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Gran Torino

Gran Torino

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Il Grande Torino.
Gran Torino

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Bill Gerber
Robert Lorenz
Screenplay by Nick Schenk
Story by Dave Johannson
Nick Schenk
Starring Clint Eastwood
Music by Kyle Eastwood
Michael Stevens
Jamie Cullum
Cinematography Tom Stern
Editing by Joel Cox
Gary D. Roach
Studio Village Roadshow Pictures
Malpaso Productions
Media Magik Entertainment
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) December 12, 2008
Running time 120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $33 million[1]
Box office $269,958,228[2]

Gran Torino is a 2008 American drama film directed by, produced by, and starring Clint Eastwood. The film marks Eastwood's return to a lead acting role after four years, his previous leading role having been in Million Dollar Baby, and Eastwood has stated that this is his final film as an actor. The film features a large Hmong American cast, as well as one of Eastwood's younger sons, Scott Eastwood, playing Trey. Eastwood's oldest son, Kyle Eastwood, provided the score. The film opened to theaters in a limited release in North America on December 12, 2008, and later to a worldwide release on January 9, 2009.[3]
The story follows Walt Kowalski, a recently widowed Korean War veteran who is alienated from his family and angry at the world. Walt's young Hmong neighbor, Thao, is pressured into trying to steal Walt's prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino by his cousin for his initiation into a gang. Walt develops a relationship with the boy and his family.
Gran Torino was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $260 million worldwide.[2]



[edit] Plot

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a gruff retired Polish American Ford factory worker and Korean War veteran, has recently been widowed after 50 years of marriage. His neighborhood near Detroit in Highland Park, Michigan, formerly populated by working-class white families, is now dominated by poor Asian immigrants, and gang violence is commonplace. He vehemently turns down a suggestion by one of his estranged sons to move to a retirement community, and lives alone with his labrador retriever, Daisy. Walt suffers from coughing fits, occasionally coughing up blood, but keeps this from his family. Father Janovich, the young Catholic priest in whom his wife had confided, tries to comfort him, but Walt openly disdains the much younger, inexperienced man.
The Hmong Vang Lor family resides next door to Walt. Initially, he wants nothing to do with his new neighbors, particularly after he catches Thao attempting to steal his beloved 1972 Gran Torino as a coerced initiation into a Hmong gang run by Thao's cousin. The Hmong gang is infuriated and attacks Thao, but Walt confronts them with his M1 Garand rifle and chases them off, earning the respect of the Hmong community. As penance, Thao's mother makes Thao work for Walt. Walt has him do odd jobs around the neighborhood, and gradually the two form a grudging respect for each other, aided by Thao's sister Sue. Walt helps Thao get a construction job and gives him advice on dating a popular Hmong girl, Youa, who Walt nicknames "Yum Yum."
The gang continues to pressure Thao and assaults him on his way home from work. They perform a drive-by shooting on the Vang Lor home, injuring Thao, and kidnap and rape Sue. The next day, Thao seeks Walt's help to exact revenge. Walt tells him to return later in the afternoon. In the meantime, Walt makes preparations, buying a fitted suit, and confessing to Father Janovich. When Thao returns, Walt takes him to the basement and shows him his Silver Star, which he gives to Thao. Walt tricks Thao, locking him in his basement, and tells him that he has been haunted by the memory of killing an enemy soldier, which he had not confessed to Janovich, and insists that Thao must never experience killing another person.
Walt drives to the house of the gang members. When they spot him, they draw their weapons. Walt talks loudly, drawing the attention of the neighbors. He puts a cigarette in his mouth and asks for a light. He then slowly puts his hand in his jacket and provocatively pulls it out. The gang members all begin firing their guns at Walt, killing him. As he falls to the ground, his hand opens to reveal a lighter; Walt was unarmed. Sue frees Thao and they drive to the crime scene in Walt's Gran Torino. A Hmong police officer tells them the gang will be imprisoned for a long time for murder due to the number of willing witnesses.
Walt's funeral is attended not only by his family, but also by Thao, Sue, and many of the Hmong community, with Father Janovich officiating. He says that Walt called him "an over-educated 27-year-old virgin that never knew the difference between life and death," and the last bit was true until he met Walt. Afterward, Walt's last will and testament is read. To the surprise of his family, Walt leaves his house to the church and his cherished Gran Torino to Thao. As the film ends, Thao is seen driving the car along West Jefferson with Walt's dog, Daisy.

