So, I watched Gran Torino, and I began writing a review for it. I gave it 1 out of 5 stars and dished out a harty critique on the bad acting, mediocre cinematography, and horrible script (while expressing that the only redeeming factor of the film was it’s anti-racist moral undertone). After getting through a few paragraphs, I decided to take a break. I went to some other critic’s reviews to see what they thought, and I was shocked to find 3 and 3 1/2 stars out of four. WHAT!?
Am I missing something?
I was also appalled by the accolades from critics. One of the most overrated films I’ve ever seen.
No. You didn’t like it. Some others do, some don’t. What’s to miss? Not everyone’s opinion is the same. Why do Michael Bay’s films do well? Someone must like them though everyone claims they don’t, heh.
That depends. Looking around on this site, you’ll find varied opinions of that movie (and of Eastwood in general).
I maintain that the least interesting factor in any good criticism isn’t the liking or disliking of a movie. Good criticism should help the reader understand why the writer feels as they do. Explain what you saw in the movie, and how you interpreted it. If you think that the cinematography was mediocre, then help your readers understand why. How did Eastwoods camera work, what impression did it leave, and how did it shape the story? Tell us why the script is horrible. How does it treat its characters, and does it cheat in its story arc? If you’re wiling to delve into those issues, then your piece will accurately express your sentiments of the film. Don’t worry if some critics disagree with you. They disagree with everyone, including each other.
Yeah, I know. One critic was Roger Ebert. I love his writing style but I disagree with a lot of his film critiques. But some others…I really had faith in them until now, haha. I was just making sure there wasn’t some underlying theme or something that I was missing.
The first time that I saw “Gran Tornio” I had some serious reservations about it, but I had the chance to see it again a couple of weeks ago, and while it is clumsy at times, I think it’s a pretty good movie.
Nathan: Yeah, I definitely was working on explaining my opinions of the film thoroughly. But, this is one of those rare times where I was truly taken aback by the ratings. I mean, I really didn’t expect it. But, to each his own I guess.
I’m not sure anyone who cites Garden State as one of his favorite films should be questioning anyone else for liking anything but I’ll take the bait. I agree that Gran Torino is clumsy (all of Eastwood’s films are) but it’s also one of his better films. A far better “Did I miss something” style thread could be made about the awful Million Dollar Baby (except I’m sure that thread exists already but if you want to talk about an overrated critics’ darling made by Eastwood start there). I was saddened that Clint didn’t get a well-deserved best actor nomination for the film – especially since he says the film will be his last performance in front of the camera – so I’m not sure what you are referring to by bad acting. And, yes, I liked the performances by the Hmong (non)actorsl who are an undeserving target of criticism (although I’m sure the same critics praise the “naturalistic” performances of similar non-actors in something like, say, Chop Shop or a Kiarostami film). As for the rest, I agree with Nathan that you need to back up your criticism with some meat.
It’s Eastwood’s directing style, and just for that I give it 2+ stars. I mean the man has balls of brass. Shooting the first draft and one or two takes a scene. I mean it definitely shows, but the story is great.
Best actor nomination for Eastwood? Really? Sergio Leone would have turned in his grave if that happened.
Garden State is very enjoyable and i don’t see what’s wrong with it,and it’s not really a comparison to the Gran Tortillas of this thread but what do i know…
Gran Torino is bad but in a well-done way…it’s definitely not like a Madison County and it’s definitely not like a mature Bird but it’s also not like Changeling’s melodramatic “studio” quality…
but ultimately,Gran Torino is just a mash-up of Eastwood’s usual themes only in a down-under method of showing off what made him a “man” and in the finale,he’s more or less admitting his guilts…near the finale,it doesn’t matter for what it’s worth…
Million Dollar while corny is at least better than Torino’s wretched boredom…even Flags surpasses Torino with it’s U.S.. pride because there’s not a forced aesthetic in Flags compared to Torino…
if you ask me,Torino is amongst the worst U.S. films of 2008,surely not as bad as Changeling but if Changeling is near the bottom,then Torino is outside of Hades’ gates…….in the years to come,Torino will be a huge pimple (much like Space Cowboys) in an otherwise very interesting career…
p.s.: every actor in Torino however was arguably better than Eastwood’s copy-paste role (narcissistic to the bone)
Dimitris – I’m a little surprised at the suggestion that “Flags of Our Fathers” is full of “U.S. pride.” If anything, “Flags” is a deeply cynical film about how the media can manipulate and alter events for their own purposes (good and bad). The title itself even carries the weight of some irony as it points towards the idea that the flags of our fathers weren’t real, but staged – play acted.
“gran torino” was terrible for me. not bad in a good way, but just flat out bad. the acting and the story were definitely hokey. i dont know too much about eastwoods cinema, but if this is considered at least an average film by him, it drags the whole body of work down.
Nathan,i had to write the word pride like this: “pride”…but i thought that leaving a few spaces would make my point…true..Flags is a smirk to the U.S. policy of that era and it has merits but not enough to make it universal….
Iwo Jima is more ironic and to be precise..more patriotic in war issues and Iwo Jima will be remembered as Eastwood’’s courageous “swan” song",since Invictus sounds like another melo to me…or an Oscar bait for that matter….(Jolie for actress in Changeling,so many laughable factors.,…)
Gran Torino was amazing. It delivered exactly what it promised: a grizzled and grumpy old veteran makes nonstop off-color jokes and gets his life changed in a most cliched way by a special young man. The previews told me this was going to be an asinine plot, and that I would get to be entertained by tasteless humor and the antics of a geriatric man with a take-no-shit attitude. I was happy when I actually got to see the movie and had my expectations met to the fullest. It was very entertaining, though I will admit i don’t think it is noteworthy for any other reason.
