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December 03, 2008

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bill

As Cathy, of comic strip fame, might say, "Ack!" The last few words of each line of this post is cut off, at least on my screen, so the first line, to me, reads: " I don't want to give a whole lot away about this picture, as I suspect this blog is frequented by more than a few"...

There's more than a few what? MORE THAN A FEW WHAT!?

Anyway, I'm very surprised and very pleased that you liked this film, as I'm looking forward to it, and because I've seen quite a few people refer to "Gran Torino" as "embarrassing".

Glenn Kenny

It looks okay on my screen, but the spacing was giving me trouble in Typepad, so I don't know what the fuck is up.

I'm not surprised by the "embarrassing" claims. "Million Dollar Baby" got a few of those, too. But just remember, those who make such claims are soulless faux au courant twits who are likely to steer you to some very bad movies, their taste is so up-to-date.

Tony Dayoub

Yeah, Glenn. I'm having the same problem as Bill. Look forward to reading this once it's fixed.

Off topic, I just saw "Doubt" and was also impressed. Alas, I'm under an embargo till 12/12, so I can't write about it. But I gotta tell you, Meryl Streep blew me away.

bill

There are things about "Million Dollar Baby" that I'm not thrilled about, but "embarrassing" it certainly is not. I also happen to think, as ambitious as "Letters from Iwo Jima" is, that "Flags of Our Fathers" is not only generally stronger, but structurally even more ambitious than "Iwo Jima". So I'm not always in line with other people's take on Eastwood.

And I have to repeat: More than a few what?? Sorry, but my screen is still jacking it up, and I simply MUST know the rest of that sentence.

Glenn Kenny

Try it now. I think I figured out the problem. Damn Apple tabs...

Robert

The posting I'm looking at also cuts off. I would love to read your take on the film Glenn. I sat through the trailer this weekend and was concerned that Clint was reverting back to his "Dirty Harry" days (not a good thing).

DVA118

"...more than a few good Eastwood men and women who would appreciate the opportunity to experience it from as fresh a perspective as possible."

bill

Yes, it's working now. I hope I get a chance to see this when it comes out, by which I mean, I hope I can remember to drag my ass to the theater. I may have already missed my chance on "Changeling", which I'm very curious about, despite the largely negative reviews.

Nathan Duke

I'm actually looking forward to "Gran Torino" and am glad to hear you liked it. Frankly, I thought "Changeling" was pretty underrated. I maybe could have done without -- SPOILER ALERT -- the hanging scene, but I otherwise thought it was solid.

By the way, Glenn, when will we be graced with your best of 2008 list? It's still early, I know, but I'm curious to see what's on your list. It's been sort of an unusual year for film.

Mark J

Can I take it you're an admirer of 'A Perfect World' Glenn? I always thought that was a terrific little picture, with one of Costner's finest performances.

Glenn Kenny

LOVE "A Perfect World," not least because it's the most Hawksian of Eastwood's films. And yes, Costner's great in it, although he was remarkably ungracious about Eastwood in interviews when the film came up.

Mark J

That's a shame about Costner's remarks re: Eastwood. I guess they didn't have a harmonious working relationship on the picture?

Looking forward to 'Torino' now I know you're a 'Perfect World' admirer, i'd been disappointed by some earlier negative comments on the picture.

Rob

Sounds terrific & if it's as good as the superlative Changeling which just opened here in the UK to largely terrific reviews then I'll be very happy.

On a not-quite-related note I've been watching with amusement at what appears to be a real generational gap that's opened up between young bloggers & older critics over Eastwood's work. I'm entirely on the side of Eastwood as a great American director & have been for about 30 years so I can hardly be entirely objective but even so there seems to be a vein of distinct irritation - even spitefulness - from a number of bloggers toward Eastwood & his movies that I find baffling. Almost as if 'How dare this old man continue to make movies & how dare they be so acclaimed over .. (insert name of fashionably trendy director here) mixed with an incomprehension of his style & the tradition he's working in. Perhaps It's unwise to make too much of youthful internet blowhards as evidence of a generational shift in attitudes to classical storytelling .. although when I see incoherent junk like The Dark Knight buried in praise & condescending dismissal of a powerful, thoughtful film like Changeling it does begin to worry me.

bill

I like Eastwood AND "The Dark Knight"...

