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Changeling 2008

A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day...

Release Date:
October 31, 2008
Duration:
141 min
Director:
Clint Eastwood ...
Cast:
Angelina Jolie, Peter Gerety, John Malkovich, John H. Tobin, Peter Breitmayer, Michael Sutherland, Geoffrey Pierson, John Harrington Bland, Lily Knight, Dale Dickey, Gregg Binkley, Michael Kelly, Debra Christofferson, Colm Feore, Kitty Kreidler, Gattlin Griffith, Michelle Gunn, Jan Devereaux, Erica Grant, Antonia Bennett, Kerri Randles, Frank Wood, Morgan Eastwood, Madison Hodges, Devon Conti, Ric Sarabia, J.P. Bumstead, Jeffrey Donovan, Russell Edge, Stephen W. Alvarez, Pete Rockwell, Pamela Dunlap, Roger Hewlett, Jim Cantafio, Maria J. Rockwell, Wendy Worthington, Riki Lindhome, Dawn Flood, Jason Butler Harner, Eddie Alderson, Sterling Wolfe, Michael McCafferty, Amy Ryan, David Goldman, Denis O'Hare, Anthony De Marco, Joshua Logan Moore, Joe Kaprielian, Muriel Minot, Kevin Glikmann, Drew Richards, Hope Shapiro, Caleb Campbell, Jeff Cockey, Zach Mills, Kelly Lynn Warren, Colby French, Scott Leva, Clint Ward, Reed Birney, Michael Dempsey, Phil Van Tee, Jim Nieb, Jeffrey Hutchinson, Brian Prescott, Ryan Cutrona, Mary Stein, William Charlton, Cooper Thornton, E.J. Callahan, Asher Axe, Devon Gearhart, Dalton Stumbo, Austin Mensch, Andre Alexsen, Denise Bradley, Pete Brown, Gary Buckner, Jason Ciok, Danton Dabar, Jim Dalton, Dominick Dunne, Kerry Hennessy, Lauren Ingmire, Christopher Karl Johnson, Jw, Jonathan Lane, Kimberly Langley, Jen Lilley, Michael Lovern, Darin Mangan, Lauren Suzanne Martin, Michael Molthen, David Pearl, Scott Pierce, Jon Eric Price, Jarrod W. Robbins, Gabriel Miller, Gregg Stotesbery, Jennifer Swirtz, Billy Unger, George F. Watson, Rob Watt, January Welsh, Marissa Welsh, Jacob White, Araksi Willebrand, Michael Saglimbeni, Callie Thompson, Michela Rietdijk, Doby Daenger, Patrizia Milano, Navah Raphael, Richard Hansen, Richard King ...
Genres:
Drama, History, Mystery, Thriller ...
Country:
USA

Your rating: 0

Solar rating: 8

14

Imdb rating: 7.8

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Awesome movie !!!
Cant rate this with anything less than a 8.5/10 !!
Actually it's name is Anonymous, because the account may no longer be active......
In the ads, commercials, and trailers for Changeling, a period drama/thriller set in the late 1920s, Angelina Jolie and Clint Eastwood (Letters From Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Unforgiven, Bird, Pale Rider, The Outlaw Josey Wales) get mentioned the most. Jolie, of course, has the lead role in Changeling while Eastwood, an A-list action and director, has become associated with "prestige" Hollywood projects (i.e., Oscar bait). The one name you won't hear much about (outside of the contractually required name on the poster or trailer credits) is screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski.

Straczynski is best known as the creator, executive producer, and principal writer on Babylon 5, the well-regarded science fiction series that aired in syndication over five years. For Straczynski, Changeling was a labor of love, a script written on spec (i.e., on its own, without a buyer in place). Imagine Entertainment originally purchased Changeling for Ron Howard to direct (he passed due to a scheduling conflict). Eastwood stepped in later and, by his own admission, shot Straczynski's script practically verbatim. That leaves Straczynski in the rare position of being the auteur responsible for Changeling. As stirring as that might be for would-be screenwriters, Changeling suffers from several, related problems, all of them traceable to Straczynski's script: drama and conflict are often minimized to accommodate the facts behind Changeling.

