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Author Topic: Who saw GRAN TORINO? Members' Comments (WARNING: SPOILERS ALLOWED!)  (Read 29739 times)
KC
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« on: December 12, 2008, 03:20:55 PM »

With the gradual rollout, it will be a few weeks yet before many of us have a chance to see the film, but since it HAS opened in New York and L.A., I thought it was time to start the threads for members' comments!

In this thread, spoilers are allowed. Anyone who has seen Gran Torino and has more to say than can be safely posted in the "No Spoilers" thread, please give us your thoughts, comments or full-fledged review!

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Glenny
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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2008, 09:26:13 AM »

*SPOILERS*








Clint plays stubborn, angry old Korean war vet who spends his days sitting on his porch with his dog smoking cigarettes, chews tobacco, has a few beers and admirers his 1972 Gran Torino.
He asks his dog "Ain't she pretty?"  The movie opens with the funeral of his wife.  He was disgruntled even before her death.  Clint is described as still living in the 50's.  They way his grandchildren act in church
really pisses him off.  The fact that his son drives a foreign car pisses him off.  And the new Hmong family next door pisses him off.

He priest always asks him to come to confession...that really pisses him off.   He just wants to be left alone. One of the Hmong teenagers tries to steal his car.  That pushes him over the edge.   "The hell is it with kids nowadays?" he asks himself after an old women drops a bag of groceries and a few kids walk by like it never happened.  His character in this movie really hates how the world is today...and I don't blame him.  This movie has to be one of his best.  I can't wait for it to get released.  Even though I already saw it...I'd like to say I saw his final appearance in a movie theater.
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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2008, 05:31:11 PM »

Great movie all along...until the end. Too sad for my taste.
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2008, 07:52:13 PM »

It is also open here in Chicago.

I enjoyed the movie very much.  The criticisms of the bad acting by some of the folks I, for the most part, didn't find true - although when 'Toad' was locked up in the basement, his screaming to be let out was a little over the top.  I laughed when Eastwood threatened his real life son in that small scene.  Re: the ending - I was reminded of The Shootist, Wayne's last film.  While Wayne also chose to go out also in a blaze of glory, Eastwood chose not to take anyone with him like Wayne did.  While I get what he did & why he did it the way he did, I found it an interesting choice.  And I must say it was quite weird seeing Eastwood in a casket - made me dread the day when he actually does leave us.
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Chessie
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2009, 04:34:33 PM »

So despite the fact that I'm so incredibly busy, I did make time on my day off to see this.  I went with two of my guy friends who neither thought that Clint was all that amazing.  Then we saw this and they suddenly realized all these years that my unbelievable love and appreciation of Clint was not some fanatical, crazy notion, but rather a well thought out, sincere, and respectable love for a master of cinema.  Needless to say the loved the film as did I.  Fortunately now because of this film, I've managed to create two more Clint fans. 

As for what I thought about the film.  I really truly enjoyed the story.  I thought it had a very good arc in terms of character, Clint's character, Walt, has perhaps one of the most challenging issues to confront (in relation to what's important to him), and Clint manages to portray the change of heart in a subtle, and slightly comedic but not over the top way.  His performance seems to echo a combination of Dirty Harry and Frankie Dunn (Million Dollar Baby).  So I think for the fans who do appreciate Clint and his huge body of work the film is very gratifying because in a way it is like reliving Dirty Harry, but we get dive more in depth with him like we do in Million Dollar Baby.   

In terms of the the actual story, I thought it was very well written.  I wouldn't of expected that Michigan there would be such an issue with gangs, but it seems to be a prevalent issue in the country that is probably facing more areas than we could realize.  And, in many ways I felt that the story was a more of a sociological allegory for the changing times that we are now facing in our country politically, racially, and just the general generational gap.   But, within the actual movie itself and not looking too deep into the possibly political subtext of it, the conflict I feel is very strong thus when the dramatic scene came about it did not seem over the top.  There were very powerful and almost terrifying scenes in the film, especially the scene where Sue comes into her house bloodied and beaten.  That scene, for me, was absolutely terrifying.  As well the ending scene where Walt dies, was superbly written, though I do have to say the Christ-like death of Walt and symbolism in that scene was a little heavy handed, but the point was made.  Also the script had a nice blend of drama and comedy.  I've always thought Clint was very good at being comedic while still maintaining a strong, masculine personality, Dirty Harry again is another perfect example of that.  The book ends of the funeral and the reflections of life and death summed the movie up well, and gave a nice almost peaceful feeling at the beginning and end, which I think is important since the drama is so high for a good part of the movie.

