|Gran Torino (+ Digital Copy and BD-Live) [Blu-ray]
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Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino, an unassuming picture shot during a post-production lull on his elaborate period piece Changeling, was quietly rolled out at Christmastime 2008, whereupon it proceeded to blow away all the Oscar-bait behemoths at the box office and win its 78-year-old star the best reviews of his acting career. Both film and performance are consummately sly--coming on with deceptive simplicity, only to evolve into something complex, powerful, and surprisingly tender. Just as Unforgiven was a tragic reflection on Eastwood's legacy in the Western genre, Gran Torino caps and eloquently critiques the urban heritage of Dirty Harry and his violent brethren. And on top of that, the movie becomes a savvy meditation on America in a particular historical moment, racially, economically, spiritually. Call it a "state of the union" message. But call it that with a wry grin.
The latest Dirty Harry is actually a grumpy Walt: Walt Kowalski (Eastwood playing his own age), widower, Korean War veteran, retired auto worker, and the last white resident of his Detroit side street. It's hard to say who irks him more--his blood kin (a pretty lame bunch) or the Hmong families who are his new neighbors. Kowalski's a racist, because it has never occurred to him he shouldn't be. Besides, that's the flipside of the mutual ethnic baiting that serves as coin of affection for him and his working-class buddies. Circumstances--and two young people next door, the feisty Sue (Ahney Her) and her conflicted brother Thao (Bee Vang)--contrive to involve Walt with a new community, and anoint him as its hero after he turns his big guns on some ruffians. The trajectory of this may surprise you--several times over. Eastwood opted to film in economically blighted Detroit--a shrewd decision, but it's his mapping of Walt's world in that classical style of his that really counts. Every incidental corner of lawn, porch, and basement comes to matter--and by all means the workshop/garage that houses the mint-condition Gran Torino which Walt helped build in a more prosperous era. This is a remarkable movie. --Richard T. Jameson
- Personally Loved This!
Ok, it starts out with cranky,old Clint Eastwood's character. The begining is basically the part where it shows why he is all grumpy and has that hoarse smoker's voice. It is somewhat about the car because how the confilct against the Hmong gang all started was because of the car. One of the Hmong boys got got and was forced to work for Clint Eastwood's character. They began to bond with eachother and they began to like eachother. The boys sister was beaten and raped and then Eastwood's character decided to go out and finish his deed. If you are into those dramatic/sad stories and movies, or just any type of genre I would most definitley reccomend this to everybody out there!...more info
- One of the best character arcs I've seen on film
Every good story begins on the day that everything changes. In this case, it's the day Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) lays his wife Dorothy to rest. You see the typical Catholic funeral and wake with the very traditional Walt far distanced from his sons and their kids.
He's even more distanced from Fr. Janovich (Christopher Carley) the parish priest, who made a promise to Mrs. Kowalski before she died that he'd make sure Walt got to confession.
Walt's response to the priest: "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."
Once the family's gone, we see Walt's the last remaining resident in a lovely old neighborhood that's become an Asian ghetto. The mutli-generation Vietnamese family next door has problems of their own. Young Thao (Bee Vang) is being recruited by the local gang. His sister Sue (Ahney Her) is getting hustled by young men who only want to use her as a pretty face.
You're going to hear a lot of racial epithets from an old man who fought in Korea. His neighbors look like the enemy who haunt his dreams and as he says to one gang member: "I used to stack @#$* like you, five feet high in Korea, use ya for sand bags."
Yet, as time goes by Walt comes to know his neighbors and his neighborhood. He sees the war between people trying to live their lives honestly and the gangs who'd steal that honest living and not look back. Walt's gradually assimilated into this community and the 'old dog learns a few tricks' as well as teaching some strength and courage to young Thao.
"Gran Torino" is the best Clint Eastwood film I have seen so far. He's matured as both an actor and director and while is work in this film is not as polished as "Changeling," it's a heartfelt effort. This is one film I have seen in the theatres and probably will own and watch again.
Rebecca Kyle, March 2009
- Outstanding, Eastwood's greatest!
The Academy Awards have once again ignored another masterpiece by the legendary Clint Eastwood. However Gran Torino completely deserved it, it did however win Eastwood the reviews of his acting career. Both film and performance are consummately sly--coming on with deceptive simplicity, only to evolve into something complex, powerful, and surprisingly tender.
Walt Kowalski is a widower, Korean War veteran, retired auto worker, and apparently the last white resident of his side street. He also racist and agressive towards his new Korean neighbours and his pathetic family.
As the film advances he starts to change his opinion towards the Koreans next door and develops a friendship between Sue (Ahney Her) and her conflicted brother Thao (Bee Vang). The trajectory of this may surprise you--several times over. Eastwood opted to film in economically blighted Detroit--a shrewd decision, but it's his mapping of Walt's world in that classical style of his that really counts. Every incidental corner of lawn, porch, and basement comes to matter and by all means the workshop/garage that houses the mint-condition Gran Torino which Walt helped build in a more prosperous era.
This is by far Clint Eastwood's greatest film. Filled with Eastwood's style of film making and acting. This is a remarkable movie. Shame upon the Academy Awards for ignoring this film.
