'd have to say," he said. At evening's end, noting that he was coming on 60 years in the business (Eastwood is 79), he told Schickel, "That may be a good hang-up time. I like doing films and having a family life. Every time I think I'll hang it up for a while I just happen to get a really good script. Just when I think it's safe to go back in the water..."
With Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon nominated for Oscars for Invictus, Eastwood is already back at work on his next, which also stars Damon, the supernatural thriller Hereafter.
Four Warner Bros. studio chiefs--the co-chairmen who worked with Eastwood for 20 years, Bob Daly and Terry Semel, and the ten-year team who took over, CEO Barry Meyer and COO Alan Horn--came together to support Eastwood at the Bing auditorium. "This is Warners," said Meyer. "We're all friends."
Also on hand was Freeman (who is even taller than Eastwood) and narrates The Eastwood Factor, which screened for a packed house including Eastwood's long-time agent Lenny Hirshan, his editor Joel Cox, screenwriter Robert Towne, film historian Jeanine Basinger, LAT critic Ken Turan, producers Mace Neufeld and Billy Gerber and AFI's Bob Gazzale. Warners' Horn admitted to being disappointed that more African-Americans didn't support Invictus, which performed better overseas. And he confirmed that any involvement from Batman director Chris Nolan with a Superman reboot is not yet negotiated.
Semel, who has been LACMA co-chairman for more than four months after being on the museum board for two years, used the podium to promise more strong film programming, which has been under threat. "I am determined to make film and filmmakers a more integral part of this museum," he said. "We will continue to introduce programs that celebrate the art of film and give it its proper place at LACMA." Semel could make an enormous difference with Hollywood support for the museum film program. After the Q & A, Eastwood praised LACMA and promised to reach into his pocket too, as Warners has done. On his way to a courtyard champagne reception, Semel said the museum hopes to attract more filmmaker events like this tied to DVD releases. That should work for everyone.