[edit] Cast

  • Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski
  • Bee Vang as Thao Vang Lor, a young Hmong teenager
  • Ahney Her as Sue Lor, Thao's older sister
  • Christopher Carley as Father Janovich
  • Doua Moua as Fong "Spider", Thao's cousin, shot caller of a Hmong street gang and the main antagonist
  • Sonny Vue as Smokie, Fong's right-hand man
  • Brian Haley as Mitch Kowalski, Walt's older son Karen's husband, Josh and Ashley's father
  • Brian Howe as Steve Kowalski, Walt's younger son and Mitch's Brother
  • Geraldine Hughes as Karen Kowalski, Mitch's wife, Walt's daughter-in-law and mother of Ashley and Josh.
  • Dreama Walker as Ashley Kowalski, Mitch and Karens daughter and Walt's granddaughter
  • Michael E. Kurowski as Josh Kowalski, Mitch and Karens son and Walt's grandson
  • John Carroll Lynch as Martin, an Italian-American barber friend of Walt's
  • Chee Thao as Grandma Vang Lor, the matriarch of Thao's family
  • Choua Kue as Youa; a running gag involves Walt mispronouncing her name as "Yum-Yum"
  • Scott Eastwood as Trey, Sue's date

[edit] Production

Gran Torino was directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Nick Schenk.[4] It was produced by Village Roadshow Pictures, Media Magik Entertainment and Malpaso Productions for film distributor Warner Bros. Eastwood also produced alongside Malpaso partner Robert Lorenz and Bill Gerber.[5] The original script was inspired by the Northeast neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, but filmmakers chose to film in Michigan, becoming one of the first productions to take advantage of the state's new law that provided lucrative incentive packages to film productions.[6] Filming began in July 2008;[7] locations included Highland Park, Detroit, Center Line,[8] Warren, Royal Oak, and Grosse Pointe Park.[9] Hmong crew, production assistants, consultants, and extras were used.[4][10]
In the early 1990s, Schenk became acquainted with the history and culture of the Hmong while working in a factory in Minnesota.[11] He also learned how they had sided with the South Vietnamese forces and its U.S. allies during the Vietnam War, only to wind up in refugee camps, at the mercy of northern Communist forces, when American troops pulled out and the government forces were defeated.[11] Years later, he was deciding how to develop a story involving a widowed Korean War veteran trying to handle the changes in his neighborhood when he decided to place a Hmong family next door and create a culture clash.[11] He and Dave Johannson, Schenk's brother's roommate, created an outline for the story.[11] Some industry insiders told Schenk that he could not produce a film starring elderly characters as it could not be sold.[11] Through a friend Schenk sent the screenplay to Warner Bros. producer Bill Gerber.[11] Eastwood was able to direct and star on the project as filming for Invictus was delayed to early 2009, leaving sufficient time for filming during the previous summer.[11] Eastwood said that he had a "fun and challenging role, and it's an oddball story."[11]
Producer Robert Lorenz said that while the script was originally set in Minnesota, he chose Michigan as the actual setting as Kowalski is a retired car plant worker. Eastwood wanted Hmong as cast members, so casting director Ellen Chenoweth enlisted Hmong organizations and set up calls in Detroit, Fresno, and St. Paul; Fresno and St. Paul have the two largest Hmong communities in the United States, while Detroit also has an appreciable population of Hmong.[12] (However, most of the 4,000 or so Hmong in Detroit live on the east side of the city; very few live in Highland Park, which is more than 93 percent African-American.) Chenoweth recruited Bee Vang in St. Paul and Ahney Her in Detroit.[11]

