Thursday, February 12, 2009

Gran Torino

Originally uploaded by Alessandra Ogeda
Walt Kowalski is a war veteran who feels like society around him has changed utterly and completely; his children think he is a burden, his priest doesn’t understand him and his old neighborhood has been populated by the Asian races he learned to despise when he fought overseas. However, while Walt will not be defeated in his personal mission to remain the same man he becomes shocked as events are set in motion that allow him to get to know his Hmong neighbors and the teenage children change his outlook on race and life.

Gran Torino is a movie that took me by surprise. I expected to like it, I did not expect to still be thinking about it a day after I first saw it. The film is haunting me in a very good way. I must say that my favorite visual item in the film is the American flag hung on Walt’s porch; this flag is not only used beautifully in the setting, but it is a subtle queue that sets Walt off from the rest of the neighborhood and clues the audience off as to Walt’s true character. Walt is a good old American man through and through and wants everyone around him to bleed American as well.

What Eastwood does as a director and actor in this film is absolutely amazing. Walt is man that for all intents and purposes you shouldn’t like; he is a cantankerous, racist, rigid man who does not want anyone to say or do anything that he thinks is out of the norm. By the end of the film Walt has transitioned and it feels completely natural because of the director and actor – Walt has finally come completely into himself and how he can matter in the present day amongst a world that he didn’t think he could understand or could understand him. My favorite scene is actually a simple one between Thao and Walt near the end of the film when Walt truly confesses to Thao and admits that Thao is his friend; the moment is both visually stunning and beautifully acted.

In the end I think that it is a true travesty that Gran Torino was utterly ignored by the academy voters. Every member of that cast and crew deserves some kind of recognition for the prolific piece of cinema that they created, one that will be remembered much longer than a film like Benjamin Button. I now have another film to add with The Dark Knight to my list of films that should have been up for best picture this year.

Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Nick Schenk
Walt Kowalski: Clint Eastwood
Father Janovich: Christopher Carley
Thao Vang Lor: Bee Vang
Sue Lor: Ahney Her:
Mitch Kowalski: Brian Haley
Karen Kowalski: Geraldine Hughes
Ashley Kowalski: Dreama Walker
Steve Kowalski: Brian Howe
Martin: John Carroll Lynch

Sue Lor: There's a ton of food.
Walt Kowalski: Yeah, well just keep your hands off my dog.
Sue Lor: No worries, we only eat cats.

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