- Just Another Day at the Office for the Master
I believe no one understands and depicts, with sympathy for (almost) all, the complexities and ironies of living in the United States and being an American better than Clint Eastwood. Not too many even try, preferring the simple shorthand of good guys and bad guys that Clint left behind better than two decades ago. My pick for his personal turning point? The small elegant A Perfect World.
Gran Torino, while not at the peak of Eastwood's acting and directing work like Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and Letters from Iwo Jima, gives us a broken-down former industrial powerhouse, immigrants building a new beginning and adding to America's cultural richness, and an individual hung between a finished past and trying to make sense of a changing present, where manners and what matters seem to have been lost even among the man's own. It is the classic Eastwood dry humor touch that he begins to embrace that present through an afternoon of eating delicious Hmong food. Only thing I would change about Gran Torino -- a little less monosyllabic grunting, please.
Gran Torino, like everything Eastwood has done for the last twenty years or so and everything we'll be lucky enough to get in the future, is not to be missed. ...more info
- Clint's Little Masterpiece
What a shame that what will probably one day be regarded as Clint Eastwood's finest achievement was so conspicuously snubbed by the Academy. Hollywood doesn't deserve such a beautiful, touching movie.
Clint's snarling, grumbling curmudgeon, Walt Kowalski, makes Dirty Harry seem warm and cuddly by comparison. But Walt has important lessons to teach us about humanity. That actions really do mean more than words, that, as Viktor Frankl put it, there really are only two races: the decent and the indecent. Way too troubling a message for the Hollywood crowd.
As if that weren't enough to gain it a Best Picture nod, you get the little gem of a theme song, subtly woven into the body of the film and finally emerging in full flower at its end. A melancholy, lilting ballad, it will stick in your mind and continue to break your heart long after you leave the theater. "It beats a lonely rhythm all night long..."...more info
- Clint's Best Movie Since The 1970s!!
Finally, this great movie is coming to DVD! In my opinion, this is Clint's best movie since 1976's "The Enforcer" his third Dirty Harry film. In recent films, Clint has been a little soft and too nice of a guy. He is back in action in this great film that is also a wonderful story! This movie reminds me very much of John Wayne's last film, "The Shootist". In both films, Duke and Clint take a boy under their wing and mentor them. There are many other similarities that I won't say because I'll be giving away the plot. I can't wait to own this great Clint Eastwood film!...more info
- Great Movie, But Dances Along The Stereotypical Line (Rating: 8 out of 10- -4.0 stars)
I had the pleasure of seeing Clint Eastwood's "Grand Torino" and thought it was a pretty solid and emotional movie. Mr. Eastwood is a veteran in Hollywood movies, as you can tell. His acting is just excellent and each movie, he plays his part well. Like in this movie, he plays as a grumpy old man (in his 70's), who is an ex-war veteran living in Michigan, who unfortunately lost his wife. An Asian family moves in next door, and he ends up making a bond with them, despite their differences.
My opinion of this movie is that the acting by all characters is great. I think that the movie is sort of stereotypical at times such as when the old guy calls the Asians every name in the book (i.e. "Gooks"), or like when he punks some black kids who tries to take the Asian girl (and the person she was walking with). I understand that the setting of the movie is here in 2008/2009, so there is a lot of common ground here (some people may say it's for the better).
Overall Eastwood directed a great movie, as him playing the main character, and teaching a young boy how to live for himself. This is one movie I would recommend anyone to see, because it is very interesting. Peace.
P.S.- Did anyone else notice one of the Asian thug kids (the chubby one with short hair) has two thumbs on one of his hands, or was that just me?...more info
- The better of Clint's 2008 films, one of his most surprising and moving films...
Clint Eastwood, throughout his career, has directed many films, more than most directors, and in 2008 he made two features. He's done this a lot in his career (1997, 1975 for instance), and here, the two films, Changeling and Gran Torino, are excellent.
Gran Torino is the better of Clint's 2008 films.
This may turn out to be one of my favorite Clint movies, as it's a real surprise of a film. It's funny, sad, tragic, uplifting, and fascinating, and Clint packs it all into a running time of two hours (it's shorter than most of his other films, which usually hit the 140 minute mark). Clint gives one of his most memorable performances as Walt Kowalski, a retired auto worker living in the Midwest who is a racist. Through circumstance, he befriends one of his neighbors, a Hmong teenager, and helps him through his life, leading to a stunning conclusion, one of the most surprising and moving in all of Clint's work.
This is one of Clint's most surprising films, funny and tender, filled with great cimenatography, funny dialogue, intelligent situations, and, for the most part, excellent performances. The two lead Hmong actors overact on occasion, but all of the other performances are first rate. The film is also very respectful of the Hmong culture itself, and I myself knew nothing about it until this film. This film is also the biggest box office hit of Eastwood's career, which is really wonderful and a bit startling, if you think about it. It reminds me of when Bob Dylan's Modern Times hit #1 a couple of years ago. Years ago who would have guessed that Eastwood would be where he is today, considering most, if not all, of his contemporaries are playing caricatures of themselves, are doing mediocre supporting roles, or rehashing old roles.
