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Gran Torino (Widescreen Edition)
Gran Torino
Widescreen Edition
Actors: Clint Eastwood, Brian Haley, Christopher Carley, Geraldine Hughes
Director: Clint Eastwood
Genres: Drama
R     2009     1hr 56min

A disgruntled Korean War vet, Walt Kowalski (Eastwood), sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal Kowalski's prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.

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Movie Details

Actors: Clint Eastwood, Brian Haley, Christopher Carley, Geraldine Hughes
Director: Clint Eastwood
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/09/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 12/17/2008
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 56min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 19
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 9/7/2012...
Really great acting! Also was surprised by the ending!
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
William F. (furmage) from APPLE VALLEY, CA
Reviewed on 6/7/2011...
Get of my lawn, Great movie, I bought it to keep.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Casey H. (Gnives) from BALDWYN, MS
Reviewed on 6/7/2011...
This man will destroy your retirement community with an SKS in one hand and a beer in the other.
1 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Reviewed on 5/23/2011...
Clint Eastwood's 'Gran Torino,' is a fine unpretentious elegy to lives lived in the Rust Belt of the Midwet and the death of the American Dream. Released for Christmas 2008, it was a huge low-budget hit that shone amidst the rest of the usual big-budget glitz, special effects studio monsters. Yes, another triumph for its 78-year-old director and star. Eastwood's performance as Walt Kowalski, a retired Ford assembly line worker, "a mean old Polack" as his barber buddy calls him, transcends cliché. What starts out as a kind of familiar handsome bigot--kind of a sexy, semi-cadaverous Archie Bunker--Eastwood's performance as Kowalski slowly peels like an onion, thanks to a fine script by Nicholas Schenk, leaving the audience with a naked humanist bereft of all hope. In as much as 'Unforgiven' was a brilliant reflection of Clint Eastwood's legacy as a star in the Western genre, 'Gran Torino' works as a sort of parallel self-critique of the urban policeman, guardian-at-the-gates-of hell heritage of 'Dirty Harry' and its sequels. Eastwood would probably hate me saying this, but Eastwood--speaking as quietly as ever--subtly rants about the state of a mortally wounded American Dream, and what seems to have gone wrong with the family and working class society in general, spiritually, racially, and economically. This may make the film sound boring and cumbersome, but the tale is told with a wink and a wry grin. It' been a long time since I've seen racially-charged comedy hijinx work, but because the performances of the cast are so well modulated, it works.

Walt Kowalski is a retired widower, a Korean War veteran, and the last white resident of a Detroit neighborhood where his neighbors are mostly Hmong. Everything irritates him awful yuppified his blood kin or the Hmong families who are his new neighbors. Kowalski's a racist, but no more than his neighbors. But fate throws the teenagers next door, the ultra spunky Sue (Ahney Her) and her nervous wreck of a brother Thao (Bee Vang) into his path. Walt, more perhaps out of boredom than benevolance, rescues them from trouble and finds he has unwittingly made himself a sortof hero among the Hmong comunity.

I won't give away much more because it will kill the plot. Suffice to say that Eastwood does not serve up the usual denouement we expect. The trajectory of all of it is so simple, yet surprising.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

It's not about the car....
L. Power | San Francisco | 12/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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.

He's not just mean, he's 'get of my lawn' mean. He's Dirty Harry 'Go ahead punk, make my day!,' mean.

His dead wife's priest bugs him to hear his confession, at her request. The priest in a way is his wife's conscience.

When he snarls down the barrel of his rifle, at the neighborhood punk: 'I could blow your head off, and sleep like a baby,' you get the sense that he means it.

So, with all that happens, we see the change in his decision making, from someone reluctant to be involved in his neighbor's affairs, and a story can turn on something as random as looking at an empty beer cooler.

For all his faults, Walt has mature masculine character. Even though he is a difficult father, he has taught his children character. So, when he sees the boy next door lacks character, and a strong male role model, he takes him under his wing, and teaches him how to be a man.

The scenes where the boy practises Walt's high octane ball busting banter, are the funniest in the movie. Through knowing Walt, he makes decisions he never would have made by himself. In so doing, Walt finds meaning and purpose, and a chance for redemption, and the boy becomes a man.

The Academy's actor awards tend to go to actors in two types of role:

1.Psychopath- No Country for Old Men, The Usual Suspects, There Will Be Blood, Training Day, Silence of the Lambs.

