Wednesday, January 07, 2009

GRAN TORINO

For a couple of years I've been watching a series on the History channel about gang life called GANGLAND. It's pretty amazing what goes on in gangs in almost every city, that most people never know about.

GRAN TORINO is an excellent film. It's one of Clint's best films as director or actor and very well written. The role is very different for Clint, he plays a old racist whose neighborhood has gone from white to Korean and overrun with gang activity. Although the character is painted with broad strokes at the beginning of the film, it's interesting to watch the character develop as he befriends a young Korean boy who lives next to him.

The film has its flaws. The third act seems to come out of the blue, and the tonal shift is jarring. Although life can be like that, especially when dealing with random gang violence, in the movie it seems awkward. And once the film shifts from "comical old geezer" to "elderly Dirty Harry," the actual ending seems inevitable and the twist is predictable.

However, there are many good things about the film. One example would be the relationship between Clint's character and the local priest.

BIG TIME SPOILERS! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE!

Clint's wife had left a dying wish for him to confess. Ultimately he does go to Catholic confession, but all he confesses is that he kissed a girl, neglected to declare $900 on his taxes, and was a crappy father. The audience knows that he is holding something back, he's repeatedly referred to something he did in the Korean war. A few scenes later, Clint gives his real confession to the young neighbor boy after he locks him in the cellar to prevent him from taking vengeance. Both confessional scenes are shot the same way, even though the location is different, through the confessional screen and through the screen he has put on the door to keep the boy in the basement. Well written, well acted, and well directed.

I highly recommend this film.
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