Eastwood keeps surprising us and himself, making excellent picture after excellent picture. His last six films, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, Changeling, and Gran Torino, have been a remarkable run, and I can't wait for the next Clint Eastwood film. ...more info
I would highly recommend this movie. Clint Eastwood plays a man stricken with cancer that has recently lost his wife. He lives in a harsh neighborhood that is multi-cultural. There is an hmong family that lives next to him. The mother has her son, daughter, and mother living with her. Eastwood plays a very racist, ex-military man that is set in his ways. He has a good heart but doesn't want anyone to know it. There is a lot of racial verbage tossed around in the beginning of this show.
When the neighbor's son tries to steal Eastwood's character's Gran Torino from his garage in order to become a member of his cousin's gang, Eastwood catches him and makes him do work around his and other neighbors' homes. The boy is a good kid but was being bullied into joining this gang and really didn't want to.
The gang becomes relentless in their attempts to get the boy to join the gang and eventually targets him and his family for refusing them. Eastwood's character decides to help.
It's a wonderful personal growth story on how people can change their views by being around other cultures and understanding them. Realizing that we all are similar in the most basic ways. It is also a wonderful stance on the fight against gangs and what they stand for. How communities can pull together to clean up their neighborhoods and make them safer....more info
- Pure Eastwood
A brooding Eastwood just wants to be left alone. He is truly living in the past and quite content with it. His compassion for an ethnic minority neighbor overcomes his self imposed isolation and his Dirty Harry character emerges. My favorite line is when he is confronted by the gangbangers and slowly explains to them that there are some people that they should just not #%*@ with! A must for any Eastwood collection!...more info
- One of Clint's very best.
As far back as I can remmember going to a Clint Eastwood film has always in itself represented a warranty for watching something decent at the very least. After UNFORGIVEN came out, there were plenty of just OK films like SPACE COWBOYS, ABSOLUTE POWER, TRUE CRIME and the like but recent years have come with an Eastwood streak of fantastic hits which is just amazing considering the guy will be 80 next year. My personal favorite will always be the said UNFORGIVEN but GRAN TORINO is definetely in my top 5 favorite Eastwoods. The sight of the boy driving the car by the lake at the very end should have you smiling from ear to ear. Just great....more info
- Clint delivers again!!!!
Clint Eastwood has done it again.
His swan song???
A good film dealing with many social & personal issues during a lifetime.
A very trans-generational movie!!!...more info
- Beyond great!
This movie is so great in so many ways, I could not possibly write a review that would do it justice. Get it. Watch it now, 6 months from now, a year from now, 10 years from now... You'll get something new from it every time.
I thought Clint Eastwood peaked with Unforgiven, but I'm glad to see that I was wrong. Still, I hope this isn't the last we'll see of Clint Eastwood. I'm still hoping he'll do a "retired Dirty Harry in an old folks home" movie. A predictable setup where Dirty Harry is now in an assisted living facility that gets robbed and harrassed by some neighborhood punks, so he rallies the old guys for some geriatric revenge using some of that unpredictable Dirty Harry style. That would be a RIOT!...more info
- Powerful, emotional film that's bigger than the sum of its parts
Some have criticized "Gran Torino" as being too simple, cliched and hurt by the performances of the film's first-time actors.
But this is one of those rare movies that's bigger than the sum of its parts. In recent years, I have yet to see a film that managed to get both men and women to cry. And that it would provoke such strong emotions is not evident until the last act.
It may seem simple and cliched on the surface, and while I knew that Clint Eastwood's character Walt would eventually warm up to his Hmong neighbors, I didn't expect that the movie would also have me, a guy who doesn't cry at movies, wiping my eyes. And not just once, but the three other times I saw the film at the theater. And I heard other people crying at every viewing.
Each time I viewed it, it was just as powerful, if not more.
Walt is an old, bitter racist, who just about hates everyone, including the young pastor who visits him regularly at the request of Walt's late wife, and his own children and their families.
On paper, the story seems simple, but its power is hard to deny. It's part drama, part comedy, part tale of one man's racist surface, but as the credits roll, you realize that the power of the movie, the emotional buttons it pushes, make this a movie that rises above the acting, above its direction, above its script, to make something deeper and emotionally touching than most would have expected.
There are subtle touches and small scenes that any other director would not have folded into the film. And they do go by like a breeze for the most part. They'll have you laughing, smiling or shaking your head.
And it's good that Eastwood's character does not make a complete (and unrealistic) 360 degree turn, as you see in most American movies.
And given what Eastwood has delivered in most of his movies, most notably as Dirty Harry and his various Westerns, you expect a big showdown to come, and that showdown does come, but not with the ending you expect.
Eastwood has made powerful movies before, but this one really seemed to touch the core of many people, across many age groups, and racial/ethnic designations.
On a side note, Eastwood has also done what so many Hollywood studios and filmmakers choose not to do, which is portray Asian-Americans as regular, everyday people, living in America. That's no small feat, as most Hollywood studios go out of their way to not cast Asian-Americans and not show the lives of Asian-Americans. They rather change the race of the characters, even when they're basing a movie on a real-life story about Asian-American people, or offer easy, ignorant stereotypes.
Eastwood only deserves credit, because it's something that should have been done decades ago.
And while this movie may not get much kudos from the snobby critics in the big film world, it has a emotional pull that even some recent Eastwood movies don't have.
