Friday, 18 September 2009

40: Twelve Movies - Gran Torino

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Originally posted: 13 March 09.

12 Days: 12 Movies
(2009, 116mins, Dir. Clint Eastwood)

Put Simply: No one fucks with an angry old man.

Stars: Clint Eastwood, his bad-ass fucking attitude, Bee Vang, Ahney Her

Walter Kowalski (Eastwood) is an embittered man, shunning his family and neighbours who insist they have his best interests at heart. The world has gone to hell, and he seems to be the only one who's noticed. He longs to immerse himself in making everything within his four walls perfect, and drinking beer on his porch.

I love this man already.

As far as loveable old bastards go, Eastwood's got it nailed. His abusive, racist banter with his barber stands out especially. The plot is actually fairly generic, with the grizzled old Vietnam veteran gradually befriending his neighbours, as his brash racism crumbles, and his common decency only strengthens. Hailed as a neighbourhood hero for standing up to a gang, Kowalski manages to exorcise his demons, coping all the while with growing infirmity and ill-health. About 90% of this movie is a real pleasure to watch.

Playing Kowalski's young protegé, Bee Vang's got a bit of work to do on his 'angry' mode, but he's largely convincing. However, the film's only real failing is that the violence that serves as one of it's anchors feels so... staged. Eastwood and the rest of the cast are fine waving the guns about, but the minute it comes down to physical blows (and it does, several times), we're suddenly in am-dram territory, and the cast seem to almost slo-mo their own punches. Nothing seems to connect, which undermines the generally fine acting from the cast.

Ultimately, this is a good film, but doesn't strike me as great. The finalé is telegraphed a little too much, but still leaves you with a warm feeling. I'd watch it again, but only with someone who hasn't already seen it, if that makes sense? If this really is Clint's swansong, fair play to the bloke... there are many who've gone out on lower notes than this.

Oh, and Clint singing the title song at the end? Shades of Dennis Waterman there, fo-sho ;)

I reckon: 7/10

Tomorrow: Two Tickets to Paradise

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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