I thought Clint's direction was very good.   I think those of us who have watched Clint's film for a long time it's very easy to see his style in the film, it's all very clean cut.  As well the use of lighting and camera work is like how Clint normally does his films.  So in terms of direction for me it didn't blow my mind, but perhaps I'm more use to his style.  I think though for my friends they were more stunned about how the film was directed since it was so clean and no scene went to waste.  Both of them are film majors, but Clint's style is really truly unique, and something that they don't see much of, especially since generally now in film classes we're forced to watch this "surrealist, post modernism, art pieces" which really have no substance, but are praised for the great cinematography thus making it a master piece.  So this film ended up being more of a reality check that there are actually stories out there that are powerful and aren't just about pretty shots. 

While I don't believe Clint will win an Oscar or anything for this performance I do think that it is one of his best.  For the fans who have watched him all this time, like I said before it is very gratifying.  Seeing the depth of characters Clint has played over the year, it all is pretty much summed up in Walt, he sings in the credits.  And, for Clint I think it is a worthy film for him to end his acting career with, even if I do secretly wish he would do another western. 

The film is powerful and it is a very worthy piece of cinema.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2009, 04:43:53 PM by Chessie » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2009, 07:57:29 PM »

Ok, so if it is similar to the shootist, I assume he sets up a situation where he knows there is a good chance he will be killed.  Would anyone care to elaborate? 
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KC
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2009, 10:05:08 PM »

Not till you've seen it! 

I know this is the "spoilers" thread, but we're not going to tell you everything. ;)
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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2009, 02:50:04 PM »

Not till you've seen it! 

I know this is the "spoilers" thread, but we're not going to tell you everything. ;)

Ok, it never hurts to ask.  For some weird reason, it has never lessened the thrill for me to hear details about movies before I see them.  Maybe that's the teacher in me;  to me, it sets the stage for watching it.  I plan to see it as soon as possible.  Could you at least tell me if him getting killed brings about a good change among the gangs, or is it just a sad event.  I'm a slow absorber; I'll probably have to watch it three or four times before I get everything that's going on. ;D
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KC
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« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2009, 08:06:25 PM »

I think it's safe to say that Walt deliberately sacrifices himself to bring about a change in the community, and there is reason to hope he succeeds.
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iconfan
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« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2009, 07:35:40 PM »

An interesting note is that up until TODAY where it goes "wide" for all to see it's been playing mostly in New York and L.A. and JUST in 84 theaters (as I said...UP UNTIL today) and it's raked in $ 9,820,000 bucks
Surely this weekend will add at least 30 to 40 million (maybe even 60 million) to that total
As with many films, the first weekend is usually the important one but after that...word of mouth gives the film it's "legs" and with such a limited number of screens bringing in that much cash I should think that the ending does in fact bring some sort of change to the community    -- if it were  bad ending (above and beyond the character dying) (and Clint HAS done some bad endings) the word of mouth would have slowed the momentum of the boxoffice receipts (though thats my opinion)

I had read one negative review that did mention that though the reviewer didnt like the film as a whole , he think the ending was very original and not the "ordinary" ending one would expect from an Eastwood film

I havent yet seen it but plan to soon
and yes I am one of those strange folks who likes to know all the behind the scenes during the filming and know the ending before I see if possible-- I even go buy the book version (since many times there are extra moments in the text that explain some scenes in the film better) and now I know the ending of this and for me (it's not for everyone of course) but for me it will only add to the whole experience of my viewing of what may well be Eastwood's final acting role and I've been following him since they had Dirty Harry/Magnum Force double features in the local theaters here