It may not have won any big awards, but it's a movie I plan on watching for years to come....more info
- Clint Eastwood's best ever!
Clint Eastwood has absolutely outdone himself with "Gran Torino". I was expecting another tough-guy movie but what I got was something else entirely. Yes, the Walt Kowalski character is indeed a tough guy, but he's so much more than just that. Gone is the one-dimensional predictability of the "Dirty Harry" days. The greatness of this movie is in the complexity and evolution of Eastwood's character. He pulls it off masterfully while painting a gritty, realistic picture of life in a rough, gang-infested neighborhood.
For the sake of avoiding any spoilers, I won't get into a discussion of the plot except to say that the climax of the story was entirely unexpected. The setup certainly suggested a very different ending. The story will appeal to a wide variety of viewers. This is a must-see movie....more info
- Get off my lawn...
Every once and a while i watch a movie that moves me on various levels. Likable characters you care about, a well done story that makes you laugh out loud, get mad, and nearly cry....all in the same film. And this film, Gran Torino, starring the legendary Clint Eastwood, is that film. Its been a while since a movie impressed me in this way, and i just knew i was in for something special when i first saw the preview for it a little while ago; and now that ive seen it i must saw that this probubly ranks as one of Clint's best and one of his most relevant films.
He really carries this film and the supporting cast do a decent job as well. From his character's sons, to his priest. Everyone does a decent job. And even though some of the more younger actors arent right out of theater school, they do a decent job. The best performance of course comes from Clint Eastwood, who does a great job even as an 'old timer'. Its no exaggeration when i say that Clint still has one hell of a bite. I could see him doing over a handfull more of film's, namely of the tough action variety, because Clint is so raw and believable. He'll have you cheer'n in your seat.
But dont get me wrong, this aint an extremely violent shoot-em-up. There are good doses of confrontational and violent moments, but its not an action film. Its more a rea life drama, about an old war hero that wanted to be left the hell alone, but had to do the right thing and help out the neighbors when they had some domestic issues and eventually things get heated, and Clint take's things into his own hands.
Now before your tail starts predicting things, dont be so quick to judge the movie. Lets just say, it has a real and fine ending. One of Clint's most fun and best films. A must watch for all Eastwood fans. ...more info
- Clint Eastwood got cheated out of an Academy award for this picture
This is by far the best picture of 2009 and the absolute best that Clint Eastwood has to offer the public. Hollywood should be ashamed for not nominating this picture for an Oscar. Clint Eastwood was at his very finest in this motion picture.Hollywood insiders showed their ignorance and bias like never before in the history of Hollywood....more info
- Almost 8 Decades In, and Still Going Strong
Gran Torino begins and ends in a church. In between is a tale of bitterness, reawakening, revenge, and ultimately redemption. In other words, this is a Clint Eastwood film.
Gran Torino is a very well done movie, made by one of the most effective directors in Hollywood; if it covers some familiar ground, it is also a departure from this turf. In control on both sides of the camera, Eastwood plays an embittered Korean war veteran, Walt Kowalski, whose wife has just died as the film begins.
Even without his wife's death, Walt could never be accused of being a happy man. He resents his changing Detroit neighborhood and the influx of minorities, personified by the Hmong immigrants who live next door to him. He resents his two sons and their families, especially his spoiled, shallow grandchildren (to Walt's credit I resented them a bit myself; the movie is not interested in making them exactly multifaceted, unless you define multifaceted as managing to be unpleasant, vulgar, and insensitive all at the same time).
If Walt was a more articulate person, there is no doubt he would voice his resentment of America's decline in general, embodied by the decline of the once-great Motor City. He spends his days sitting on his porch, sipping an endless succession of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans, and offering a running commentary, to no one in particular, on the sorry state of affairs.
Meantime, Thao Vang Lor, the teenager who lives next door, finds himself facing his own troubles, as he is pressured by his gang-leader cousin to abandon his books in favor of automatic weapons, aimless driving, and other trappings of gang life. Peer-pressured into attempting to steal his reclusive next-door neighbor's prized Gran Torino, Thao predictably flubs the robbery and is nearly shot by Walt in the process.
The event causes Walt to sit up and take a sharper look at the troubles around him. And little by little - and yet somehow overnight - he becomes a not-especially reluctant protector of the very family whose presence he complained about so lengthily. Sounds familiar? Sure. This is Eastwood territory, and we delight to see him enter it, for no one does it better. Perhaps more than any other actor, Eastwood carries his iconic status with him, in every role he plays. It is unavoidably a part of him - every jaded, raspy word, the grizzled, seen-it-all features, the corded arms and piercing eyes and the slouching confidence he feels for his own two hands and not much else. He could not abandon this if he tried, and we do not want him to.
Seeing three teenage bullies harassing the daughter of the family on her way home from school, Walt watches from his truck, growing increasingly incensed. What follows is no less delightful for the predictability of the track it follows. The truck pulls up, a man gets out. The teenagers bluster and advise him to move on. "Every now and then," Walt replies, "you run into a guy you shouldn't have f--ked with. I'm that guy."
Yup, we're in Eastwood Country, all right. And it's good to be there.
