Subtitling Cry Macho (2021)
Directed by Clint Eastwood.
OK, you may need to suspend your disbelief for a few scenes in Clint’s latest offering. I say “suspend”, you might actually want to take your disbelief and lash it up outside the Mexican cantina two streets away, next to one of Mike’s (Clint’s) old rodeo horses. But, come on, even at 91 years old, it’s still narrow-eyed, gravel-throated, potty-mouthed, grumpy Clint in the starring role. And we love that. Especially in his first western since Unforgiven, set around the Tex-Mex border in pre-Trump 1979. Movie buffs will spot parallels with other previous Eastwood films like Gran Torino and the Every Which Way films, so expect some cross-generational banter between ex-cowboy Clint and his young charge, Rafo, played by Eduardo Minnett. However here don’t expect Clyde the orangutan (“Right turn, Clyde”), look out for the eponymously named Macho the plucky, clucky rooster who, despite being merely poultry, has his own scene-stealing moment.
At times, this is a melancholy film, given Clint’s age, his body of solid work and his Academy Awards, but it’s a sweet film, too, with some light moments. Oh, and the eagle-eyed will spot country-music legend, Dwight Yoakam, in a supporting role as Rafo’s estranged father. And if you like Dwight Yoakam as much as I do, that’s got to be worth the ticket money alone.
Talking of country music, the film is book-ended by the Merle Haggard-esque ballad Find A New Home by Will Banister. And you just know that accomplished pianist and country-music afficionado Clint will have chosen the music for his film with great meticulousness. So, I wanted to give due attention to the pacing of the song’s heartfelt lyrics because of their poignancy both to the film’s content and to Clint Eastwood as he perhaps squints back, steely-eyed, over his stooped shoulder at his life and career. I also wanted to make sure the (STEEL GUITAR SOLO) and (HAMMOND ORGAN SOLO)
in the song’s middle eight were correctly labelled, as they are beautifully played and enhance the song’s ache for a bygone time.
Still on musical content, the lush 1964 Spanish ballad Sabor A Mi featured halfway through the film presented more of a subtitling conundrum: Whether or not to cut and paste the Spanish lyrics so gorgeously sung by Eydie Gorme & Trio Los Panchos. This could have easily been done but would have been inconsistent with the rest of the film’s Spanish content, which, save for the odd “Gracias” here and there, was mostly translated into English with burnt-in subtitles, labelled (THEY CHAT IN SPANISH) or (SPEAKS SPANISH). But with not cutting and pasting the Spanish lyrics, I wanted to do a little more than just the usual song credit # EYDIE GORME & TRIO LOS PANCHOS: Sabor A Mi. So, I added a couple of extra captions to indicate when the vocalists alternated between Eydie Gorme and Trio Los Panchos. I did actually want to give credit to the superb tenor vocals of who I’m sure is Hernando Aviles of Trio Los Panchos, but I couldn’t satisfy myself with definitive proof from Internet research and settled on crediting the solo tenor to Trio Los Panchos. For extra measure I added (ROMANTIC SPANISH GUITAR SOLO) in the opposite place. Not much, I know, but I couldn’t bear to leave such a beautiful song so unloved.
A note on the colour ascription for the three main characters. Often the colour allocated to main characters can be compromised when more than four characters appear in a scene, or if you’ve had to duplicate a colour for a character who you think is peripheral at the outset, but who appears more frequently than anticipated. But confusion is invariably minimised because it’s pretty much obvious WHO is speaking by WHAT they are saying. But using captions such as (RESPONDS IN SPANISH) confusion can sometimes arise if colouring is not consistent, and the speaker is speaking off-screen. Sure, you can use (MARTA SPEAKS SPANISH), for example, but it can occasionally seem a bit belt and braces. So, I’ve made sure the three main characters’ colours never change throughout the entire film.
By Sean Sutton, Subtitler