Gran Torino

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Posted December 11, 2008 in Film

There are only two things to compliment about Gran Torino: It’s not as dull as The Changeling and it’s a great thesaurus for racists looking to expand their anti-Asian vocabulary past “gook.” Clint Eastwood’s second would-be 2008 Oscar contender will fare better in nominations if only because the staid Academy voters will quiver in their britches at the fear that Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski will whip out his shotgun. Eastwood plays Kowalski (the long lost brother of fellow sweetheart Stanley, one assumes) with a wink and a snarl that defeat screenwriter Nick Schenk’s vision of his film about a bitter Korean War vet in a gang-infested neighborhood of Hmong immigrants as a serious social problem film. It’s a touching movie for those suckered into thinking the similar-toned As Good as it Gets was meaningful. (Just sub out gay pride for Hmong pride, and romance for paternalism.) The first two-thirds play as comedy: Eastwood grumbles, curses, and insists on being a right bastard. When pissed, he pulls out his pistols; this is Dirty Harry gone geriatric, Eastwood parodying himself. Only it’s not a joke—or at least it’s not meant as one—and when Kolwalski’s neighbors Sue (Ahney Her) and Thao (Bee Vang) are terrorized by a thug named Spider (Doua Moua), the local priest (Christopher Carley) expects Kolwaski to act, and Eastwood expects us to cry. The priest immediately recants and pleas for peace. As for us, we never weep a tear. (Amy Nicholson)

 


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