As the film goes on, the violence increases as Walt's heart opens slowly, reluctantly, once again, and he is drawn into the life of his neighbors, who hail him as a savior. There are many nice moments here, and these are made more poignant by the shadow which Walt oh-so-willingly moves under. Eastwood can be wonderfully grouchy when he wishes, and the scenes where the two Hmong children try to draw him out of his shell have a light, pleasant feel to them, even if occasionally a gesture or line ring slightly false.
But the good times are not here to stay. This is an Eastwood film, and Eastwood doesn't believe in happy endings. Or, for that matter, peaceful ones. And soon enough an act of loathsome brutality on the part of the gang members spurs Walt into a savage, guilt-ridden consciousness that the semi-playful violence he has so enjoyed flirting with has produced real and insufferable consequences for those closest to him. And with that realization, he heads off to a climax as unavoidable as that in any Western.
Eastwood is older, now, and his body, although still strong, is less vital than in some of his past iconic roles. And so we can only hope that there is enough of Harry Callahan or William Munny left in him to succeed. Does he? Yes, and no. And the ending is a strikingly un-Eastwoodesque ending - until one considers for a moment, and decides that maybe it is a quintessential Eastwood ending after all.
On the other side of the camera, Eastwood turns in a strong performance (does he know any other kind?) but not a true tour de force. In his defense, the script doesn't allow him this chance - while strong, it does not seem particularly inclined to take him into challenging or uncharted waters. Nonetheless, the machine called Clint Eastwood is going strong, and unlike the Motor City itself, he shows no signs of slowing down.
- Easily funnier than any comedy, heartbreaking and heartwarming
I wouldn't know how to start in heaping more and more praise on a movie like this. This was the sort of movie that cinema is made for. Even being a hard R-rated dramatic character study, it manages to be not just lightly humorous, but outright laugh-out-loud hilarious in almost every scene, without ever disrupting the tone of the movie or the mood.
The film is indeed about Walt Kowalski, which Clint Eastwood plays in a way not far from the movie personas that made him famous, and yet easily encompassing how someone would imagine someone like Dirty Harry as an 80+ year old man. He seems as though he's not "Clint Eastwood playing a crusty old racist" but rather "A crusty old racist playing himself". No matter how many racist terms he tosses out, it's always in a way that doesn't seem in any way out of the ordinary or like too much of a step for Eastwood to draw out in his acting.
And so many of the scenes from the snarling stares given to his family and friends during his wife's funeral, to chewing out priest Janovich, sparring with Sue back and forth, there's always hilarity to be had when he starts growling or mumbling something in a voice close to Batman in "The Dark Knight".
Yet despite his cantankerousness, racism, and stubborn need to be self-sufficient, he never ventures into the realm of disgusting or (overly)violent; he seems just as ready to string out a racist rant against ghetto-looking street thugs as he is against sheet-wearing hillbillies.
The burgeoning friendship that builds between Walt and Thao is sweet without stepping into being saccharine, and the climax of the film is intense, causing a great change in Walt that would seem fully unexpected in a movie character, yet in this context is not only done brilliantly, but Clint Eastwood develops his character so thoroughly, that he becomes the character as deeply and richly as Daniel Day-Lewis did Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood": You fully believe Walt Kowalski could be a real person. He is in no way a hero or a villain, but just a normal person.
To the end of the film, Walt remains an unrepentant racist and bitter, cantankerous old man hateful of almost anything, but where his own family is alienated from his life, he seems to gain a new one in the form of Thao and his family. ...more info
- Eastwood's finest work as an actor
Growing old certainly seems to agree with Clint Eastwood. For popular as he was at the box office, Eastwood, in the early stages of his career at least, never seemed entirely comfortable in an actor's skin - his performances often coming across as stiff and wooden as he mumbled his way through perpetually clenched teeth and the barest minimum of dialogue (it wasn't for no reason that critics always seemed to describe his early characters as "laconic"). Yet, now that he's encased in an old man's body, that stiffness couldn't be more organic to the characters he's playing - or more effortlessly natural. In "Gran Turino," Eastwood returns for one last time to the role of the lone gunslinger - whether it be on the western frontier as the Man With No Name or on the meanest of urban mean streets as Dirty Harry - that made him an icon for a generation of moviegoers who grew up on his films. Yet, it is a return tempered by the kind of wisdom and restraint that only age and a lifetime's worth of experience can bring.
Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a septuagenarian who is practically the walking definition of a grumpy old man. A Korean War vet still haunted by the memories of what he saw and did there, Walt is a prickly, snarling, irreligious cynic who doesn't much cotton to the informality and lax standards of the modern world. He also happens to be the most "lovable" bigot to come our way since Archie Bunker, a thoroughgoing racist who doesn't hesitate to spit out every politically incorrect epithet he can lay his hands on when the situation calls for it (although, in all fairness, he doesn`t hesitate to refer to himself as a "Pollack" from time to time as well). The key thing to understand about Walt, however, is that while he may be filled with venomous hatred for much of his fellow Man, he knows how to cut through a line of BS when he hears it (much to the consternation of the neighborhood priest who keeps offering Walt salvation through confession). Distraught at the loss of his beloved wife, Walt wages a one-man war against the army of immigrants that has "invaded" his formerly all-white, lower middle class neighborhood in recent years. Walt is particularly irked by the Asian family who's moved in next door, until he's befriended by the teenage daughter, who slowly and cautiously brings him into their world. Walt, in turn, takes her younger brother under his wing, helping him stand up to the gang members who taunt and threaten him on almost a daily basis.
