Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gran Torino

It's been several months since I made it to the movie house and I'm sure you've all been wondering if I'd ever get around to doing movie posts again.

The day has arrived. I've managed nominal control over the 'hock and spit' situation to the point where I'm willing to venture back out into the world again, burn up that $4 gas I purchased last October, and start to live a little more, even if it is just a little.

Gran Torino is the tale of Walter Kowalski(Clint Eastwood),a bitter,scowling, widower living in what was once a nice neighborhood in Detroit. Nice, that is, until urban decay and the arrival of Gooks and Spooks ruined the place.

One thing unusual about this film: the majority of the cast are Hmong, who play the parts of Kowalski's neighbors. Not that important, but it may be a trivia question for somebody someday.

Moving along...
With Spooks and Gooks, come gangs and violence. Kowalski unwillingly, and unwittingly, befriends, and is befriended, by all his Hmong neighbors whom he despises but comes to appreciate. He's the only one with the brass pair to stand up to the gangs and trouble makers, and the Hmong are the only ones who genuinely appreciate him for who he is, warts and all.
It becomes evident he is also harboring a few spooks of his own, in terms of bad war memories, and a distant relationship with his own children.

Much of the movie centers on this relationship with the Hmong, as he takes the neighbor family under his protective wing, and teaches their weak-willed son how to walk,talk and act like a man.
Most of the time I was laughing my ass off. This movie is hilariously funny, in a disrespectful, impolite, politically incorrect way. I thought I knew every possible slur for an Asian. Now I've learned a few more. Not to be mistaken: this is not a comedy. This is a serious story,presented in a serious way. But even serious life is funny from the outside looking in. And Kowalski calls everything the way he sees it, unafraid to offend anybody.

I've heard that Clint Eastwood is retiring (he's 78) and this is his final project. It's a good exclamation point to place at the end of a stellar and varied career, and easily ranks as among his best. It's hard to compare it to such fare as 'Unforgiven' and 'Pale Rider', but that's only because it's a wholly different genre. At a time when Hollywood has run out of story lines, this is something new, and has no comparison in recent memory.
I'll just say that depending on how you want to judge them, this may be his best work. It's sounds cliche, I know, but that's how I feel about it.


tully said...

Unlike his brother, Stanley, Walter didn't know about the Napoleonic Code...


tully said...

By the way, did they figure out a way to liquefy Whoppers and Popcorn for you, guinea?

Nimos said...

I saw this movie and found it very engaging. It was humorous and touching. I was surprised at some of the things the audience laughed at.

Palm boy said...

I loved this movie. Trying to make a man out of the kid with the barber's help was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you saw it. I thought it was excellent!