Peter Nellhaus

I read a review by someone comparing Eastwood in Gran Torino to John Wayne in True Grit, as if neither had displayed any acting ability previous to those films.

As far as Eastwood, the director, I feel like he's the last classical American film director.

Glenn Kenny

@Peter—yeah, that was that dolt with the putatively impressive CV over at The Huffington Post. What a tool. ESPECIALLY with the "True Grit" business. As if "Red River" and "The Searchers" never happened. And in any case, to heck with those films—Wayne would have been remarkable without them. Both Eastwood and Wayne are consistently effective on screen. That's all that counts. But when guys like that are consistently effective on screen, without exhibiting much of what is called "range," there's always gonna be some dipshit around to call them out on account that they're not Sean Penn. Life is in fact too short to deal with such imbeciles.

Dan

So, wait, it's in the same tradition as "Unforgiven" and "A Perfect World?"

Glenn, that was all you had to say!

B.W.

I know this is petty, but I could never get down with "A Perfect World" for the sole reason that the child actor who plays Costner's young charge is the most annoying little sh*t I've ever seen in a movie. Even by the standards of child actors that kid was lousy, and something about his snot-nosed face just bothered me to no end. Thus I was distracted, and couldn't really feel what I was supposed to feel, and the film didn't work for me.

And about this Huffington Post dimwit: I can at least understand thinking that True Grit was Wayne's only "good" performance (even though that's dead wrong). But how could anyone think that about Eastwood?? Did this guy not even see Million Dollar Baby, fer chrissakes? Or the decades' worth of other fine performances? It's like he has a mental association of "Eastwood = cowboy = old-fashioned = bad acting". Ugh.

I am still confused as to how Clint had two pictures released in (about) as many months. Does anyone know the deal there? Had one of 'em been shelved for a while?

B.W.

@Rob: Hypocrisy alert: you managed to bemoan the "condescending dismissal" of Changeling and, in the very same sentence, decry The Dark Knight as "incoherent junk." If that's not a condescending dismissal, I don't know what is.

Come on, man, they're not mutually exclusive. Just because you think Changeling deserves more love (and I agree with you on that score) doesn't mean you need to knock something else down a peg.

md'a

As one of the clueless au courant intertube dipshits who was giggling helplessly at Listen Eggroll, I'd like to stress that this new film is working in a very, very different register than Unforgiven or Perfect World, or even Million Dollar Baby (all of which I admire to some degree; Unforgiven is obviously a stone masterpiece). The entire thing is pitched at the same coarse, blunt level as MDB's worst scenes, the ones involving Swank's trailer-trash family. And there's an underlying sanctimony here that's so not-Fuller. Shame, because I think this idea executed with some precision and subtlety could have been terrific.

Rob

'@Rob: Hypocrisy alert: you managed to bemoan the "condescending dismissal" of Changeling and, in the very same sentence, decry The Dark Knight as "incoherent junk." If that's not a condescending dismissal, I don't know what is.'

BW, nope, nothing condescending about dismissing the comic book antics of The Dark Knight. Nolan's film is is a shoddy piece of storytelling. It is the polar opposite of an adult movie like Changeling & that's my opinion. I frankly couldn't care less if it upsets Bat-fans like yourself.

Glenn Kenny

Mike, I said "twits," not "dipshits." I reserve "dipshit" for people who think it's the height of cleverness to write parodies of the "All In The Family" theme song. I have to admit that I'm both relieved and disturbed to learn that I can be equally intemperate on a comments thread whether I've been drinking or not. I really AM a prick!

As for "Torino," we're gonna have to agree to disagree on this—like that's never happened before—although next time I watch I will keep my receptors up for the un-Fuller-ish sanctimony; I feel it's possible I might have to cede that to you. Up to a point.

Dan

"BW, nope, nothing condescending about dismissing the comic book antics of The Dark Knight."

So, did you put in something that proves BW's point as a joke?

B.W.

Wow, Rob, how brave you are for not caring what others think. Kinda defeats the purpose of a comments section, doesn't it?

