7 May 2013

GRAN TORINO

By David Lee Andrews   Posted at  08:00   MOVIES

Gran Torino Cover According to Wikipedia: The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, whom are associated with one of the sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity. But according to this film though? Nah. Don't ask. Especially the Actor / Director: Clint Eastwood; or Bee Vang, Ahney Her, plus Christopher Carley. And never for 116-minutes in 2008! OK?


Gran Torino


THE STORY:
Now it's pretty safe to say that no so long after he buries his wife, ex-motor-head come army-veteran, Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), becomes many-different things to many different people.

To his estranged sons', Mitch and Steve (Brian Haley and Brian Howe): he becomes a stubborn old fool that needs taking care of. To his padre, Father Janovich (Christopher Carley): he becomes a surly old cuss that needs to confess his sins. And to the Lor family: he becomes their miserable next door neighbour that has a great-great car.

Well, admittedly, that's what the Lor's think about Walt at first. But when he inadvertently saves their youngest son, Thao (Bee Vang), from a gang of gooks, before inadvertently saving their eldest daughter, Sue (Ahney Her), from some spades a day or so later, they think he's their 'urban white saviour'.

Yeah. Straight up. Day after day the Lor's ply him with presents and exotic foods fit for Dirty Harry himself. Furthermore, when it is revealed to them that Thao tried to steal Walt's car following his gook attack, Thao is then forced to run errands for Walt for a whole week.

Come on. Face facts. This chore does sound pretty fair, doesn't it? As I mean, what could this unlikely duo get up to within this time frame? Maybe fix a couple of hinges? Dig some soil from the garden? Or what about becoming firm friends when Walt goads Thao to 'man up'?

Still, that's most probably why what next transpires kicks off when Thao gets a job, and Walt starts spitting blood. As a gook gang returns - a family crash and burns - a confession is finally confessed -- and please don't wait up, Walt always knows what's best.



THE REVIEW:
Whilst watching 'Grand Torino', I couldn't help but identify with two of the main characters within this great-great film nigh on straight away -- Walt and Thao.

You see, in my eyes, Walt is very much like my own Mother's Father. No. I won't refer to him as 'my granddad'. Because this nutty old f*ck-wit was hardly involved in my life, due to the fact that -- like Walt -- he found it difficult to engage with people who weren't on a similar level as he was.

Please note: This isn't a character assassination. It's more of an observation about an archetype that I could gage with on a very personal level. And to me, this is a good thing for any film to accomplish.


Barber Shop Scene in Gran Torino


As for Thao on the other hand -- well -- he just like my good mate Mike. They're both humble. Easy targets. Asian. Good natured. Plus could do very well with their respective lives, if someone was willing to give them some much needed guidance.

Again: This is only an observation. And in no way does it reflect badly on this smashing movie.

Clint Art from Gran Torino
Here, before I start comparing the rest of the characters in this flick with superheroes; let's jog my brain a bit with some filmic-facts, OK? (1) 'Warner Bros' released this $33 million dollar production on the 12th of December, 2008, eventually making back $269 million dollars at the box office. (2) Most of this film was shot on location throughout the state of Michigan, including: Royal Oak, Centre Line, Detroit, Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Park, and Highland Park. (3) Walt Kowolski -- the character Clint play's in this yarn -- is named after the legendary wrestler of the same 'Killer' name. On a side note: Kowolski is a very popular Polish name -- like 'Smith' is in English. And in certain circles identifies a person to be of Polish descent  (4) Although this project was scheduled to be shot in 35 day's, like many of Clint's other movies, it was shot within its designated time-frame -- 33 days. Unlike many of Clint's other movies, though, his character only shoots a gun once. And even then that was by accident. (5) I kid you not; this adventure has been the most lucrative Clint Eastwood project to date. However, if you take inflation into account, 'Every Which Way But Loose', plus 'Any Which Way You Can', inadvertently surpasses it. (6) Prior to its release, this film was falsely rumoured to be the final chapter in the 'Dirty Harry' film franchise. (7) Not only did Clint's second to youngest son, Scott Clinton Reeves, play the part of Trey in this film, but his eldest son, Kyle Eastwood, provided the music score for it also. (8) Even though the 'Academy Awards', the 'Oscars', plus the 'Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences', all failed to recognise the brilliance of this film, in the same breath, the 'American film Institute', the 'National Board of Review', the 'Broadcast Film Critics Association', the 'Golden Globes', the 'Art Directors Guild', and the 'César Awards', didn't.


Clint in Action in Gran Torino


OK, so where was I? Oh, yes. 'Grand Torino'. A film I could associate with because a mate of mine is a bit of stray, whilst my Mother's Father is a bit of a prick. Anyway, as you might have guessed by now, I do love this movie because it has so much going for it. It's well acted. It tells a story. It evolves a diverse relationship. Plus it introduces to some people a humble oriental race.

Clint and Girl in Gran Torino
Honestly. I can't fault this film at all. I thought it was pure bliss on celluloid. One of the stand-out aspects for me would have to be how Walt's 'right-wing' take on life, exponentially became perverted the more his bond with Thao and the Lor family grew and grew. Also, I did enjoy the episodic structure of the overall narrative, plus how it was clearly defined in five fairly even parts. Such as -- Part One: Say hello to Walt. Part Two: Say hello to the Lor's. Part Three: Walt and Lor's say hello to each other. Part Four: Walt take's Thao under his wing. Part Five: Boom!

Now for the life of me, I could go on and on and on, praising 'Grand Torino' till the cows come home. Stating how I loved watching Walt and the Ninja granny staring each other out whilst sitting on their respective porches. Or surmising about the parallels between Walt's character and the Marv character from Sin City (click on the link to see why). Moreover, I could also extrapolate about the dichotomy of 'old school' people compared to 'new world' people. But I won't. I don't have to. This is a class A film; and is a must watch for anyone who likes following an evolving and engaging story. Agreed Clint?




What a guy!

THE RATING: A+

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