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t3knomanser's Fustian Deposits

Gran Torino

How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

run the fuck away

Mad science gone horribly, horribly wrong(or right).

Gran Torino

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As miusheri said, we went out to see Gran Torino tonight. This afternoon, actually. I was stunned to find that the 1:45 showing was still counting as a matinee- I thought that, nowadays, matinees ceased with the first showing. I'm not complaining- $5 tickets on a lazy Sunday afternoon are nothing to complain about.

The film was excellent. You'll hear a lot of complaints about the acting, and they're not unwarranted. A lot of the Hmong actors were pretty bad*. That's okay though, because Clint Eastwood was ready to carry the whole damn movie on his own. As Minna said, it wasn't a film with a lot of surprises to it. You knew where it was going to go the whole time; each beat was planned out and scheduled according to the pattern of this sort of film.

And that's fine. It's okay to use a formula and cliches, especially if you do them well. For all that there were plenty of weak points in the script and the acting, it was well executed and enjoyable. The film hung together not on the strength of the plot or the drama, but the comedic moments.

And of course, the septuagenarian Eastwood as Walt Kowalski brandishing an M1 and growling, "Get off my lawn!" is reason enough to turn out for the movie. And for manycolored, there's this exchange:

(while discussing why the Hmong were relocated to the US)
Sue: Blame the Lutherans.
Walt: Everybody blames the Lutherans.

And to round out the beginning and the end of Eastwood's career, Minna and I watched A Fistful of Dollars last night. I had only seen bits and pieces, she had never seen any of it. An obvious classic, and it's worth noting that the same complaints people have about Gran Torino apply to that film as well. It's also obvious that Eastwood learned quite a bit about using the camera from Leone, although he doesn't have the same flair for the melodramatic.

*Most of the Hmong actors were locals that had never been in anything before. These people playing relocated Hmong trying to navigate American culture were actually Hmong trying to navigate American culture. There's an authenticity that can't be gotten by shipping 50 Asian actors from LA to Detroit.
  • There was a huge Hmong population in St. Paul. The only way you could be a bad Hmong actor is if you showed any emotions beyond a twinkle in your eye. I think it was part genetic and part cultural, but I had a Hmong friend who used to joke about it all the time. "But I am excited, can't you tell?"

    Your icon kicks ass.
    • I think that was a big part of it- everything was very dry. And I think, several of the sections where the actor seemed just very uncomfortable and stilted was actually intentional. There's an awkward scene where Eastwood's character takes his Hmong protege to a barbershop and everything seemed a few beats off.

      Interesting factoid: Eastwood encouraged the Hmong to ad-lib in their own language.

      And I'm glad someone else appreciates the glory that is Megaweapon.
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