Eastwood’s movies weave a European mentality into our American mainstream. In Europe, in France especially, they are less anal about the three act structure, the protagonist’s arc, the “perfect” movie. The best European films seldom adhere to those rules. I’d rather see a director take great leaps than one who continually plays it safe, and Eastwood — for all his strengths and weaknesses — never plays it safe. He doesn’t have to. He’s at a place in his career and at an age when he’s sort of over the need to adapt and impress. To that end, he makes movies that are going to be less and less embraced by mainstream audiences. But this is a guy who doesn’t want to make Unforgiven 2 just to collect a paycheck or to relive past positioning in Hollywood: instead, he reasserts his dominance as an individualist director in the last chapter of his life and his career. J. Edgar fits nicely into the latter Eastwood. As opposed to the Mystic River/Million Dollar Baby, this is more Letters from Iwo Jima/Changeling/Hereafter Eastwood. For many of you that will be frustrating. But for those of us who appreciate his continual evolution, the broader statements he seems to be communicating about the human experience, J. Edgar will be yet another gnarled branch in this, Eastwood’s tree of life.