At least initially, Changeling falls into the "social problem" sub-genre that once defined prestige Hollywood films. The focus is on Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single, working mother, who, one fateful day in March of 1928, loses her son, Walter (Gattlin Griffith). Forced to work at extra shift at the telephone company, she leaves Walter alone on a Saturday. Christine trusts the relative safety of her Los Angeles neighborhood and her neighbors to look in on Walter while she works. When she returns home, however, Walter is gone and nowhere to be found. The police refuse to begin an immediate search for Walter and force Christine to wait 24 hours before filing a missing persons report.

When weeks pass without news, a local pastor and radio personality, Rev. Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich), helps to spread the word about Christine and Walter. The head of the Missing Persons Bureau, Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan), steps in to lead the investigation. Five months later, Jones informs Christine that Walter's been found in Illinois. The boy (Devon Conti) they bring back, however, isn't Walter. With the press looking on, Jones convinces Christine to take the boy home with her. When she refuses to accept the boy as Walter, Jones begins a campaign to discredit her, first sending a psychologist to evaluate her mental state and later, when she goes public with her claims, institutionalizing her in a mental hospital.

But Christine's battle against the ruthless Powers-That-Be, as institutionalized in the LAPD and the mental hospital, covers only part of Changeling's running time. As Christine's predicament worsens, a possible culprit for Walter's disappearance emerges, Gordon Northcott (Jason Butler Harner), the owner of a chicken ranch in the sparsely populated town of Wineville (now Mira Loma). The two storylines eventually merge into a murder trial and a commission hearing held simultaneously in the LA courthouse. Northcutt's responsibility for Walter's disappearance, however, is one among several questions that Eastwood and, presumably, Straczynski leave unanswered.

While Straczynski deserve considerable credit for following historical events, with minor exceptions, it came at a price: the usual resolutions moviegoers expect from traditional filmmaking. Unfortunately, that open-endedness makes Changeling less than satisfying, dramatically or emotionally. Changeling includes several "endings," to the commission hearing, to Northcutt's trial, and ultimately, to Christine's quest for her son or information about her son, all or most of which scrupulously follows the historical record Straczynski amassed before writing Changeling. Tension, suspense, and momentum also give in to the relative ambiguity of the historical record.

While Straczynski's screenwriting choices may be open to debate, Eastwood's sure-handed direction isn't, nor is the period-perfect production design, the sun-drenched cinematography, or, most important of all, Angelina Jolie's performance as Christine Collins. Undoubtedly talented, Jolie has often given overly mannered performances. That couldn't be further from the truth here. Jolie gives a naturalistic, grounded, understated performance, focusing on the small gestures and inflections in her voice to convey Collins' emotional vulnerability and often unbearable suffering. Award-seeking as it may be, it may just be the best performance of Jolie's career by any objective and subjective measurement.
Angelina Jolie, just like in 'A Mighty Heart' and 'Girl, Interrupted, gives an Oscar-worthy performance. She doesn't have this hollywoodized touch. She is human and imperfect, they don't make it a Hollywood-studio-glamour freak. She's amazing on this role. And Mr. Clint-perfect-Eastwood at his 78 he's still like a fresh tomato. Probably, the most unforgettable performance of the 2008 (Jolie) and one of the best pictures of the year. This is a movie that shouldn't be missed. Great Movie. An instant classic. This is highly recommended.


Changeling
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Universal Pictures/140mins

1920's Los Angeles never looked so good in Clint Eastwood's sincere and impressive but ultimately long-winded drama about corruption in the prohibition era LAPD. It is occasionally a faulty, overly sympathetic drama, but its interspersed with enough elements to give you the idea you're watching some sort of a masterpiece.

