Sunday, March 8, 2009
Day Forty-One: Gran Torino (2008) - Rank 4/5
The "I'm old and I'm pissed off!" mindset seemed to work pretty well for Clint Eastwood in "Million Dollar Baby." In fact, it worked for a great deal of Eastwood's career (though "I'm old" is not always applicable). So does it work for "Gran Torino?" Of course it does. Eastwood's got the schtick down pat, and when he's writing and directing his own material, he knows he'll be able to do it well. He throws out phrases like "Get off my lawn!" with the same sense of intimidation he had when he bombed the giant spider at the end of "Tarantula"........Movie Reference! As a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, he helps mold and protect the Vietnamese teens living next door, even after one of them bungles the theft of Eastwood's vintage Gran Torino, incurring the wrath of his gang.
However, unlike his previous films, Eastwood has cast a group of unknowns for his supporting cast (I only recognized the comedic genius Brian Howe as one of his sons...star of "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra"...no?). Granted, the script is dominated by Eastwood's character, Walt Kowalski, as it is, but the innocuous supporting cast seems to fade into the background whenever the writer/director/star is cursing, spitting, drinking or pulling guns on the movie...which is, in essence, the whole film. Kowalski is as bigoted as they come, spewing forth countless racial insults to a degree that's actually humorous (or at least to me. My sense of humor has issues, which explains the films I make or the simple fact that I was the only person in the theatre laughing. To hell with them all!). A drinking game that involved taking a drink of beer every time Kowalski utters an ethnic slur would certainly end in a trip to the emergency room, especially since you'd have to drink Kowalski's beer of choice: Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR was also the beverage of choice for "Blue Velvet's" Frank Booth. Hmm...methinks there's something in there that angers the blood. Perhaps I should test this hypothesis...purely in the name of science. After all, I am a scientist, professed in the science of scientific studies of science.
Anyway, watch the film for Eastwood's trademark, embittered, pistol-packing asskickery and love the film for the maturity he applies to his sense of justice and resolution. And then mock the film's supporting actor, Bee Vang, for his well-intentioned, but stilted, performance...over a twelve-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Watch the Trailer