Rightwing Film Geek

Camp is not dead

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GRAN TORINO (Clint Eastwood, USA, 2008, 6)

I don’t have for Clint Eastwood the boundless contempt that I do for Jean-Luc Godard, but I have the same rating problem with GRAN TORINO that I had with SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL last year, namely how does one rate a movie that is terrible by every possible objective standard, but which you yourself had a high ol’ time laughing at.

In fact, I enjoyed GRAN TORINO so much that I nearly did a Mike D’Angelo last night and retitled my blog in its honor. I was told by Craig Lindsey of the Raleigh News-Observer via Twitter that I wasn’t “a part of the crew” until I contributed an alternative title for the film based on its jaw-droppingly awful dialog (plenty of samples coming). I eventually decided on “OVEREDUCATED 27-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN” and decided I’ll renominate my sight that, at least for the temporariliness. But alas, the font size on the WordPress template’s header was too big to make it work.

The problem with GRAN TORINO is very basic. The acting is appallingly bad, from top to bottom; the script is worse. We’re not talking weak — we’re talking jaw-dropping, head-grabbing, “I can’t believe I’m seeing this” bad. It’s the story of a very grumpy old man Walt Kowalski, played by Eastwood. A Korean War veteran and retired Ford factory worker, he can barely tolerate his family (the film begins with his wife’s funeral) and he sees his working-class neighborhood being “taken over” by “Hamung” immigrants, whom he calls by every ethnic slur in the book. Not that he discriminates, mind you; he refers to everybody by such lingo.

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January 3, 2009 Posted by | Clint Eastwood | 12 Comments

Don’t judge the book by the auteur

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I intend to see GRAN TORINO later tonight, after having prepared myself to take advantage of Mike D’Angelo’s suggestion that this movie, which he has dubbed LISTEN, EGGROLL, might be the funniest movie ever if you watched it drunk. Many are called, few are chosen …

But anyhoo, recently Clint went off in “Grumpy Old Man” mode (HT: Steve Skojec) that he’s apparently playing in GRAN TORINO, saying that America has gone to hell in a welter of psychologizing and sensitivity.

Tough guy Clint Eastwood believes America is getting soft around the middle – and the iconic Oscar winner thinks he knows when the problem began.
“Maybe when people started asking about the meaning of life,” Eastwood, 78, growls in the January issue of Esquire.
The actor/director recalls the deeper questions were rarely posed during his Depression-era California childhood – and says that wasn’t a bad thing.
“People barely got by,” Eastwood recounts. “People were tougher then.”

That mentality is gone, he laments.
“Everyone’s become used to saying, ‘Well, how do we handle it psychologically?'” Eastwood says. “In those days, you punched the bully back and duked it out.”

Now, I agree heartily with what Clint says … US foreign policy in particular, especially under liberal administration but also somewhat under conservative ones too, has become indistinguishable from therapy. (Or as Sicinski put it in his review of STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE: “But there is something to be said for Robert Frost’s old joke about liberals being too broad-minded to take their own side in an argument.” As if we think Hamas just needs to be understood and have its legitimate concerns addressed.)

But most of Eastwood’s last several movies, at least the ones I’ve seen, are exactly what Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name preaches against (at least in part; several are more complicated obviously).

What is UNFORGIVEN but a movie about the psychological burden of killing? What is FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS if not a film about how war and having to kill people screws people up in the head (oh … the strawberry sauce) … especially if you’re from an Official Oppressed Ethnicity? What is LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA but an attempt at psychological understanding of The Enemy, and a painting of Japan’s wartime army as Modern Asian-Americans? What is MILLION DOLLAR BABY but an apologia for euthanizing people who don’t think their lives have any more meaning? How is MYSTIC RIVER a tragedy, or indeed anything but a meaningless tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing, unless its audience is the introspective sort that frets over the meaning of life?

January 2, 2009 Posted by | Clint Eastwood | 7 Comments