[edit] Release

[edit] Theatrical run

In the film's opening weekend of wide release in the U.S., it grossed $29.5 million; as of August 21, 2009, has taken in $269,541,625 worldwide.[2][13]

[edit] Home media release

The film was released on June 9, 2009 in the United States in both standard DVD format and Blu-ray.[14] The disc includes bonus materials and extra features.[14] A featurette is included and a documentary about the correlation of manhood and the automobile.[15] The Blu-ray version presents the film in 2.40:1 ratio format, a digital copy, and the audio in multiple languages.[15][16]
About 3,751,729 DVD units have been sold as of November 1, 2009 generating $56,684,999 in revenue. This does not include Blu-ray sales.[17]

[edit] Reception

[edit] Reviews

After seeing the film, The New York Times noted the requiem tone captured by the film, describing it as "a sleek, muscle car of a movie made in the U.S.A., in that industrial graveyard called Detroit." Manohla Dargis compared Eastwood's presence on film to Dirty Harry and the Man with No Name, stating, "Dirty Harry is back, in a way, in Gran Torino, not as a character but as a ghostly presence. He hovers in the film, in its themes and high-caliber imagery, and of course most obviously in Mr. Eastwood’s face. It is a monumental face now, so puckered and pleated that it no longer looks merely weathered, as it has for decades, but seems closer to petrified wood."[18] The Los Angeles Times also praised Eastwood's performance and credibility as an action hero at the age of 78. Kenneth Turan said of Eastwood's performance, "It is a film that is impossible to imagine without the actor in the title role. The notion of a 78-year-old action hero may sound like a contradiction in terms, but Eastwood brings it off, even if his toughness is as much verbal as physical. Even at 78, Eastwood can make 'Get off my lawn' sound as menacing as 'Make my day,' and when he says 'I blow a hole in your face and sleep like a baby,' he sounds as if he means it."[19] Roger Ebert wrote that the film is "about the belated flowering of a man's better nature. And it's about Americans of different races growing more open to one another in the new century."[20]
However, not everyone enjoyed the film. Mark Harris, columnist for Entertainment Weekly, described it as "fantasy pretending to be social commentary," and accused it of peddling "the delusion that even the bigot next door has something to teach us all about heroism and self-sacrifice," adding "no, he doesn't."[21] Conversely, Nicole Sperling, also of Entertainment Weekly, perceived it in the exact opposite manner. She called it a drama with "the commercial hook of a genre film" and described it further as "a meditation on tolerance wrapped in the disguise of a movie with a gun-toting Clint Eastwood and a cool car."[22]
Rotten Tomatoes reported that 80% of critics gave the film "Certified Fresh" positive write-ups, based upon a sample of 211, with an average score of 7.1/10 and the site's consensus stating: "Though a minor entry in Eastwood's body of work, Gran Torino is nevertheless a humorous, touching, and intriguing old-school parable."[23] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 72, based on 33 reviews.[24]

[edit] Awards and nominations

Gran Torino was recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the Ten Best Films of 2008.[25] Clint Eastwood's performance has also garnered recognition. He won an award for Best Actor from the National Board of Review,[26] he was nominated for the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Critics' Choice Awards) and by the Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Best Actor.[27][28] An original song from the film, "Gran Torino", was nominated for the Golden Globe Awards for Best Original Song. The music is Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood, and Michael Stevens, with Cullum penning the lyrics, although Eastwood composed and performed the title track to the film.[29] The Art Directors Guild nominated Gran Torino in the contemporary film category.[30]
The film, however, was ignored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the 81st Academy Awards when it was not nominated for a single Oscar, which led to heated criticism from critics, who felt that the Academy had also deliberately snubbed The Dark Knight, Revolutionary Road and Changeling from the five major categories.[31][32]
In 2010, the film was named Best Foreign Film at the César Awards in France.[33]

