Eastwood Makes Another Great Film
Clint Eastwood has played many characters over the years for the American culture to latch onto. He is a quintessential hero. He has played roles ranging from dessert riding cowboys, to a prize fighting rednecks, he's played a cop that totes a magnum and a boxing coach with a heart the size of Alaska. In every role Clint engages the audience with his trade mark scowl, and everyone knows that he is not one to mess around with. Clint is an icon of the American culture that will not soon be forgotten.
Clint is also a very talented director and has taken on the challenge of many different genres. Some of Clint's works as a director include the classic Pale Rider (1985), Bridges of Madison County(1995), and Million Dollar Baby (2004) which won six Oscars including Best accomplishment by a director. Clint not only directed and acted in all three of the fore mentioned, he also produced them, which is another one of his gifts. He has established himself very well in every aspect of Hollywood as a superb talent.
This past December Mr. Eastwood hit the screens again with his triple threat of actor, director, and producer. In his latest project by the name of Grand Torino he also wrote and sang the theme song. He seems to be a man of tired less talents and limitless vision.
Grand Torino will soon become an American classic that people will buy on DVD so that they can watch it over and over again. The movie is multi faceted in it's message. It definatly educates the viewer on many social issues including, race, class, and inner city violence. It also shows the importance of family, the virtues of living an honest life, and the difficulty of accepting things that you don't understand. I left the movie feeling good about sacrifice and melancholy about the way the world can be a cruel to the innocent.
In this movie Clint plays a Korean War veteran, by the name of Walt Kowalski, that has just become a widower and is discovering that he never really knew his own family. He is left to live alone in his house to live with the family dog Daisy. Stubborn and set in his old ways, with a diet consisting of Pabst Blue Ribbon and beef Jerky, Kowalski feels angst for his Hmong neighbors, and uses racial slurs to express nothing but animosity for them. Kowalski doesn't understand the state of his neighborhood, all of his old neighbors have left or died, and it has become a slum over the years, over run by gang activity. Combined with the loss of his wife and family, Walt's displeasure for the modern world has driven has driven him to the solitude of his front porch.
There is a sense of emptiness and hopelessness except for a young wide eyed priest (Father Janovich) played by Christopher Carley. Janovich promised Kowalski's wife that he would get Walt to go to confession before he died. Kowalski resist every attempt made by Janovich, siting his lack of experience, and the fact that Kowalski himself lacks a belief system that would support such activities. Janovich is persistent and plays a key role in Kowalski's awakening.
Two of my favorite characters in the movie are Kowalski's young Hmong neighbors, Thao Lor ( played by Bee Vang) and his sister Sue ( played by Ahney Her). They are both driven to achieve goals that will take them from the cycle that plagues their communty. At one point Sue explains to Kowalski that the all Hmong girls go to school and work for doctors and all the boys end up in jail. Kowalski becomes a hero to the Hmong community after saving Thao from an attack by his cousin and a gang of thugs that are trying to get Thao to join them in a life of crime.
At this point Kowalski is forced to see the beauty of a culture that he only thought of as an enemy. Sue plays a huge part in Walt's eventual acceptance of Hmong traditions and beliefs. Kowalski becomes close to the entire family and realizes that maybe he should be more open minded when it comes to other people. He continues to bond with the two young Hmong teens until they have a climactic confrontation with Thao's cousin and his group of thugs. In classic Eastwood tradition, Kowalski saves the day.
In the end I would say that Grand Torino is over all a classic Eastwood movie. It has a slow but effective build up to a heroic situation. It jerks the tears, and makes you laugh, at the same time as making get out of your seat to cheer for the hero. All the actors play their parts convincingly and the script delivers good messages of hope and acceptance. It's still safe to say that Eastwood is a name you can trust when it comes to Hollywood film making.
Out of Five stars I would give this film four.