Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gran Torino

I unapologetically love Gran Torino.

I've heard the complaints and frankly, every one I've heard is bullcrap.

Clint Eastwood is playing 80-year-old Harry Callahan? Bullcrap! I'd see that movie, too, but this isn't it! If you're spouting this bullcrap, you need to go back and watch Dirty Harry again. Trust me!

(And, yes, the trailer is designed to sell 80-year-old Dirty Harry wants the punks to get off his lawn. I won't argue that.)

Sure, he's a hard guy with a voice like a whisper, but it's Clint Eastwood. You might as well say he's playing Blondie from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as a 20th Century man.


Walt Kowalski, Eastwood's character makes too easy a transition from racist to befriending the Hmong family next door to him? Bullcrap! Did you fall asleep through part of it? His racism was all on the surface to begin with. If there was a problem for me it was that the surface nature of his racism was underlined too many times. Apparently not for some portion of the world. You know, the dumbass bullcrap spouting portion.

But then the casual racism takes up too much of the review space anyway, considering that it completely misses the point. It's not a story about racism.

At all.

Yes, it's a story about a man who says racist things, and holds some racist beliefs.

It's also a movie about a guy who one should suspect stands about six-foot-two.

That's not the point either. The only difference is, Eastwood's height hasn't distracted people from understanding the point of the movie.

Yes, the point. Mind you, Eastwood the filmmaker is a disciple of old school moviemakers like Don Siegel and knows that the first job is to spin a good yarn, which Gran Torino does with ease.

The point is that American society is a bunch of spoiled rotten pussies and we need to man up.

No, really, it is.

It's a movie by a grumpy 80-year-old man about a grumpy 80-year-old man, giving America his grumpy 80-year-old man grumps.

Yes, it is more complicated than that. Kowalski has to make some changes, too, it's about a journey.

Imagine I tell you that Star Wars is about Han Solo's personal journey - It is. - and someone says, "No, he totally just decides to go with them right there in the cantina!"

Um, yeah.

Kowalski's befriending the family is the cantina scene, just without the groovy jazz score.


Mob said...

I'm dying to see this and only today realized it's finally showing locally, I hope it hangs around long enough for me to catch it next week.

So having read your take, I'm curious: the trailers have reminded me of Unforgiven in some ways, as he seems to be trying to live a quiet life and is forced towards violence to help someone else. I mean in the same way the Will Munny character becomes the villain everyone expects him to be because they force his hand.

True? Or am I making up my own movie at this point?

coffee said...

Clint Eastwood used his outward crankiness to come across as tough and yet also heroic at the same time, well done i'd say

Neil Sarver said...

Mob, thanks for your thoughts. I hope you get/got a chance to see it. Obviously I'm a fan. The sweep of the story is actually a little different than that, but it's definitely thematically similar. There's definitely many ways to see that both movies are made by the same man with the same ideas.

Coffee, indeed!

Chris Tait said...

I loved the movie as well. I haven't seen anyone mention this, and it may only be me, but did you get a sense that this was Eastwood's equivalent to John Wayne's last movie, "The Shootist"? I saw a lot of similarities between Walt and J.B. Books.

Neil Sarver said...

And another Don Siegel movie, so well within the realm of Eastwood's style and taste. Yes, I can totally see that, and some day they could indeed make a fine double feature as such on TCM or whatever functions as such at some later time.

Until then, I may consider getting both DVDs and making a night of that on my own. It would be interesting if nothing else.

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