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Richard Earl
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« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2009, 10:56:51 PM »

I called my father earlier this week and asked him if he wanted to see Gran Torino with me. He drove in from Dallas and we caught the 7:30 showing. Wow! I have too many emotions going on right now after seeing the film. This is up there with Unforgiven for me. I absolutely loved this movie. I will say that I believe this is Clint's finest acting performance in my opinion. The character of Walt is incredibly believable and likable as the story unfolds. I did not find myself thinking 'that was a good one Clint" or "that is what Harry,Gunny, or Will Munny would have done" but I was finding myself totally intrigued with Walt and his life. The ending through me off and ticked me off when Walt gets shot. When it unfolds to what he was doing I loved it. My body was so damn tense after the film that I had a hard time walking out of the theater.  The first Eastwood movie that I ever saw was Bronco Billy with my dad. It was cool to watch Gran Torino with him at the theater 28 or 29 years later. I told him that.
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2009, 03:39:56 AM »

I called my father earlier this week and asked him if he wanted to see Gran Torino with me. He drove in from Dallas and we caught the 7:30 showing. Wow! I have too many emotions going on right now after seeing the film. This is up there with Unforgiven for me. I absolutely loved this movie. I will say that I believe this is Clint's finest acting performance in my opinion. The character of Walt is incredibly believable and likable as the story unfolds. I did not find myself thinking 'that was a good one Clint" or "that is what Harry,Gunny, or Will Munny would have done" but I was finding myself totally intrigued with Walt and his life. The ending through me off and ticked me off when Walt gets shot. When it unfolds to what he was doing I loved it. My body was so damn tense after the film that I had a hard time walking out of the theater.  The first Eastwood movie that I ever saw was Bronco Billy with my dad. It was cool to watch Gran Torino with him at the theater 28 or 29 years later. I told him that.

I love your comments Richard Earl !
And I'm sure I will feel the same emotion when I see it on screen, the 25th of February !
Lucky man ... you saw that  film with your Dad ...
The first Eastwood film I saw was with my Dad  too "The Good The Bad and The Ugly", one of my best memories !
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2009, 07:40:40 AM »

I saw it last night and really liked it.  The theater was almost full.  I'll probably have more to say after it digests.  Someone mentioned that it reminded them of the "Shootist."  My wife mentioned that when he was coughing.  I'm looking forward to renting it so I can hear all of it.  I loved the comments as did the rest of the audience.  Clint would say something and the audience would roar with laughter an drown out the next few seconds of dialogue.  I wonder where the other actors came from; some of them seemed a bit green.  Someone else posted that there was scattered applause when the movie was over.  When we left, it was really quiet in the theater.  I think that final scene was a bit rough for some. 
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Dan Dassow
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2009, 08:20:00 AM »

...  I wonder where the other actors came from; some of them seemed a bit green.  ... 

According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gran_Torino_(film)#Casting which cites

Asian Week link
Eastwood’s Next Film Features Hmong American Cast: Exclusive Interviews From the Set of ‘Gran Torino’
October 3, 2008

Quote
The film features a leading cast made up almost entirely of Hmong actors, unprecedented for a mainstream American film. Open casting calls for Hmong actors were held in Hmong communities in Saint Paul, Fresno and Detroit. All but one of the ten Hmong leads were acting in a film for the first time, as were many of the Hmong extras. For authenticity, Eastwood encouraged ad-libbing among the actors in the Hmong language.

See also Topic: GRAN TORINO: Reviews and Features in the Media:

Sun Times link
January 3, 2009
BY MARK SHANAHAN

Quote
...

Q. Many in the cast were acting for the first time. Was that difficult? Eli Wallach, who worked with you on "Mystic River," said you just told him to come to Boston for the day, and then you started shooting. Is that really the way you work?

A. It depends on the situation. First-time actors are different than Eli Wallach, who's the consummate old pro. With these kids, we'd talk about the sequence and a few things and sometimes we'd roll film when they didn't know it. They thought we were rehearsing. You don't always use the material, but you hate to leave a good take on the floor.

...