"Gran Torino" is fraught with any number of potential pitfalls, all of which are deftly sidestepped by Nick Schenk's screenplay, Eastwood's direction and, most notably, Eastwood's performance in the starring role. The image of an old man single-handedly staring down a bunch of hardcore gangbangers could easily have elicited laughs under other circumstances, but because Eastwood draws upon our cherished memories of his well established image as a tough guy, we are able to suspend our disbelief and accept it all at face value. This is one time when the audience's previous familiarity with and affection for an actor truly pays off in a big way. Moreover, even though we know where the story is going - that this unyielding curmudgeon will eventually be won over and softened by his experience with this alien culture and the people in it - the easygoing tone of the film keeps it from becoming preachy or mawkish. In fact, what strikes one most is just how funny so much of this movie turns out to be, and this is due almost exclusively to Eastwood's sly, often playful performance. With a disarming cynic's grin and a sardonic twinkle in his eye, Eastwood makes a potentially one-note character into a fully fleshed-out human being.
For while the other performances in the film are uneven at best, "Gran Torino" contains the best work Eastwood has ever done on screen. The movie serves as a valedictory of sorts for a man whose most recent movie triumphs have all taken place on the other side of the camera. This role is like that last walk the hero takes down the middle of main street before heading off into the sunset. It's a bittersweet image befitting one of the genuine cinematic icons of all time....more info
- Finding His Place In Today's World
I think that anyone who has ever seen a Clint Eastwood film would agree that he is a terrific actor. Whether as a lone cowboy (The Man With No Name Trilogy), a gritty cop (Dirty Harry), or a boxing manager (Million Dollar Baby), Eastwood is able to provide just the right emotions and actions for the part.
However, just as important as his acting is the way he progresses his characters in each film he makes. Unlike, say, Sylvester Stallone, who tries to play Rocky Balboa and John Rambo at 60 years old, Eastwood takes on roles suitable for a man his age (78). That is the reason why Gran Torino is such a great film.
As the movie begins, Eastwood's character--Walt--is a man who no longer fits into today's world. Being a veteran of the Korean War and a longtime employee at a Ford Motor plant, Walt is a throwback to a different generation. Thus, when a Hmong family moves in next door to him and a gang of young Mexicans begin terrorizing the neighborhood, Walt withdraws even further into the shell of his past (as we all fear what we do not understand). The only time we ever see him happy during the film is while swapping old war stories and tell racist jokes with his old pals down at the local bar. Otherwise, he just bickers with or downright insults everyone else around him, whether it be his Catholic priest, his new neighbors, or even his own family.
Due to a completely uncontrollable set of circumstances, however, Walt is drawn into the conflict between the Hmong and Mexican cultures. At first, he resists all attempts to lend a helping hand or accept a little bit of gratitude, but eventually he begins to form some friendships. As the film builds towards and finally reaches its climax, Walt finally begins to understand that the conflicts of today's world are really not that much different those played out on the killing fields of Korea. They may even require the supreme sacrifice in order to make things right.
So, while advertised as a story about a Dirty Harry-type character ("Get off my lawn"), this film is really about so much more. In typical Eastwood fashion, not only does he deliver a spot-on acting performance filled with his usual grit balanced by some dry humor, but he also advances the "aura" of his filmography in a way that no other current Hollywood star can match. Suffice it to say that no chronological context is ever needed for an Eastwood film...he is who he is.
Thus, I recommend this film to pretty much everyone (although be warned that the high use of profanity may rule out the tweens). Relative youngsters (those not yet old enough to get the Senior Citizens discount) will likely enjoy the film because they will be able to better understand the actions/attitudes of their own parent/grandparent. Seniors will obviously be intrigued as the story is told from "their" point of view and Walt struggles with the same emotions they themselves may be grappling with.
Of course, also in typical Eastwood fashion, so many other themes are hinted at during the film that one could write a review about completely different subject matter and still be spot-on in their analysis. I can't say for certain that Gran Torino deserved an Oscar nomination in any category (as I haven't seen its competition), but those would have to be some spectacular films to beat this masterpiece....more info
- Eastwood Excels
Clint Eastwood reminds me of wine. The older he gets, the better he becomes. This is certainly the case for "Gran Torino".
The essence of the film is that Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) is a curmudgeonly old man who has just buried his wife. He now lives alone in a Detroit suburb that is changing before his eyes. Most importantly, a new wave of immigrants from South East Asia, the Hmong, have come to prominence. Walt can neither understand their language nor their culture. He is steadfastly stuck in an earlier era. He has also become estranged from his two sons who see their father as needlessly difficult and unyielding. He is alone except for his father Labrador dog.
Walt is drawn into the Hmong community when he settles a neighbourhood dispute. He does this through the barrel of a gun! Shades of Dirty Harry. But Walt is more than such a one dimensional character. With time, he comes to appreciate his Hmong neighbours and grows closer to them than his own family. Coinciding with the above, Walt is an ongoing dispute of sorts with his late wife's priest who is a na?ve young do-gooder with little knowledge of the real world. Walt has no time for his late wife's faith.