2.Mentally Disabled, Social or Physical Handicap, overcomes great adversity or discrimination- Shine, As Good as It Gets, A Beautiful Mind, Ray, Scent of a Woman, Capote, Philadelphia, The Pianist, A Beautiful Life.

Every rule has an exception. Russell Crowe in Gladiator played a character with thematic similarities to Walt.

For a 78 year old man to direct and be lead actor in a movie of this caliber is an achievement worthy at the very least of being nominated for the highest award for Acting, Directing or both.

I hope you find this review helpful.

A Better Movie about Racism than "Crash"
Erik R. Olson | Dublin, CA, United States | 01/05/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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.

Kowalski makes fun of Thao (calling him "Toad"), but also teaches the boy how to earn an honest living. In the process, he becomes closer to Thao's family than he is to any of his own kin, who have degenerated into a distant, crass, materialistic clan of their own, far removed from the values Kowalski attempted to pass on.

The steady stream of racist epithets in "Gran Torino" will cause some people to laugh uncomfortably, others to laugh with delight, and still another group to glare at those who are laughing. Ultimately, however, this unsettling portrayal of one man's deep prejudices evolves into a different story altogether. It is not possible to show the audience a path away from a racist mentality without showing honestly where that mentality came from--a feat which "Crash," in spite of its heavy-handed moralizing, never came close to pulling off."
There's So Much We Can Learn from Each Other
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 12/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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.

As this is being established, we're introduced to a teenage boy named Thao (Bee Vang), who lives next door to Kowalski with his large Hmong family. He's the black sheep of his deeply traditional family, always doing chores that the women are supposed to do. Having no direction in life, he's pressured by his cousin, nicknamed Spider (Doua Moua), to join his neighborhood gang. As an act of initiation, Thao must sneak into Kowalski's garage and steal his most prized possession: A 1972 Gran Torino. The attempt backfires. Some time later, Spider arrives with his posse and tries to abduct Thao. The resulting scuffle is broken up when Kowalski points his shotgun at the gang members and demand they get off his lawn.

Within no time at all, Kowalski's front steps are covered with tokens of appreciation from Thao's family, none of which go appreciated. But then Kowalski gets to know Thao's sister, Sue (Ahney Her), a remarkably independent young woman. Quick-witted and outgoing, she takes Kowalski's racial slurs in stride, believing that a good man lies behind the disgruntled façade. As he spends more time with Sue and her family, he begins to realize that he has more in common with them that with his own family, which, in all likelihood, scares him more than it brings him comfort.

When Thao formally apologizes for trying to steal Kowalski's Gran Torino, Kowalski puts him to work doing various chores, like repainting a house and fixing gutters. Hardly a scene goes by when he isn't verbally berating Thao, although it's obvious from the start that he's doing it to toughen him up, to make him believe that his life has a purpose and that he should actively be trying to find it. Part of this involves getting Thao to talk like a man. There's a priceless scene in which Kowalski brings Thao to a barber, who has been sharing insults with Kowalski for a number of years. Afterwards, Kowalski arranges for Thao to work at a construction site; the boss, as it turns out, is the perfect man for Thao to test his new vocabulary on. What Kowalski doesn't realize is that he's learning just as much from Thao, especially in matters of caring for other people. Eventually, Kowalski comes to the conclusion that Thao and his family will never be at peace so long as Spider and his gang are around.

The film's most fascinating character is Father Janovich (Christopher Carley), a twenty-seven year old priest who promised Kowalski's wife that he'd look after him upon her death and get him to confess. Initially, Kowalski wants nothing to do with Janovich, who gives sermons on matters of life and death yet has no real idea what it means to face your own mortality. Kowalski knows--he served his country in Korea. "What do you know about life?" Janovich calmly asks. "Well," says Kowalski, "I survived the war. I got married and had a family." There's absolutely no joy in his voice when he says this. Gradually, he begins to appreciate Janovich; he many not have all the answers, but at least he's willing to listen.

The brilliance of this movie comes not from the development of the characters, but from the way the characters interact with one another. Virtually no one is on friendly terms at the start, but by the end, there's an understated feeling that respect has been earned on all sides. Kowalski refers to Thao as his friend only once, and while it was nice to actually hear it, it still didn't come as a surprise given everything that had been leading to that moment. At a certain point, you just knew how Kowalski felt. "Gran Torino" is such a wonderful film, so carefully structured, so perfectly cast, so rewarding for the audience. To make just one great film in a year is the mark of real talent. But to make two great films in the same year, now that's the work of genius."