Friday, January 16, 2009

Gran Torino: Eastwood's Swan Song

If you liked Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry, you'll probably love Gran Torino. If the Spaghetti Westerns that started him acting with the snarl as a permanent expression on his face, you like Grand Torino. After seeing Gran Torino I'm hoping this is Eastwood's last staring movie role. I never liked stereotypes. Never liked the snarling male as icon. And this is a film about that stereotype and stereotypes in general.

Phillip of Sitenoise wrote a partial review of the film but hated the beginning half hour of the movie so much he couldn't finish watching it. It's received some good reviews but I'm betting these are reviewers who just loved the Dirty Harry snarling male stereotype.

I didn't become an Eastwood fan until he began directing. He made a couple very good films as a director--his western The Unforgiven was worth watching. It wasn't the best western I'd ever seen, but it was pretty good. But it was Million Dollar Baby was so good I was prepared to believe that he would continue to make great movies. I figured he'd learned something about getting nuanced, sensitive performances from the other actors he was directing as well as from himself.

If Eastwood continues to make movies I hope it's in the capacity of Director. Think Letters from Iwo Jima. I wouldn't mind seeing him in a small cameo role with a bit more nuance than the snarling old bastard he plays in Gran Torino. But I think his days as central leading character are, and should be, over.

All of that said, I did begin crying toward the end of the movie and wondered what is was about the character at the end that made me weep. Nick and I talked about that, and Nick said, "You're affected and moved by almost everything right now." And maybe it's as simple as that. But this portrait of a man at the end of his life who views everything through the prism of prejudice, cynicism, and alienation is so very sad and not in a heart warming way.

I'm guessing there were clues to Eastwood's career in things like the 1972 cherry Ford Gran Torino that is his baby in the movie. High Plains Drifter came out in 1973, so there might be a bit of symbolism that he was making that film when Gran Torino's mean old bastard character was supposedly working on the assembly line for Ford the year the Gran Torino auto of the film refers to was made, but I'm stretching to give it a reason to have been made at all.

It is only the Hmong characters who form the core of his changing neighborhood, his changing world, the world he does not recognize and has such disdain for, who give really good performances.

I'd only give this film 2 stars at best, and that's a stretch.

9 comments:

Nan said...

So basically you're saying wait for the DVD and then check it out from the library?

Utah Savage said...

If that. I think if you loved Dirty Harry, you'll love this version of Dirty Harry. Other than that, I'd give it a pass. There are too many other good films to see this season.

The one I'm now really looking forward to is "Soloist" with Jamie Lee Fox and Robert Downey Jr.

giggles said...

I never did understand his growling affect... Thanks for that... I'll pass....I bet he should stick with strictly directing.....

Mauigirl said...

Thanks, now I don't feel the need to go see it. I actually did like Dirty Harry but I was about 20 at the time give or take a year, and he was young and good looking back then. I always did like that line that ended "Make my day." Now it would probably not do as much for me!

Randal Graves said...

I enjoy Dirty Harry, but I already have Dirty Harry if I want to see that. Oh well, at least you saved me 8 bucks.

Utah Savage said...

Glad to have saved any of you the buckage that tickets would cost. Save your money. This film is a pass until it ends up on TV for free.

themom said...

Thanx for the review. Think I too, will wait for the DVD. There hasn't been a movie in recent years, that I could not wait to see. Which is so unlike me. I grew up going to the movies regularly, and my son has inherited that love. Now, the expense keeps me away. Thanks again dear.

themom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
yellowdog granny said...

I still remember him as rowdy gates...i never liked the dirty hairy character..liked unforgiven, and for some reason..bronco billy..haha