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At 91, Clint Eastwood Isn't Slowing Down. 'Cry Macho' Is His Latest Film

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Director and actor Clint Eastwood has a new film out - "Cry Macho." Over 50 years, Eastwood has directed more than 40 films. And here to tell us about his latest is film critic Kenneth Turan. Kenny, good morning.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTINEZ: So how is it?

TURAN: Well, you know, it's fascinating. I mean, as you can tell from the poster, it's got elements of the classic character that Eastwood has always played - the intense, tough, laconic guy that he played for Sergio Leone as The Man with No Name and, you know, also the Dirty Harry character that he played in two or three films.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DIRTY HARRY")

CLINT EASTWOOD: (As Harry) Go ahead, make my day.

TURAN: You can also tell by the image on the poster he's 91. He's old. And the character he plays, an ex-rodeo cowboy named Mike Milo, is also old. He's battered. He's a guy people tease about taking naps. You know, he's not pretending to be young. Eastwood is fully embracing the fact that he's an old guy on screen.

MARTINEZ: Yeah, old and battered. If central casting had to reach out to someone, it'd be Clint Eastwood - (laughter) right? - for that description.

TURAN: Yeah, no, absolutely, you know? And it's just an interesting story. It's a story that Eastwood had considered doing 20, 30 years ago and decided (laughter) he wasn't old enough. And it came back to him. And he plays, you know, this ex-rodeo guy who is hired by an old boss to go down to Mexico to kind of find and bring back the boss' son.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CRY MACHO")

DWIGHT YOAKAM: (As Howard Polk) My son, Rafael, he's in trouble. I want to get him out of Mexico.

EASTWOOD: (As Mike Milo) You want me go down there and kidnap him?

YOAKAM: (As Howard Polk) Please, just get him back up here.

DANIEL GRAULAU: (As Mexican Border Officer) Just you?

EASTWOOD: (As Mike Milo) Just me.

TURAN: And, you know, that's the driving force of the film.

MARTINEZ: Now, the title of the film, "Cry Macho," what does that refer to?

TURAN: Well, it refers to a couple of things. I mean, No. 1, this kid that he goes to find in Mexico, he's involved with fighting roosters. And he has his own favorite rooster. And he calls him Macho. But also, you know, there's a lot of kind of discussion in the film, especially - there's one scene in particular where the whole quality of what it means to be macho really is discussed.

You know, the kid gets really angry at Eastwood's character. He says, you used to be tough. Now you're weak. You used to be strong, macho. Now you are nothing. And the Eastwood character just says...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CRY MACHO")

EASTWOOD: (As Mike Milo) I used to be a lot of things. But I'm not now.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EASTWOOD: (As Mike Milo) You know, I'll tell you something.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EASTWOOD: (As Mike Milo) This macho thing is overrated.

TURAN: You know? - so, I mean, he plays a guy who's lived his whole life a certain way and is now kind of wondering if he made all the right choices.

MARTINEZ: Now, you spoke to Clint Eastwood about this film for a profile that ran recently in the LA Times. What was your impression?

TURAN: Well, you know, I've talked to him before over the years, and this is really the most at ease I've ever seen him. You know, he's got a good sense of himself. He's - knows he's accomplished a lot. But he's happy to keep working just because he enjoys it.

And, you know, he's also kind of thinking about the past, dealing with his own life. We talked a little bit about - you know, he's very much a child of the Depression. And he talked about remembering when he bagged groceries for 37 cents an hour. And really, almost the last thing he said to me was remembering about how he told his dad that he was dropping out of LA City College to train to be an actor at Universal.

And his father said to him, don't get too wrapped up in that. It - could be really disappointed. And Eastwood said to him, you know, I think it's worth a try. And it certainly was worth a try. I think you have to say, given what's happened, it definitely was worth a try.

MARTINEZ: The film is "Cry Macho," from director and actor Clint Eastwood. Film critic Kenneth Turan, thank you very much.

TURAN: Thank you, A.

(SOUNDBITE OF MARK MANCINA'S "LONG MONTAGE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.