Jaeger, wouldn’t Leone have already been turning in his grave that Clint won two Best Director Oscars? He’s more than deserving of a Best Actor award than anything for directing and I love him in Gran Torino, even if the performance was just an elaborate riff on his own iconicity (but closer to Marlon Brando in the Freshman than the recent self-parodies of Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro). He is pure presence and you don’t really get that anymore from actors. I dig how goofy Gran Torino is but I can see how it opens itself up more to being laughed at than laughed with (to me, Eastwood’s much worse when he’s too self-serious).
if Eastwood deserves an actor award,what does Mastroianni deserve?roses? ;)
Austin, you are experiencing that strange condition I’m starting to think of as “Eastwood Vu”, that odd disorientating condition when you realize that Eastwood’s really quite useless films are praised out of all proportion to their actual quality. This is a particularly sad sub-version of a more typical illness known as “what-the-hell-are-these-idiots-thinkingitis.”
“Gran Torino” is a very good picture which rises above Clint’s occasionally wooden acting and the dialogue, which is uninspired. (The attempt to recreate the ball-breaking style of working class America is sometimes funny, but comes across as forced.) The story, however — Walt Kowalski’s realization of the humanity of his neighbors, at the same time as he is increasingly alienated from his family — is compelling and affecting. And the ending will prompt you to reconsider again the efficacy and meaning of violence, an important theme in other Eastwood pictures, especially “Unforgiven,” a truly great American film. Eastwood is a skillful director who will never be credited as a remarkable stylist or someone who has remade cinema. But by this point he’s made several good movies, as well as “Unforgiven,” which was utterly gripping and a conclusive deconstruction of the archetypal Western picture. (It is to Western films what Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” is to literature.)
All that said, no big deal if you didn’t like “Gran Torino.” It certainly isn’t the sort of thing that is so good it demands an explanation from someone who didn’t like it.
Sean – Your right to assert that the attempted recreation of working class dialogue stumbles a bit. But, what I found fascinating about the movie is the way it used that language to comment on racism. In the end, it isn’t words that define racism for Walt, it’s his perceptions of his neighbors. Midway through the film, as he’s starting to warm up to the family next door, he still refers to a clan of three boys as, “click-clack, ding-dong, and Charlie Chan”. Hilariously, Eastwood is still using these ridiculous terms while slowing gravitating to the idea that these people have more in common with him than his own family.
I have only two real reservations about the movie. 1. When Walt takes Thao into the barber shop and tries to teach him how to talk like a real man. God, what an embarrassingly awkward scene. I get where Eastwood was going on a structural level, but the whole scene just seemed so forced beyond belief. 2. Eastwood does take some really stupid pot shots at the white suburban family, and frankly I’m a bit tired of that pose. He could have done a little something to round those characters out, but instead he paints them as horrible caricatures, hellbent on making Walt’s life miserable. 3 (oh and a bonus here) Walt’s occasional growling thing was a little weird, and always took me out of the picture every time he did it.
First let me say that in my review, I did not just say “It’s bad. The camera work was not Eastwood’s best, and the acting was bad. the end.” I am backing my criticisms with “meat”. I am just asking for other peoples opinion of the film to see if I missed why it was so critically acclaimed. I genuinely thought I missed something. I appreciate the film. The cinematography wasn’t bad, just mediocre in my opinion, especially watching his other films. I like Eastwood, I liked Changeling and Mystic River (not that there the best films, but I found myself entertained), personally, but I felt like after having such films that, I thought, were so well done, he dropped the ball. I’m not saying the film is bad, just that I didn’t care for it. I have my reasons and the “meat” to back it up. I just want to know what other people saw in it. that is all.
>>a grizzled and grumpy old veteran … gets his life changed in a most cliched way by a special young man<<
Leave it alone, Harry, leave it alone …
Just walk away …
Withnail: “Gran Torino was amazing. It delivered exactly what it promised”
Thank you for your view on that. I agree with this. I just personally thought what it promised was lacking something.
Roscoe: Thanks for the laugh, haha.
Nathan: “Your right to assert that the attempted recreation of working class dialogue stumbles a bit. But, what I found fascinating about the movie is the way it used that language to comment on racism. In the end, it isn’t words that define racism for Walt, it’s his perceptions of his neighbors.”
This is what I’m talking about. I never thought of the language as a “comment on racism.” Obviously I hinted toward that but just thinking of it now has opened up a different view of the film. It does not save it for me though.
the language isnt a comment on racism. it IS racism. you cant separate language from commenting. ones a vehicle for the other.
Bobby – The way that the dialogue is written and structured does comment on racism. Just as Spike Lee comments on racism by inserting and structuring certain words into his films.
I can understand the argument about the bad acting, but I would hardly call Gran Torino a bad script. As a matter of fact, I would call that argument just downright unsound. I thought it was a very moving story about friendship and redemption with a very Ozu-esque theme of generation gaps and fragmented familial relationships.
“with a very Ozu-esque theme of generation gaps and fragmented familial relationships”
I thought it was an entertaining movie. Did it crawl inside my mind and blow it inside out like “The Holy Mountain”? No, definitely not. Did it make me contemplate life, time, and space like “2001: A Space Odyssey”? No. But it did entertain me and that’s what I like about movies…they entertain me! I thought it was great to see a character like the one Clint plays, you don’t normally see movies focus on a racist character like him. Say what you want but I thought Clint Eastwood was perfect for the role, he’s just pure old school American that you simply cannot learn, he just is. The story kept my interest and I was never bored with the movie.