26. Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008) #90 in IMDB top 250
I’m unashamedly biased about Clint Eastwood films. I’m a big fan of the man’s body of work – especially the 70s stuff. I haven’t watched much of his recent films since the old-boys reunion Space Cowboys. In Gran Torino Clint plays Walt Kowalski, a Korean war veteran whose wife has recently died leaving him living alone. Walt lives in a neighbourhood that is now predominantly inhabited by immigrant families. Next door is a Hmong family whose lives he gets entangled with when he scares off a local gang who bother their son Thao. Kowalski is however, a massive racist. Every other sentence is littered with a term of racial abuse and spat derisively in Eastwoods craggy breaking voice. Factor in that Walt Kowalski is perhaps the grumpiest character I’ve ever seen in a film and with any other actor/director you’d have a recipe for an unsympathetic offensive disaster. But with Eastwood at the helm the film is instead an amusing and moving morality play. The story is a little special for not being overtly sentimental and not conforming to any rite of passage cliché. In fact, I won’t spoil it but, something happens in this that is very rare in Eastwood films that I wasn’t expecting and that may indicate that the big fella is thinking of calling it a day.
It’s hugely enjoyable to watch Clint spit piss and fire at everyone he meets and the film is shot and edited in a patient, unhurried style that makes for a refreshing change of pace from most modern product. There is one blemish on the film though. The song that Clint sings over the closing credits is utterly dreadful. Should’ve gone for an actual singer instead pal.