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***Please welcome our newest Moviegasm (I know, it’s been awhile, eh?) contributor, The Ironist!
Get off my lawn!
by The Ironist
Once upon a time, aspiring screenwriter, Nick Schenk was in the mood to partake in some extremely ignorant literature. So he mozied on over to the one place that he believed could fulfill that need, his local public restroom. And considering the fact that only Klansmen and members of the Mormon Church (If I recall correctly the two groups usually go hand in hand) use public restrooms, he made the right choice. As he sat there with his pants around his ankles, attempting to get his poop on, he looked at the walls that surrounded him, and began to take in some of the very astute observations. Things like, “Fred is gay,” and “Brown people are the cause of all of society’s ills,” were written on that wall.
As he was doing this he was overcome with this indescribable sensation, one that echoed throughout his body. As it turned out he had a severe case of dysentery which he contracted on a recent trip to South America. Once it subsided, after a few weeks of oral rehydration therapy, he was overcome by another indescribable sensation, one that echoed throughout his body, except this time it wasn’t a disorder of the digestive system, he was overcome with inspiration, inspiration to tell a story.
That story was Gran Tornino, which some consider to be an adapted screenplay, primarily because two thirds of the film’s content was based entirely off of things that Nick Schenk saw written on the bathroom wall on that fateful day. The remaining third of the movie consists of Clint Eastwood shooting at people with his finger. Due to the onset of dementia Clint Eastwood didn’t actually realizes that he didn’t have a gun in his hand during these scenes, as far as he knew, he was on the set of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (they even let him wear the poncho in between the filming of scenes).
Gran Torino is the story of Walt Kowalski (Eastwood), a Korean war veteran, who is about as American as morbid obesity, which of course means that not only is he an alcoholic, but he is also extremely racist. His choice of rhetoric is not conducive to any kind of public discourse, unless of course he were at some sort of Nascar event. He uses so many racial slurs it would make a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon blush.
I am not at all offended by salty language, I love as a good derogatory comment as much as the next guy, even if it is directed towards me, but it is possible to over do it. Foul language exits as a way to emphasize a point. If someone were to ask you, “Are you excited for the Hannah Montana Movie?” and you were to respond by saying, “Fuck yeah!” instead of just, “Yeah!” Then that person would know that you were really excited for the Hannah Montana Movie. Over do foul language, and it loses all of it’s impact.
That’s what happened throughout Gran Torino, by no means was the language used subtle, it is as shamelessly overt as Jean Claude Van Dam’s acting style and more over the top than the 1987 Sylvester Stallone movie, Over the Top. It got to a point were it was just comical. Towards the second half of the movie, every time Eastwood’s character would spout out some new racial slur directed toward Asians, the theater would erupt in laughter. When Eastwood and company set out to make this movie, I don’t think they thought of it as a comedy, but for some reason Gran Torino got more laughs than a Dane Cook film.
Movies are supposed to invoke some sort of emotional response, but when the response is one that was not intended by the filmmaker, then the movie no longer becomes art, it becomes an accident, and a failure on the part of the filmmaker.
The film is straight up Eastwood-ian in every way. You get tons of shadow lighting, the story begins as well as ends with a character’s death, and Eastwood plays a character with a dark past they prefer not to remember, but is given the chance to redeem themselves. As the central character Eastwood delivers all of his lines without ever opening up his mouth and looks as if he is constantly staring into the sun (You would think that Clint Eastwood could afford a pair of Ray-Bans).
I personally didn’t care too much for the film, aside from watching a rheumatoid ridden Eastwood say, “Fuck me!” most of it is quite forgettable. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Just because you didn’t like the movie, doesn’t mean that I won’t!” Well to tell you the truth, you’re absolutely right, this is after all just one man’s opinion. For all I know you might watch Gran Torino and think that it’s the greatest movie of all time. Or you may watch it, and end up hating it even more than I did. So whether you plan to watch it in theaters, or wait for it to come out on DVD, before the opening credits roll, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?