One month after the Cannes Film Festival premiere of his 28th film as director, Changeling, and two weeks after his 78th birthday, Clint Eastwood receives another in an ongoing series of late-career honors with a nine-film American Cinematheque mini-retrospective that shines a welcome spotlight on some underrated gems from the filmmaker’s varied six-decade career. Even as an actor, Eastwood was never predictable, using a hiatus from the Rawhide TV series to star in some low-budget westerns for an Italian nobody named Sergio Leone and, in the same year (1971) that he first fired Harry Callahan’s Magnum, teaming with Dirty Harry director Don Siegel for The Beguiled, an unnerving, Civil War–era Southern Gothic about a wounded Union soldier who is rescued by the residents of a girls’ boarding school only to find himself the catalyst for a churning spiral of duplicity and desire. That film remains too little seen, as does 1973’s touching two-hander, Breezy, which charts the May-December romance between an aging divorcé (William Holden) and the spirited teenage hippie (Kay Lenz) who blows into his life. Eastwood’s third directorial effort (and the first in which he did not appear onscreen), it’s a sensitive, beautifully acted interior drama and something of a blueprint for such later triumphs as The Bridges of Madison County and Million Dollar Baby. Also included here is 1993’s A Perfect World, perhaps Eastwood’s most resonant meditation on the ambiguity of good and evil and the consequences of violence, plus the Los Angeles debut of Positif film critic Michael Henry Wilson’s insightful documentary portrait Clint Eastwood: A Life in Film, which affects a laconic, easygoing style worthy of its subject as it catches up with Eastwood during post-production on his masterful 2006 Iwo Jima diptych. (American Cinematheque at the Aero Theatre; thru Wed., June 11. www.americancinematheque.com.)
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