For the record, I am not a "Bat-fan," I'm simply an open-minded person who can appreciate more than one style of filmmaking (Eastwood's austerity can be great, but it's not the only game in town). If you insist on categorizing anyone who disagrees with you about a certain film as a juvenile fanboy, then, well, I think we know who the juvenile one is.

I had no intentions of reigniting the Dark Knight debate, or of converting you into an, ahem, "Bat-fan." My only point was that you were engaging in this dubious scale-balancing that I see happening a lot. If Changeling is underrated then, according to this faulty principle, some other film -- preferably a very popular, highly acclaimed one -- must be overrated. It doesn't work that way. They can both be good! You're entitled to your opinion of course, but don't drag it into discussion of an unrelated film -- especially if you JUST DENOUNCED the "condescending dismissal" of your film of choice.

(OK, end of rant. Glenn, sorry to hijack the thread, but this Rob fellow got on my nerves.)

md'a

Ah, Glenn. You're not warm. Or sentimental. You're so extreme. You can be so temperamental.

(Cue Junior Walker.)

Victor Morton

The sax solo doesn't come for another half-verse and a chorus.

Though I must say Mike does make this movie -- the trailer for which made it look toxic -- sound SO much more appetizing. Does it matter though that I don't like egg rolls?

eric stanton

As an Eastwood Fan I've been looking forward to this, so I'm glad to hear you liked it. Your feeling that it bears comparison with "Unforgiven" and "A Perfect World" makes me particularly eager to see it. The latter is one of the more mystifyingly underrated movies of the nineties - I saw "Pefect World" during its initial theatrical run and emerged from the theater thunderstruck by the difference between the tremendous film I had just experienced and the somewhat tepid reviews I had read.

Taste is individual; contra B.W., I thought the little kid in "Perfect World" was terrific - natural and unaffected.

Among other things, "Perfect World" made me look at Costner differently. He was good in some earlier movies, but that was - and still is - his best dramatic performance. He is great in it, total agreement on that point. I didn't know he had made any ungracious remarks about Eastwood at the time. I seem to recall the sight of Eastwood and Costner together at some event years later where they appeared to be friendly - maybe the problem, whatever it was, blew over?

Rob

BW, The Dark Knight is a dreadful film & a particularly incompetent example of narrative storytelling & it stands as the polar opposite of a film like Changeling. I suggest you & Dan learn to deal with the fact that not everybody is as in love with Nolan's film as you are. Oh, & further; I'll venture my opinion on any goddamn film I choose in an open discussion like this. If that offends your delicate fanboy sensibilities (you too Dan!) then tough.

Dennis Cozzalio

Glenn: As an Eastwood appreciator from way back (and one who did not particularly appreciate CHANGELING) I was very glad to read your positive and none-too-revealing comments about GRAN TORINO. I have to admit, the trailer did not inspire a lot of confidence, but the description of the movie in this post certainly does. I am definitely on the side of the older critics in the generation gap Rob observes above re the reception of Eastwood's work as a director (and actor), and nothing would please me more than if Gran Torino turned out to be a movie that could be discussed in the same breath with UNFORGIVEN, A PERFECT WORLD, MILLION DOLLAR BABY and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, all superb movies and, with one exception, not often recognized as a good as they really are. (MILLION DOLLAR BABY-- imperfect, definitely, but hardly embarrassing; and I continue to be baffled by the indifferent reception that greeted A PERFECT WORLD.)

Anyway, thanks for raising my expectations on this one, and DOUBT as well. Here it is December, and I still haven't seen a movie I've loved more in 2008 than SPEED RACER...!

Dan

Rob, you are, of course, entitled to your opinion.

However, since you deployed insults, let's review your behavior:

-- Your comments about "The Dark Knight" lack any meat. You complain about the dreadful story and the shoddy filmmaking, but cite no examples. Your language implies heavily that your mind was made up to hate the film before you walked in the door ("comic book antics"? Really?)

-- You're using one film as a club on another. Regardless of the two films in question, that's always a bad argument, especially when they are two entirely different films from entirely different filmmakers with entirely different goals. This would really only be a valid argument if "Changeling" were a superhero movie.

-- And, finally, someone disagrees with you and you throw a hissy-fit.

In short, we offended your delicate fanboy sensibilities. I will continue to do so, by having my own opinions and not automatically parroting yours.

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