The contrast between Walt and the Hmong is handled well. It leads to Walt being a better man. He is happy to assist them and they return his efforts with gratitude. It wasn't always like this as a young Hmong man, Thao, was instructed to steal Walt's beautifully maintained Ford Gran Torino. The young man repents and the relationship with Walt grows from this point.
If I was to have one criticism of the film it is that its end is somewhat overdone. It could even be called corny. This is a pity. "Gran Torino" has so much to offer. Yet, despite this point, Cline Eastwood has excelled as produce r, director and star. And this from a man of 78! May his future years continue to be so productive.
If you are not moved by "Gran Torino", something must be wrong with you. We share Walt's journey from curmudgeon to redemption with both laughs and sorrow.
I disagree with criticism of some of the actors being wooden. Think about it, how many of us really converse as if we were living a glib, prelearned line, Hollywood dialogue. We hesitate, gather our thoughts, and continue.
There are several call-backs from Eastwood's previous characters. "Get off my lawn" is delivered like Harry Callahan's "Make my day". He spits tobacco juice like Josey Wales. He snarls like Will Munny. He delivers "F**k me" like Ben Shockley. Walt is my favorite Eastwood character, as he is a compilation of Eastwood's best.
The Detroit urban blight is captured as "Gran Torino" was filmed on location in and around Detroit. My hometown (Lansing, Michigan) is much the same as Detroit, this is a movie about people and places I know.
Open your heart, open your mind, and let "Gran Torino" wash over you. You'll be glad yo did.
To this day I still do not understand the praise this movie gets! I get what the movie is trying to do. I get the whole racism, old man in a new world, coming to terms with yourself...blah blah blah. Those things are all well and good if they are done in a halfway decent fashion. First off the acting is on par with any Soap Opera on TV. I could barley sit the through the thing because of this. I think I actually felt vomit touch the back of my throat trying to watch this movie. Second the whole story is just corny as hell. This is pretty much it "Grumpy - Racist old man hates the world...takes sissy Asian kid under his wings...finds peace ". The last thing that really made me want to slit my own throat was the scene where Clint is so shocked that he drops his shot glass. It was so over dramatized....I can't even stand to talk about movie.
Do you self a favor and skip this Over Hyped piece of garbage!
- Shame On You, Academy Awards
The Academy went down yet another notch in my estimation for all but ignoring this masterpiece from the master, Clint Eastwood. Others here have described the rich plot. The group of unknown Vietnamese actors are PERFECTLY led by Clint Eastwood, as the silent, grouchy, proud, imperfect, highly principled American guy we all know--or wish we knew better. Gran Torino is poignant, at times funny, and inspirational. It could be Clint Eastwood's career best, Dirty Harry come full urban-American circle. Shame on you, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. You goofed by ignoring a lot of classics we all love now, and you goofed on this, big time. (And they wonder why ratings for the Oscar show continue to dive, year after year.)
Highly recommended....more info
- Great effort from an All-Time Great
I couldn't wait to see this movie from the moment I saw the trailer and it did not disappoint. The casting of fresh and unknown actors gave the movie such an authentic edge - something I have not seen in a long time - that alone was enough to get a thumbs up by itself. One of the top 10 movies of 2008 !...more info
- Gran Torino - Blu-ray Info
Version: AUS, Japan, UK, EU / Warner / Region Free
VC-1 BD-50 / AACS / Advanced Profile 3
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Running time: 1:56:34
Movie size: 31,51 GB
Disc size: 35,35 GB
Total bit rate: 36.04 Mbps
Average video bit rate: 26.99 Mbps
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1344 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1344 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio German 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish
Number of chapters: 29
Version: U.S.A / Warner / Region Free
Disc size: 33,45 GB
Movie size: 29,70 GB
Average video bit rate: 26.99 Mbps
Total bit rate: 33.98 Mbps
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1344 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1344 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Subtitles: English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
#Manning the Wheel (HD - 9m:23s)
#Gran Torino: More Than a Car (HD - 3m:57s)
#DVD Digital Copy
#The Eastwood Way (HD - 19m:17s)
#BD-Live enabled...more info
- An epiphany can come at any time
Clint Eastwood confronts, with the power of an old man who has not lost his memory of the crimes of the Korean War generation, what those crime have transformed him into: a racist, self-centered, extremely bitter person who has become a recluse in his self-righteous expiation of his past, and this expiation takes the color of the total rejection of anything that is not white and wrapped up in an American flag, not seeing that this turns the flag into a shroud, the shroud of all the basic principles of these United States of America. But Clint Eastwood is a man of epiphanies. So he works an epiphany out of this horror. His neighbors are from a Laotian tribe that fought with the Americans in Vietnam against the Communists. Circumstances bring the young boy of this family to trying to steal, on the order from a gang of young people of this community, the Gran Torino collectible car of our Kowalski. Of course he is interrupted and yet spared a bullet that would have killed him. Why? Because Kowalski had done that, had killed a young boy, one day in Korea and that crime is still haunting him. Circumstances will lead him to helping that boy and his sister out of difficult situations with that gang but also with some blacks. He does that on the spur of the moment and along the line of his long cultivated guilt that has to find a salvation after the death of his wife and the discovery that he is spitting blood and probably has lung cancer since he is a heavy