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Movie review by: Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars
"Gran Torino" by Mike Smith
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Walt Kowalski (Eastwood) sits in a church pew giving displeasing glances to anyone who comes near him. He glowers at his granddaughter, texting friends on her cell phone. It’s his wife’s funeral and Walt isn’t feeling the love. Later on, at his home, it’s more of the same. And to make matters worse, a house full of immigrants has moved in next door. He glares at them, almost daring them to say hello.
Back in the 1970s, the most popular television show was “All in the Family.” Starring the great Carroll O’Connor as bigot Archie Bunker, the show was a comedic success partly because nine times out of ten, the biggest boob on the show was Archie himself. In “Gran Torino” think of Walt as Archie, except that it’s not the Jeffersons that have moved in next door. It’s a Hmong family. Walt, a Korean war veteran, can hardly stand it. Long retired from the Ford plant, Walt lives in the freshly painted house behind the white picket fence on a neatly trimmed lawn. All around him, the neighborhood has begun to deteriorate, yet Walt refuses to move. Making matters worse is Father Janovich (Carley) a young priest who befriended Walt’s wife before she died and made her the promise that he would get Walt to confession. For Walt has a secret, one that is slowly revealed as he gets to know his new neighbors.
It’s been almost four years to the day when I wrote the following about Eastwood’s work in “Million Dollar Baby:” This is, hands down, Eastwoods greatest performance on film. Four years later I stand by that statement. But I’ve got to tell you, his work in “Gran Torino” is a close second. His face weathered, his voice raspy, his eyes still steely, Eastwood could have very easily done a parody of himself here and possibly gotten away with it. However, 50 years removed from “Rawhide,” his growth as an actor continues. Twenty years ago the audience would have laughed if they had heard Clint mutter “Get off my lawn” to a group of teenage punks. Now, they are silent, curiously wondering “what’s next?” When he catches Thao, the young boy next door (Vang), trying to steal his prized possession, the beautiful car of the title, his reaction is not expected. Instead of anger he takes the boy under his wing, as both a mentor and a protector. As the neighborhood toughs try their hardest to recruit Thao into their gang, while constantly harassing his older sister, Sue (Her), Walt realizes that he must change his ways to keep them, and his neighborhood, safe.
Two years ago, Eastwood achieved the near impossible, placing two films on many critics (including this one’s) top 10 list. He does it again this year, with this fall’s “Changeling” joining “Gran Torino” as one of the past years best. Eastwood has said that, at age 78, this may be his last time in front of the camera. I urge you not to miss a legend at the top of his game. On a scale of zero to four I give “Gran Torino”
This week's movie review of "Gran Torino" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith. All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.