[edit] References

  1. ^ Roger Friedman (2009-02-02). "Clint Eastwood's $110 Million Revenge". Fox News. Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  2. ^ a b c "Gran Torino (2008)". Box Office Mojo. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-06-26.
  3. ^ McNary, Dave; Pamela McClintock (October 23, 2008). "High School Musical 3 aims for No. 1". Variety. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Schein, Louisa (October 3, 2008). "Eastwood's Next Film Features Hmong American Cast: Exclusive Interviews From the Set of Gran Torino". AsianWeek. Retrieved October 28, 2008.
  5. ^ Garrett, Diane; Pamela McClintock (March 18, 2007). "Eastwood to direct Gran Torino". Variety. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  6. ^ Graham, Adam (2007-07-18). "Clint Eastwood attracts giddy gawkers". The Detroit News.
  7. ^ "Clint Eastwood begins shooting movie in Grosse Pointe Shores". The Detroit News. 2008-07-15.
  8. ^ Allard, Maria (2007-07-16). "Clint Eastwood films scene for new movie in Highland Park, Center Line". C & G News (C & G Publishing). Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  9. ^ Hall, Christina (2007-07-15). "The film set next door: Lights... camera... Clint Eastwood!". Detroit Free Press.
  10. ^ Schein, Louisa (September 3, 2008). "Hmong Actors Making History: The Bad Guys Of Eastwood's Gran Torino". New America Media (Pacific News Service). Retrieved October 28, 2008.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Todd Longwell (2008-12-09). "Eastwood recognizes Hmong immigrants with new film". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
  12. ^ Donnelly, Francis (2005-04-12). "Culture shock, poverty plague Hmong in Michigan". The Detroit News.
  13. ^ Rich, Joshua (2009-02-01). "Taken steals No. 1 slot at box office". Entertainment Weekly (CNN). Retrieved 2009-02-02.
  14. ^ a b McCutcheon, David (2009-03-25). "Gran Torino's Pedal to Metal". IGN. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  15. ^ a b "Gran Torino fera rugir vos lecteurs Blu-ray" (in French). Audio vidéo haute définition. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  16. ^ "Gran Torino (R1/US BD) in June". DVD Times. 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
  17. ^ "Gran Torino - DVD Sales". The Numbers. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  18. ^ Dargis, Manohla (December 12, 2008). "Hope for a Racist, and Maybe a Country". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2010.
  19. ^ Turan, Kenneth (December 12, 2008). "Review: Gran Torino: Clint Eastwood, at 78, shows he's still a formidable action figure". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger (December 17, 2008). "Review: Gran Torino". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
  21. ^ "All Rags, No Riches" By Mark Harris - EW.com
  22. ^ "Adult Dramas in Decline" By Nicole Sperling - EW.com
  23. ^ "Gran Torino Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
  24. ^ "Gran Torino (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2009-01-21.
  25. ^ "AFI Awards 2008". afi.com. American Film Institute. Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  26. ^ "Awards for 2008". nbrmp.org. National Board of Review. Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  27. ^ "The 14th Critics' Choice Awards Nominees". bfca.org. Broadcast Film Critics Association. Retrieved December 16, 2007.
  28. ^ "L.A., D.C. critics announce 2008 film awards". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. December 9, 2008. Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  29. ^ "Golden Globe Awards nominations for the year ended December 31, 2008". goldenglobes.org. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved December 16, 2007.
  30. ^ Kroll, Justin (2009-01-09). "Art Directors Guild unveils nominees Button, Doubt, Torino among contenders". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2009-01-09.
  31. ^ Lemire, Christy (2009-01-22). "Oscar nomination surprises and snubs". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-02-26.
  32. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2009-01-22). "Oscars Snub Springsteen, Celebrate "Slumdog" As Nominations Are Announced". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  33. ^ "Prison drama A Prophet sweeps French Oscars". BBC News. March 1, 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.

[edit] External links

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