smoker. The gang though does not take an intimidation for an answer and certainly not for a final and uncrossable warning. So they go further in their victimizing that boy and girl from next door, a lot farther, and Kowalski take the case in his own hands, at night when he is sure the whole nest of killing predators will be assembled and he comes out of the night, on their front lawn, with dozens of witnesses all around to provoke them into killing him, in fact over-killing him and thus freeing him from his guilt and his disease and at the same time bringing the whole gang down for quite a long time. The best part of this film is the giving away of his possession before and after his death. He dares give his silver star to the young Hmong boy Tao before dying, and will his home to the church of the young Irish priest that had forced him into a sacrificial and Christian attitude and his Gran Torino to Tao again. Clint Eastwood in his old age seems to be cleaning up his own house and home, I mean his American mind and soul and that great Spring clearance takes the form of an admirable and at times compassionate or pathetic sidewalk confession and garage expiation. And that is so reassuring about the transformation that is taking place in the USA right now under our eyes, watered that it has been and still is by the blood of millions more victims, US or not, of two more wars in two more foreign countries that had asked nothing.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID
Clint Eastwood should have won best actor for this movie. I can't see why in the world Sean Penn won. Clint Eastwood is the better actor far and beyond Penn. It is one of his best. Only Clint could have pulled it off....more info
- Like a well-tuned engine
Clint Eastwood has milked his Dirty Harry persona for years. He gives us one more take on the type in his portrayal of Walt Kowalski, a grumpy, bigoted Korean War vet. Kowalski has just lost his beloved wife and is a bitter and embattled man. His middle-aged sons are trying to move him out of the old neighborhood. His grandchildren are disrespectful, sullen teens. Chinese and Mexican gangs roam the once beautiful boulevards. And to top it all off, a family of Hmong has moved in next door.
"Grand Torino" could have become one of many clich¨¦d Hollywood movies -- the old bigot who learns to appreciate the ways of the immigrant; the brave man who cleans out the town of varmints; the codger who finds meaning in mentoring wayward youth. The movie is all of these, but more. Eastwood seems anxious to play up to his past image as much as to play against it. He spits (a la Josie Wales) and tells tough guys to "Go ahead" (a la Dirty Harry). But the movie takes us in unexpected directions when a young priest (Christopher Carley) tries to break through the shell of this tough, grizzled fighter to mend the tender soul inside.
Terrific performances by Ahney Her as the young teen who befriends Kowalski. Even peripheral roles are limed with deft lines. Kowalski's sons and their families have little screen time, but it is enough to sketch a lifetime of disappointments and misfired parenting. The movie includes loads of politically incorrect name calling (gooks, zipperheads, slopes), though it seems tolerable and even comical from a man of painful secrets like Kowlaski.
All told, an engrossing tale that turns the Eastwood persona on its head while working it for all it's worth....more info
- Cliche' heaven
Cartoonish and laughable. Only actors were Clint and the barbershop guy. Rest were monotone readers. Could do same dialogue as "spoof" of Eastwood's other movies-tough guy vigilante-bad guys-gangs-over the top ethnic slang for almost every nationality and race. Clint could play role like "All in the family" character while other actors would be stupid comic types. I did laugh out loud at the stupid cliche' ridden dialogue and situations....more info
- The Best Movie Of 2009 .......... So Far!
Okay, so I know the year is only just getting started, but Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino right out of the gates is already the first truly great film of 2009. Clint Eastwood is firmly at the helm of this top-notch drama as both director and star. Not only is he fully capable of convincing you he's still one mean, tough son-of-a-gun at almost 79 years of age, but he directs with such razor-sharp clarity and focus when many other directors half his age have only blurry, half-hearted visions of where their movies are going.
I won't bother getting into covering the plot here this time around as other reviewers have already done a competent, commendable job of doing so. (I'll save that for the home dvd release, which I'll most certainly be buying!) I especially liked Eastwood's character of Walt Kowalski, as he is so gruff and cynical that he's actually comically endearing as a result. I kind of prefered to think of him as 'Dirty' Harry Callahan in retirement, or at least an extension. The gradually forming acceptance and bond between Walt and Thao as mentor and pupil really made the movie for me, and it's quite rewarding to watch.
The only element about this movie I don't like is the notion and sense that it's Clint's goodbye to acting. There's something in the structure and general feeling of Gran Torino similar to The Hunter (1980), Steve McQueen's somewhat elegaic final film. Although this would be quite a fine note to end his illustrious acting career on, it's still sad to think that this could be the last time we see Eastwood's trademark grimaces of indignant rage at injustice or stupidity. Hopefully Eastwood's not quite finished with his work in FRONT of the camera just yet.
This movie is fully deserving of its praise due to its excellent characterization and a climatic twist that was (in a good way) different than what I expected. I'm confident in declaring this Clint Eastwood's best movie of the past 15 years and I predict it will be remembered for years and years to come. Not to give anything away, but I felt the movie's ending and final scene in particular had a poignant, Brian's Song-like quality and feel to it, which welcomingly made it all the more bittersweet. Years from now, people will still be talking about this movie and remember it favorably as one of Eastwood's finest later performances. Superb drama. Be sure to see it. ...more info