Monday, 16 March 2009

Gran Torino

Gran Torino, the Clint Eastwood movie, was another in the list of top movies from 2008 that I didn't see in 2008. It didn't get nominated for any Oscars, but it did get bandied around a few of the awards lists, mostly for acting (Eastwood).

Eastwood doesn't act as much as he used to, although he has done some good stuff (Million Dollar Baby). As a director, he's done some very, very good films (MDB, Mystic River, Unforgiven, Iwo Jima). I would argue, in fact, that he's turned into a more skilled director than actor, notwithstanding my view that some of the films he acted in - the Leone films, Dirty Harry - might be better than those he's directed.

Anyhoo, I'm spending a lot of time talking about Eastwood's past, and not a lot about this film. That's probably because I found this a bit underwhelming, and I prefer to remember him for his other stuff. The plot is ambitious in a way, I guess, dealing with the changing of generations as Eastwood gets old, and the intermixing of race (Hmong/White) and lifestyle (families/gangs) in suburbia. Perhaps this is the problem with Eastwood as the lead. I felt he was a little bit one-dimensional as the grizzly old man. Maybe this is his baggage as an actor - he felt like a retired Harry Callahan - or maybe its a lack of range - he was never the most chameleon of performers. Anyway, the upshot is that I didn't quite buy the performances, either Eastwood's or the others, and that hurt the film for me.

I read that back, and it sounds like I'm panning this film. I suppose its important to say that I didn't mind this film. It bounces along, and the ending is slightly surprising, but does make sense in the context of the film. It arcs nicely enough, and it has something worthwhile to say. Its a pleasant watch.

It isn't, though, a great film - it didn't make me feel anything very strong, one way or another, and for me that's the mark of a great film, it sucks you into its world, and makes you feel something.

1 comment:

Afe said...

Get off my lawn.