While I revere Clint Eastwood as a director, and hope he continues to make films until he is ready to break his staff, I haven’t unabashedly loved anything he’s done since 1993’s A Perfect World. True, there may be moments of stirring visual poetry in Letters from Iwo Jima, The Bridges of Madison County and Mystic River, but Clint’s craftsmanship can never quite overcome the hoariness of those screenplays.
I don’t know why Clint is so determined to collaborate with mediocre writers, but once The Changeling (by J. Michael Straczynski!) is completed, it looks as though he’ll move on to The Human Factor, which will issue forth from the mighty pen of Anthony "Don’t Say a Word" Peckham. The numbingly generic title has been shortened from the much more captivating The Human Factor: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Changed the World; that’s the title of John Carlin’s as-yet-unpublished book about the 1995 Rugby World Cup in post-Apartheid South Africa which ended racism for good in that country and the world at large. Morgan Freeman has already been cast as Nelson Mandela, and Variety is reporting that Matt Damon is in talks to play a white guy who learns a valuable lesson.
I’m sure it’s an inspiring story and everything, and I’m confident Morgan Freeman will make a terrific Nelson Mandela (I’m actually shocked he’s just now getting around to playing the legendary leader), but there’s not much room for nuance in these movies (i.e. unless they plan on addressing the mysterious food poisoning incident that helped South Africa triumph over New Zealand – and that’s no joke). Maybe the lesson is "You can be on the right side of history, and still cheat at sports". If so, my kvetching is for naught.
Should Clint agree to direct, The Human Factor will begin shooting sometime in 2008. It will also go from being an independent production to a Warner Brothers release. Currently, Freeman is producing with Lori McCreary and Mace Neufeld.