Jolie plays Christine Collins, an innocent woman subjected to the harsh realities of corruption first-hand after her son dissappears only to be returned - or rather replaced - by the LAPD. Without hesitation, the first hour shows us the cruelties of Ms. Collins' journey down unjustified humility.

Where Changeling offers a hint of greatness is in a seemingly obtuse investigation of an outlying country ranch, containing an illegal Canadian minor. Detective Lester Ybarra (Michael Kelly) is the man who discovers a deeper meaning to the visit and therefore incidentally unravels one of Los Angeles' biggest crimes which will both expose the LAPD's drastic shortcomings and alabi for Ms. Collins' allegedly "odd" behavior.

The primary weakness here is in the film's final act, which is deliberate, phony, and unnecessary.

Angelina Jolie is comendable here, but in a role that's paper thin - a grieving mother with a handful of Oscar-reel clips that amount to almost nothing. It's no stretch to say that she gives the best possible performance here for the role, but there in lies the problem.

Long-time Eastwood collaborater Tom Stern applies deft and magnificent cinematography here, giving a lush mixture of black and white on top of dull colors - similarly to the way he shot both Eastwood's World War II epics, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima. Only Jolie's bold red lipstick stands out. It's a film that looks like a million bucks.

Overall, I was quite surprised with how good Changeling really was - so much so that I'm especially dissapointed with how it nearly collapses under itself in the final act. It's not a maudlin, crocodile-tear film like I thought it would be. It's mature, well-crafted and well-intended with just enough flaws to keep it from where it's striving towards.
It's great stories.
Angelina Jolie is what makes this film work. End of story
I thought the Changeling was a excellent movie. I thought Angelina Jolie was
so believeable. Clint has done it again! What a fabulous story.
October 24, 2008

Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" deliberately evokes the look and feel of a 1930s Hollywood melodrama. As such, the language is old-fashioned, the narrative is straightforward, and the characters project values typical of the era. Even at the head of the picture is the initial Universal Pictures logo.

Eastwood's strategy makes sense since the movie takes place in 1928 and spans seven years to a time when such a picture might have actually been released, albeit a much tamer version. Every effort is made by the filmmakers to convince us we're in the late '20s--from the sets and props to the characters' naive behavior.

But given the breadth and detail of the production, I'm wondering why Eastwood didn't choose to shoot the movie in black and white. After all, if he's going to envision the plot and characters in black and white terms, why not shoot it that way?

It comes as a surprise to call "Changeling" Eastwood's most patronizing work to date. The director typically shows a knack for subtlety and complexity with his stories, but here he comes across as blatant and unimaginative. Throughout the film, Eastwood overtly designates the good vs. evil, the saints vs. sinners, the heroes vs. villains. There's no gray area, which is usually the part that gets us thinking.

This is a shame since Eastwood has such a compelling story on his hands. On March 10, 1928, in a leafy suburb of Los Angeles, Christine Collins (Angelina Jolie), a single mother, is called into work on a Saturday afternoon (she's a supervisor at the Pacific Telephone Company). Being the 1920s and all, Christine sees no problem in leaving her son, Walter (Gattlin Griffith), home alone. But hours later, when she returns, Walter is missing.

Christine calls the police, but they tell her they require at least 24 hours go by before responding to a missing child report because "99 times out of a 100, the child returns home on his own." By this point, the movie, based on a true story, has already established its agenda of bringing to light the corruption and unjust practices of the 1920s L.A.P.D. Reverend Gustav Briegleb (John Malkovich) preaches on the radio about the city's tainted law enforcement and dedicates his life to exposing their wrongdoings.

Weeks go by and the police tell Christine they've found Walter in DeKalb, Illinois. But when Christine meets him at the train station, she's devastated to find out the boy is not her son. Captain J.J. Jones (Jeffrey Donovan) says she's mistaken and asks Christine to take the boy home on a "trial basis." Jones will do anything to avoid public embarrassment and any further evidence of his force's ineptitude. For the sake of the boy, Christine agrees and almost entertains the notion he could be Walter, at least until she finds out he's circumcised and three inches shorter in height. Christine thinks if she continues to pretend it's her son, the police will stop looking for the real Walter. Therefore, she puts up a fight.

