Tuesday 29 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Action · Gran Torino

Gran Torino

None January 15th, 2009


From his early days as a Western TV and movie star to his "Dirty Harry" cop dramas to his more philosophical turns in movies like "Million Dollar Baby," tough guy-style violence has been Clint Eastwood's primary thematic calling card.

Earlier movies, especially the "Dirty Harry" ones, tended to treat swift, unmerciful vigilante violence as a practical way to cut the Gordian knot of due process and punish bad guys sooner, rather than later. But starting in the 1990s with "Unforgiven," that message became tempered with the idea that violence is a temporary solution that begets more violence, destroying not only physical being, but also the metaphysical being of its practitioners.

"Gran Torino" is of the latter type. Eastwood directs and stars as Walt Kowalski, a newly widowed veteran who wants to spend his life's waning right where he spent its waxing: in his own old house, in his own old neighborhood. Along with his wife, Walt's kids and his old neighbors have left him to sit on the porch, grumbling about the old days.

Walt also alienates people with his old-school brand of quaint, 1950s-style racism that is highly anachronistic, but still insulting. When ethnic minorities start populating his Detroit neighborhood, Walt keeps to himself, and doesn't get involved with the "zipperheads," as he calls them.

Then one night, young next-door-neighbor, Thao (Bee Vang), has a scuffle with his cousin's gang. The gang enlisted him to steal Walt's prized 1972 Gran Torino, which Thao failed to do. After a pair of Walt's garden gnomes are broken, he drives off the gang members with his service rifle. Naturally, the gang swears revenge.

For his act of heroism, the Southeast Asian neighbors befriend Walt. Sue (Ahney Her), Thao's sister, takes Walt under her wing, introducing him to the neighborhood he's been trying to ignore.

Walt, Thao and Sue establish a constructive friendship. Unfortunately, vengeful gangs rarely fail to address slights to their dignity, and whatever peace Walt finds among his new friends is short-lived.

While "Gran Torino" is well-intentioned and could have conveyed a profound, if slightly predictable, message of cultural tolerance, personal salvation and general anti-violence, the job is mucked up by scriptwriter Nick Schenk, whose most prominent credit to date is "Factory Accident Sex" (aka "The Best of Dr. Sphincter"). Schenk's sense of narrative structure is choppy and amateurish, and his dialogue is often as wooden as Walt's front porch. Schenk's love of genre clich

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