Peter Bradshaw: Gary Younge: Every which way but lucid: Eastwood's bizarre turnPeter BradshawGuardian
The MTV movie awards have a prize for the Best WTF Moment; the most bizarre, baffling gobsmacking event. The 2012 winner, and it really is a slam-dunk, is Clint Eastwood, that Hollywood icon, for his frankly bizarre turn at the Republican convention. Halfway into a reasonably genial and sane speech, handing out regulation whacks at the Democratic incumbent, Clint turned to an empty chair positioned beside him, told us that Mr Obama was sitting in it, and then proceeded to ask him questions and respond to his (imaginary) replies: "Whaddaya mean 'shut up'?" Clint rasped. And then: "I can't do that to myself."
It wasn't exactly the classiest piece of work. In fact, it made Kenny Everett's "Let's bomb Russia!" speech for the Tories look positively inspired. Clint looked weirdly like some grandfather who'd asked to give a speech at the wedding reception and then, to the couple's secret dismay, revealed that he had an extensive comedy routine all worked out. The crowd whooped, but Paul Ryan looked noticeably restrained.
What on earth was Eastwood thinking? His knockabout one-side-of-the-conversation turn reminded me of the discipline of green-screen acting that a new generation of movie stars have to learn, talking to some non-existent CGI monster whose presence will be digitally inserted at a later date.
The 82-year-old can do comedy. One of his most profitable movies was Every Which Way But Loose (1978), in which his best bud is Clyde, an orangutan he won in a bet. He confides his deepest thoughts about life and women to Clyde, and Clyde is just the wise monkey - silent. Talking to an orangutan was the one way that Clint could show audiences his adorably goofy side - the box-office was great.
Maybe Clint thought that talking to Imaginary Obama would be the same kind of comedy magic. Or maybe he thought this speech was a non-professional event; he could just dream up some stunt and everyone would love him. Well, it was true: they did love him in the room - sort of - but out there on television and on the endless, pitiless YouTube repeats, things were different. However he might have felt, Clint did not look lucky.
Peter Bradshaw is the Guardian's film critic