Minnesota Public Radio link

KARE-11 Minneapolis-St. Paul link

Star Tribune Minnapolis-St. Paul link
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Fhil
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2009, 11:18:11 AM »

I called my father earlier this week and asked him if he wanted to see Gran Torino with me. He drove in from Dallas and we caught the 7:30 showing. Wow! I have too many emotions going on right now after seeing the film. This is up there with Unforgiven for me. I absolutely loved this movie. I will say that I believe this is Clint's finest acting performance in my opinion. The character of Walt is incredibly believable and likable as the story unfolds. I did not find myself thinking 'that was a good one Clint" or "that is what Harry,Gunny, or Will Munny would have done" but I was finding myself totally intrigued with Walt and his life. The ending through me off and ticked me off when Walt gets shot. When it unfolds to what he was doing I loved it. My body was so damn tense after the film that I had a hard time walking out of the theater.  The first Eastwood movie that I ever saw was Bronco Billy with my dad. It was cool to watch Gran Torino with him at the theater 28 or 29 years later. I told him that.
This is a wonderful post Richard.

I saw it yesterday and absolutely loved it as well.  I think the more I think about it, and think about how the end relates to some of his actions (some of the foreshadowing) I like it even more.  And Clint was amazing in it of course.
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Perry
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2009, 02:41:35 PM »


Just from yesterday at the box office GT has already doubled its gross at $20 Mill. Clint has a winner on his hands.
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2009, 10:23:13 PM »

Does anybody feel like discussing the ending?  I really liked it, especially thinking back on it afterward.  I wasn't sure what was going to happen so the events leading up to the finale were pretty ambiguous for me.  I liked how he got the shave and bought a fitted suit.  What does everybody think about the quote, "Whatever it is... they won't stand a chance..."?  It seems to go much deeper than just getting the gang arrested.  Also, did anyone else think the way his body was positioned as sort of a crucifix when the camera pulled back after he was shot?  I'd really enjoy hearing your thoughts.
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KC
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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2009, 10:46:09 PM »

Several reviewers have commented on that "crucifix" position, usually to complain that it was "over the top." The man fell down dead; should he have taken care to fold his arms over his chest as he went down? Anyway, that shot showed him with his feet at the top of the frame, so if there is an allusion to anyone's crucifixion here, it would be St. Peter's, who according to tradition ...

Quote
was crucified upside down since he deemed himself unworthy of being crucified as was our Lord.



http://spsseminarians.blogspot.com/2008/06/quo-vadis.html

http://www.bible-researcher.com/quovadis.html
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Fhil
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2009, 11:15:47 PM »

That's a very good point KC.  I was by no means criticising it! :D  I think it's a bold choice, but not a bad one if Clint did indeed choose to do that.
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2009, 11:39:33 PM »

I saw  Gran Torino again tonight, and I'm happy to report that it does hold up quite well on a second viewing. I also felt some of my earlier complaints about the movie softening. The non-actors and other supporting performances did not detract from my enjoyment of the film too much the second time around. I even found myself liking the end credits song a lot more as I began to think of it in context.

Gran Torino is an important film. It has a lot to say about race, class, political correctness, redemption, and sacrifice. Although it is at times very comedic, comedy is used not as an end in itself but as a vehicle to engage in the type of discussion about race and prejudice that many people may otherwise find uncomfortable. It's done surreptitiously, but the themes and social commentary are unmistakable and clearly intentional. It is a condemnation of the political correctness in our society that has led many to become fearful of saying anything even remotely controversial, or of expressing something in anything but the most socially appropriate manner. The film makes clear that by doing this we draw further and further apart from each other rather than closer together. If Walt had not been so brazen in his use of these terms, and if he simply hid the way he felt about the people in the neighborhood, the opportunity for growth would be completely lost, as it is impossible to rectify something we don't acknowledge and which other people cannot see. If Sue was not able to put aside Walt's constant invective in service of seeing the whole person, she wouldn't have been able to realize that at heart he was a good man.

