Jul 3, 2009

Gran Torino


One of the benefits of my career change to stay-at-home-dad has been my renewed opportunity for watching movies. Back when I was working for the man I was probably digesting maybe one movie a month. A single Netflix envelope would collect dust next to the TV for months at a time. And even when I did watch something, it sometimes took two or three viewings to take in a whole movie. I hate breaking up movies like that. You lose too much meaning, especially when you spread a film out over days or weeks. I think There Will Be Blood took me a month to watch. (Though that was partially because I was forcing myself to finish a movie that had captured very little of my interest.)

Now that I'm staying home I've been able to get back into my flick habit. It's not that I can watch movies all day (HA!) but our evenings are a little freer. Dinner is done earlier. Baths are taken sooner. And kids are asleep before sundown. Which actually leaves us with some precious free time in the late evenings.

Gran Torino was my latest indulgence. Amidst a marathon series of Hollywood blockbusters I'm watching this year, Torino was the perfect hydration station. First, it was nice just to watch a movie where nearly all the scenes took place in just a handful of locations. Nothing flew. Nothing exploded. There was a story. (I had nearly forgotten that movies have plots.) It's your usual story of two people, misfits in their own right, who, despite their paramount differences, find solace and friendship in each other. You know, you're typical Clint Eastwood film. Actually, I think this might be a remake of the Fox and the Hound. Except where the hound is an alcoholic, racist, Korean War vet and the fox is an awkward, bumbling, teenaged son of Asian immigrants. Definitely a remake. The story builds to an intense climax that was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Michael Bay would have taken it in a different direction and the whole time I was worried that that was where we were headed. But, thankfully, it was an Eastwood film and he did the right thing. Except for the crucifix imagery. That was a little canned.

From an acting standpoint, no real complaints. Some of the novice acting gave it a little bit of an artsy or independent vibe. Clint himself is old as dirt which is exactly what his role required. And apparently it also required that he have his jaw wired shut. Despite speaking through his teeth, Clint's character was someone I could identify with on some strange level. In looks and crankiness he reminded me of a steroidal, racist mash up of my father and both of my grandfathers. The film's neighborhood also had a crankiness to it that I appreciated. The neighborhood and homes may as well have been taken straight from the East Dayton street where I spent my early years. The same plain houses (American Foursquare style?), stacked on top of each other, with a detached garage around back. It was actually quite nostalgic.

So it was good movie, maybe even purchase worthy. But enough with the refreshment, now back to the grind. Bring on Scarlett and the Baroness.

2 comments:

Trike said...

It was definitely much better than I had expected. The scene in the barbershop with the kid was worth the price of rental by itself.

The crucifixion allusion was pretty obvious, but it was also upside down. Peter was crucified upside down, so it may have been a reference to that.

I'd have to see it again to see if Walt's cantankerous diatribes against the Church in general and the young priest in particular happened three times. That would certainly underscore the Peter allusion.

(Because Peter denied Jesus three times, yet later became the leader of burgeoning Christianity. And the Catholic Church calls Peter the first Pope, which is why the Pope's chair has an upside down cross on it. It's a whole Catholic subtext.)

James said...

I didn't think of the Peter reference but you might be right. He probably did deny the priest three times.