The L.A.P.D., headed by Chief James E. Davis (Colm Feore), is fearful of bad publicity and instructs the captain to hire a doctor (Peter Gerety) to explain why the boy has changed physically. The doctor suggests the boy's traumatic experience could have caused his spine to shrink and that whoever kidnapped him was sick enough to circumcise him.

But Christine continues to insist it's not Walter, after which the captain accuses her of being a derelict mother scheming to hand over her maternal responsibility to the state. Therefore, he has her locked up in the psychopathic ward of the Los Angeles County Mental Hospital, where she meets other women who've suffered the same persecution when they've stood up to the police.

In a parallel plot, an L.A. detective (Michael Kelly) is called out to investigate a Canadian boy living illegally in Riverside County. He comes upon a nearly deserted ranch where the boy (Eddie Alderson) has been living with his older cousin, Gordon Northcott (Jason Butler Harner). When he's about to be deported, the boy admits he and Northcott have committed unspeakable crimes against little boys, one of whom may be the real Walter Collins. The movie sees this remaining plot, based on the real-life Wineville Chicken Coop Murders, all the way through and you get the sense two different movies could have been made out of all this material.

Eastwood has a grand and epic story on his hands, that's for sure, but he undermines it by failing to show any of the characters as anything but what the plot requires them to be. He seems too intent on keeping the audience satisfied, to make us feel justice has been served, that he sacrifices the complexity of the situations.

The L.A.P.D., along with the doctors and staff from the psychopathic ward, are placed at the extreme end of evil. They're never viewed as anything else and end up being one-dimensional. Eastwood also fails to be adventurous in the way he plays out his story. It's extremely literal and safe. He needed to experiement with his narrative more.

I also felt Eastwood exploited Angelina Jolie, especially in the scene where a nurse inspects her genitals. It's not what the nurse is doing that's offensive, but the way Eastwood films it, which is obviously meant to make us shudder and grow angry. The problem is, it's too obvious. We get it, these people are not nice. Why pound that into us?

On the other end of the spectrum, Christine Collins and the movie's other "good guys" are painted in too positive a light, so much that it borders on self-righteousness. We get it: Christine is a victim and a hero. She's brave and angelic. How many times must the movie establish her as the moral superior? It's also incredulous to think Christine was single-handedly responsible for the release of all the wrongly accused women in the psychopathic ward, and that she'd be able to accompany her lawyer, S.S. Hahn (Geoffrey Pierson), when the women are set free. I realize "Code 12" was real, but the movie makes it seem like it played out incredibly smooth, just like, well, a Hollywood movie.

I know--the movie is mimicking 1930s melodrama with its simplified characterizations and plot. But just because these same narrative problems existed 80 years ago doesn't mean they're more excusable now. In fact, I feel I should be more critical. A director like Eastwood should know better.

Eastwood tends to receive a lot of praise from critics because of his classical storytelling methods. He's admired for "trimming the fat," if you will, and only keeping in what's necessary. That's not the case here. If anything, Eastwood keeps too much in and is not ambitious enough in the way he moves his camera, edits his scenes or shows the ranges of his characters. It's dry and exactly what we expect.

The movie also goes on for too long. More than one scene misleads us into thinking the end is near, and just when we think we have our resolution, the screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski milks it for more. The last scene is particularly frustrating because it's simply an excuse to label another one of the good guys a hero.

I liked the look and feel of "Changeling" in terms of its technical production, and Angelina Jolie is sympathetic and powerful in the lead role, but Eastwood waters down too much of the story to simplified moralizing. I'm sure it showed a lot of promise on paper, but instead of letting the audience decide what to make of the characters and situations, we're shown what to think, and after that, we're told.