Sunday, 15 February 2009

Gran Torino - Review

In a nutshell...
For the best part of 50 years Clint Eastwood has provided cinema with some truly memorable moments, from both in front and behind, the camera, from the iconic Western anti-hero 'Man With No Name' to the anti-hero detective Harry Callahan to (my personal favourite) the WW2 ... um... anti-hero in Kelly Hero's plus countless other eh, anti-heroes. Although been fairly quiet on the acting front these past few years concentrating on his consistently fruitful directing career with such Oscar nominated heavyweights such as 2003's Mystic River, 2004's Million Dollar Baby (which coincidently was his last movie he appeared in, in an acting capacity) as well as 2006 war time epics Flags Of Our Fathers, Letters of Iwo Jima along with the recently Oscar nominated Changeling starring Angelina Jolie. Suffice to say old Clint has been around the block, beat up enough punks and won more praise and awards than most actors and directors will in a lifetime combined.

This brings us to his latest film Gran Torino, back in the director's chair once again, but more importantly, his first acting role for nearly 5 years. Eastwood plays the role of semi-racist Korean war veteran/retired car factory worker Walt Kowalski, who in the light of the opening sequence where he attends his wife's funeral is now alone for the first time in around 50 years. Angry and bitter at the mere sight of his two sons and grandchildren he finds solace in being alone (with his beautiful 1972 Gran Torino sport) until a chain of events brings him together with his immigrant next door neighbours, the shy Thao and his feisty sister Sue Vang Lor who live with their mother and eccentric grandmother. Over the course of the film you start to see Walt take down his own personal barriers and really grow to have a connection with the family, possibly having the family he always wanted, one who treats him with the respect he deserves and considers his company a privilege instead of a burden. Well, so far so summer children's movie about the curious kids and the grumpy old bastard next door. That is until Thao starts to be harassed by his 'gangster' cousin and without having the guts and determination to fend for himself he goes off and gets the next best thing. Yes, that's right, Clint Eastwood. In true Eastwood fashion he sorts them out harking, a huge chunk of nostalgia, back to his glory days of Dirty Harry and his films with Sergio Leone, proving that you should never underestimated any old man with a shotgun and a lust for killing.

One of the reasons I think Eastwood might have made this film with him as the star is because there could not be a more fitting way to mark the twilight (possibly even the end) of his film career as an on screen actor, at 78 we were never going to get that one final Dirty Harry movie so Gran Torino is possibly the next best thing. If you ever wondered how Harry Callahan would have dealt with being a pensioner, this film is currently the closest I could of imagined to it. Backed up by a solid, yet not overly stand out supporting cast (though look out for Clint's son Scott in a brief appearance has Sue's date), though Chris Carley deserves praise and an honourable mention for his role as Father Janovich, who kind of acts as Walt's unwanted conscience for most of the film. In my opinion Eastwood delivers another brilliant, accessible and most importantly enjoyable film that should be loved by anyone who has been a fan of his work. With scenes that reminds us of his glory days (though in fairness Eastwood has rarely not had glory days), along with scenes that reminds us of other great ethnic suburbia films such as the Oscar winning Boyz In The Hood to the doom and gloom environments of Mystic River. Beautifully shot with a moving score from Clint's other son, Kyle who has provided music to all of his films since 2002's Mystic River, Eastwood has pretty much done it again, and you know what? It honestly made my day (sorry for the pun I've been waiting the entire review to say it).

Stand Out Scene...
The scene where he attends a party at his neighbours home I found quite endearing and quite heart warming showing the first signs of a soul within the bitter lonely old man. Also the scene where he stares down 3 African-American hoods giving Sue a hard time. Pure Eastwood. Yash.

Stand Out Quote...
Walt - (to Father Janovich) "I think you're an overeducated 27-year-old virgin who likes to hold the hands of superstitious old ladies and promise them everlasting life" There is also a mountain of racist slurs I could list here but that just wouldn't be appropriate. Watch the film and you'll know what I mean.

See this if you liked...
Um Clint Eastwood movies? Also Boyz In The Hood.

Pop by later in the week for my (as promised) divine preview for 2009's Academy Awards.

No comments: