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Gran Torino 2008

R CC

Clint Eastwood directs and stars as disgruntled veteran who sets out to reform his neighbor, a young teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.

Starring:
Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley
Runtime:
1 hour, 56 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Clint Eastwood
Starring Clint Eastwood, Christopher Carley
Supporting actors Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Brian Haley, Geraldine Hughes, Dreama Walker, Brian Howe, John Carroll Lynch, William Hill, Brooke Chia Thao, Chee Thao, Choua Kue, Scott Eastwood, Xia Soua Chang, Sonny Vue, Doua Moua, Greg Trzaskoma, John Johns, Davis Gloff
Studio Warner Bros.
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

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Throughout his illustrious acting career, Clint Eastwood has delivered a series of iconic characters, such as The Man with no name, Dirty Harry, Josie Wales, and Will Munny in Unforgiven.

Throughout his illustrious directing career he has delivered outstanding movies such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, for which he has won five Academy Awards, for best Picture, Best Director, and including the Irving Thalberg Life Achievement Award.

The actors who have worked with him have been blessed with Oscar: Gene Hackman for Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn for Mystic River, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby.

In Gran Torino he both directs and acts, and delivers an acting performance that will be remembered long after the final credits roll, in its unique way, as memorable as any other character he has created.

Gran Torino is the second best movie I have seen this year. Not just for the acting, not just for the directing, but for the storytelling, and the emotional journey on which it takes you, the laughter, the feeling of being gripped, and its more surprising moments.

In the opening scenes, we have the exposition of the character. We get to know Walt Kowalski, by how people act around him, and his seemingly hateful attitude towards people. More is conveyed through a scowl, and a snarl than with words. When the mischievous grandchildren go through his stuff in the basement, we see the Silver Star he won in Korea. There are three other important symbols in the movie, the lighter, the gun, and the car.

We see a hero with a warrior past, a patriot who fought for a cause greater than himself. Clearly, his bigotry stems from those experiences.
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People react strongly to "Gran Torino," either embracing its depiction of a flawed but heroic racist old coot, or deriding the movie simply because its apparent political incorrectness makes them nervous. But even if the Academy does not bestow one award on what is probably Clint Eastwood's last movie as an actor, remember this: "Gran Torino" is a more intelligent film on the state of race relations today than "Crash" (a multiple Oscar winner) ever pretended to be.

The story is about Walt Kowalski, a grizzled Korean War vet and widower who spends his time drinking, smoking, and polishing his 1972 Ford Gran Torino, a vintage example of Detroit muscle. Because he installed the car's steering column himself, the car represents not only a classically American fixation on the automobile, but also a blue-collar, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps work ethic, one that Eastwood himself would no doubt agree with. (If for some reason you don't believe me, read his "What I've Learned" interview in the latest issue of Esquire.)

Kowalski mentors an aimless Hmong teenager named Thao, who is being pressured to join his cousin's gang. This is where the "Karate Kid" comparison comes in, which is inaccurate, partly because the characters of "Gran Torino" exhibit considerably greater depth. The boy who plays Thao (and in fact all of the Hmong characters) is not a professional actor, so although his portrayal is sometimes rather wooden, there really isn't any substitute for authenticity. Eastwood came of age in an era when Hollywood produced war movies using, say, a Chinese actor to portray a Japanese soldier. It's clear from the casting of "Gran Torino" (and "Letters from Iwo Jima," for that matter) that Eastwood prefers to do things his own way.
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Can Clint Eastwood go wrong? After striking gold a few months ago with the brilliant "Changeling," he releases "Gran Torino," another one of the year's best films. What a masterful storyteller Eastwood is, so focused on creating that perfect balance between story and character. He doesn't disappoint with "Gran Torino," a nearly flawless film that gives us characters we believe in and a story so compelling that it's virtually impossible to not be absorbed by it. What we have here is a cross-generational, cross-cultural story about people who can learn so much from each other despite being different. It's about regret, sadness, redemption, and growth, which isn't to say that it's conventional or archetypal; Eastwood plays a contemporary version of a Wise Old Man, someone who draws on life experience to teach an undeveloped youth. What's unique is that, regardless of what life has taught him, this Wise Old Man still has a lot to learn.

He has a name, of course: retired Ford factory worker Walt Kowalski. As a veteran of the Korean War, Kowalski has seen and done a lot of things he wishes he hadn't. He's bitter, antisocial, and politically incorrect. After his wife's funeral, we discover that he doesn't get along too well with his sons, specifically Mitch (Brian Haley) and his wife, Karen (Geraldine Hughes), who seem to believe that his age automatically makes him codependent and eligible for a spot in a retirement home. His grandchildren don't appreciate him one bit; the granddaughter only wants his stuff, hand-me-downs to take with her to school. They don't make things easy for him, but then again, he doesn't make things easy for them, either. It's a vicious cycle of resentment and miscommunication.
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