Once dubbed the "baby mogul" after his remarkably quick ascent to producing success and executive status, Mount became, before reaching age 30, a force to be reckoned with at MCA/Universal and in the...
Making an earnest cinematic argument for the immortality of the soul and the existence of an afterlife without delving into mushy sentimentality is a difficult task for even the most gifted and “serious” of filmmakers. Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson discovered as much last year when his sappy grandiose adaptation of the ethereal bestseller The Lovely Bones opened to scathing reviews. Critics by and large tend to bristle at movie renderings of what may or may not await them in that Great Arthouse in the Sky.
And yet filmmakers seem determined to keep trying. The latest to make the attempt is Clint Eastwood who throughout his celebrated directorial career has certainly demonstrated a firm grasp of the death part of the equation. His filmography with a few notable exceptions practically revels in it: of his recent oeuvre Invictus is the only work that doesn’t deal with mortality in some significant manner. With his new film Hereafter Eastwood hopes to add immortality to his thematic resume.
The film's narrative centers on three characters each of whom has intimate experience with death and loss. Their stories in true Eastwood fashion can ostensibly be labeled Sad Sadder and Saddest: Marie (Cecile de France) is a French TV news anchor who’s haunted by disturbing flashbacks after she loses consciousness — and briefly her life — during a natural disaster; George (Matt Damon looking credibly schlubby) is a former psychic whose skills as a medium are so potent (the slightest touch from another human being triggers an instant powerful psychic connection a la Rogue from X-Men) they’ve left him isolated and alone; Marcus is a London schoolboy who retreats into a somber shell after losing his twin brother in a tragic car accident (both brothers are played rather impressibly by real-life twins Frankie and George McLaren).
Humanity offers little help to these troubled souls surrounding them with skeptics charlatans users and deadbeats none of whom are particularly helpful with crises of an existential nature. Luckily there are otherworldly options. Peter Morgan's script assumes psychics out-of-body experiences and other such phenomena to be real and legitimate but in a non-denominational Coast-to-Coast AM kind of way. Unlike Jackson’s syrupy CGI-drenched glimpses of the afterlife Eastwood’s visions of the Other Side are vague and eery — dark fuzzy silhouettes of the departed set against a white background. Only Damon’s character George seems capable of drawing meaning from them which is why he’s constantly sought out by grief-stricken folks desperate to make contact with loved ones who’ve recently passed on. He’s John Edward only real (and not a douche).
Marie and Marcus appear destined to find him as well but only as the last stop on wearisome circuitous and often heartbreaking spiritual journeys that together with George’s hapless pursuit of a more temporal connection (psychic ability it turns out can be a wicked cock-blocker) consume the bulk of Hereafter’s running time. We know the three characters’ paths must inevitably intersect but Morgan’s script stubbornly forestalls this eventuality testing our patience for nearly two ponderous and maudlin hours and ultimately building up expectations for a climax Eastwood can’t deliver at least not without sacrificing any hope of credulity.
It should be noted that Hereafter features a handful of genuinely touching moments thanks in great part to the film's tremendous cast. And its finale is refreshingly upbeat. Unfortunately it also feels forced and terribly unsatisfying. Eastwood an established master of all things tragic and forlorn struggles mightily to mount a happy ending. (Which in my opinion is much more challenging than a sad or ambiguous one.) After prompting us to seriously ponder life’s ultimate question Eastwood’s final answer seems to be: Don’t worry about it.
Started career with Roger Corman and as an assistant to producer Danny Selznick at MGM
Joined with Joshua Kramer to form The Mount/Kramer Company
Executive produced a made-for-TV movie, "Open Admissions"
Became co-chair of The Entertainement Internet Inc.; launched CastNet.com, an online casting service
Founded The Mount Company; became an independent film producer based in Burbank, California
Worked as executive vice president in charge of production
Named president, worldwide motion picture production, of Universal's theatical motion picture group
Achieved executive status as assistant to Ned Tanen, theatrical motion picture group president of MCA Inc.
Served as president of production, MCA Inc.
Relieved of duties in November by Frank Price when the latter became president of the MCA motion picture group
Changed name of company to The Mount Film Group
Once dubbed the "baby mogul" after his remarkably quick ascent to producing success and executive status, Mount became, before reaching age 30, a force to be reckoned with at MCA/Universal and in the industry as a whole. After brief stints working for Roger Corman (whose "Frankenstein Unbound" he would produce in 1990), Danny Selznick and Ned Tanen of MCA/Universal, Mount was given responsibility for producing low-budget films for MCA in the late 1970s. Although he soon moved on to larger efforts, he would continue his line of modestly made, popular films as well during his seven-year reign at Universal from 1976 till the end of 1983.<p>During this time Mount was responsible for developing and overseeing the production of over 140 feature films, largely frivolous comedies, action films and routine horror fare, leavened with a reasonable smattering of adult drama, including "Car Wash" (1976), "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977), "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978), "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980), "Missing" (1982) and "Psycho II" (1983). For five of the seven years that Mount headed MCA, the studio tallied record earnings. He became especially noted for giving chances to a considerable number of untested directors, budding writers and fledgling stars and achieved perhaps his greatest satisfaction when appointed to the position his former boss Tanen had held less than a decade earlier. Mount also headed MCA's short-lived theatrical division which helped produce such Broadway shows as "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1979) and "Nuts" (1980).<p>On his own since the end of 1983, the cool and canny producer founded his own company and developed such feature films as "Can't Buy Me Love" (1987), "Tequila Sunrise" (1988), "Bull Durham" (1989), "The Indian Runner" (1991) and Sidney Lumet's "Night Falls on Manhattan" (1996). Mount also developed an amicable working relationship with Roman Polanski and helmed production chores on three of the director's films, "Pirates" (1986), "Frantic" (1988) and "Death and the Maiden" (1994).
Lillard H Mount
Bonnie M Mount
daughter of director Zalman King and writer Patricia Knop