Jersey Boys ★★★★

A certain ideal of post-war American masculinity, in its most recognizably pumped-up form, that of the mob-connected Italian-Americans of New Jersey, convenient metaphor of capitalist patriarchy in its purest form at war with the pure pure voice and soul of Mr. Frankie Valli. In any other musical biopic, the first performance of one of the great pop songs of all-time, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", would be an unadulterated triumph, an expression that all Valli has sacrificed and lost for his art was worth it because he did this. But the prevailing emotion here is sadness, not just at the personal losses Valli has suffered (family and friends) but at his utter bewilderment at the essential contradiction of his life: that everything that made it possible, the crooks who protected and promoted him at every step along the way and the ethic that drove him to prioritize work over family, are just as well the cause of his downfall. It's that bafflement on Valli's face, the awe at his own abilities and how they've been received and his hopeless stare out a coffee shop window, that elevate this truth above the banal. Eastwood's films give us simple, even common, themes and tropes. Their power resides in the fact that his heroes (Will Munny, Josey Wales, John Huston, et al) can hardly comprehend them.

I'm gonna go dust off my Four Seasons MP3s.