The priest's constant cajoling of Walt to talk about life and death is another example of the broader theme, that it's important to talk about what is otherwise unacknowledged in order to promote growth, understanding, and connection between people. Discussion of complex emotional issues or the troubles all of us have in our lives often go unexpressed, which again, I believe, leads us all to grow further apart and is an impediment to the appreciation of our common humanity.

Many of the themes of Eastwood's previous work are here, and Gran Torino is again a meditation on the costs of violence. Personally, Walt is haunted by his actions in the war and his usage of violence to achieve his ends, though I think he's also haunted by his usage of violence as a tool to protect the neighborhood. By exacting violent retribution for the earlier assault on Thao, he makes the problem worse. Without his violent intervention, it is doubtful that the gang would have taken the extreme step to brutally beat and rape Sue, or shoot up the family home. They would likely not have left the family alone, but they likely would not have initiated such a rapid escalation in their terror tactics but for Walt's intervention. Walt realizes this, and this, along with his desire to redeem himself for his previous moral transgressions in the name of country, is why he ultimately decides to sacrifice himself. In the end, Walt realizes that violence begets violence, and that he couldn't save the neighborhood by killing more people. More profoundly, Walt comes to appreciate that even if he could, that he doesn't want to. In his ultimate act of love, compassion, and self-sacrifice, he allows himself to be killed in such an ingenious way that there would be enough evidence to put all the thugs and criminals in jail for life. In this way, the climax of this film completes the trajectory that Unforgiven started, but never quite finished. In this one, he rejects the violence that William Munny embraced in a similar circumstance, when he exacted violent retribution for the murder of his friend.

Some have said that this was unrealistic, and a step Walt didn't need to take, but rather than being an outlandish exercise in convention, I believe it speaks to the reality of the circumstances in many communities. Often, due to fear of retribution, crimes go unreported, and even when they do, there is often insufficient evidence to convict those responsible. By sacrificing himself, Walt insures, as he says, that "what needs to be done will be done."

In addition to having powerful social commentary, this is also a character study of Walt Kowalski, and I find it interesting that what drives Clint to help is not so much love and compassion as much as social responsibility and the desire to promote order and mitigate chaos. In the beginning at least, Walt doesn't help because he sees the humanity in his neighbors next door but because he can't stand to sit by and watch chaos reign. When he sees the black gang members harassing Sue, he knows that he can stop it, and he knows that failure to do so would allow chaos to continue to manifest. This is something he cannot tolerate. When he fixes the washer, the sink, and the fan, he does so because he can't bear to see things not work as they should. When he excoriates Thao and lets him know that he's blowing it with Yua, he does so not because he likes Thao, but because he knows she likes him and can't bear to see things fail to go as he feels they should. When he helps Thao get a job in construction, he knows Thao can do it, and that Thao should, and that he can make it happen. He can't bear to allow all of Thao's promise to go to waste because in the society he has created for himself in his head, that's not how it's supposed to be, and Walt is committed to helping to bring his idealized version of his society as close to reality as he can make it, at least for those who he is in contact with and has influence over. All of these actions promote order and reduce chaos. His final act in the neighborhood fits this same pattern. By sacrificing himself, he "finishes things" and in doing so promotes order, reduces chaos, and provides the ultimate balance back to the neighborhood.

In many of Eastwood's recent films, I have felt they were too depressing or tragic to be fully enjoyed. I appreciated some of the themes they dealt with and was impressed by Eastwood's execution, though in the end, I didn't fully embrace them on an emotional level. Mystic River was too downbeat and cynical, Million Dollar Baby was sympathetic to something I fundamentally disagreed with, and was unbelievably sad, Changeling was melodramatic and overwhelming, but Gran Torino, is different. Although like those other films, it ultimately ends in tragedy, it is not predominantly a sad film. It has a nice balance of humor and drama, and even in the sad moments, the tragedy ultimately brings a resolution and balance to the neighborhood, that is in fact quite hopeful and uplifting, and could not in my estimation be accomplished in any other way. Gran Torino also promotes values of redemption and self-sacrifice, which I wholeheartedly believe in, so it worked amazingly well as a reinforcement of values and ideals that I myself hold dear.

For any Eastwood fan, Gran Torino is a must see.   
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