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THE REEL ESTATE: Just get off his lawn!

That's it ladies and gentlemen, if he's true to his word, then "Gran Torino" could very well be Clint Eastwood's acting swan song, and what a way to go.

Shot in about three weeks with a budget of about $35 million, the film went to earn $145 million in North America, eventually becoming Eastwood's all time highest grossing film (without inflation calculations).

The enormous appeal behind the film is understandable. "Gran Torino" has been recurrently described as Harry Callahan in retirement, and initially, that's what the film appears to be.

But "Gran Torino" is more than that. It's comedy-cum-drama-cum-action flick that is purely American from head to toe in to stand or carry the feet in such a way that the toes of either foot incline toward the other.

See also: Toe
 terms of the themes it carries and the dying values it mourns. It's also a story about aging, about a man finally coming to terms with his own dark past; and it all culminates into a heart-tugging ending that perfectly serve as Eastwood's farewell note.

Eastwood is Walt Kowalski, a cantankerous can·tan·ker·ous  
adj.
1. Ill-tempered and quarrelsome; disagreeable: disliked her cantankerous landlord.

2.
, foul-mouthed, tough-skinned, outrageously blunt retired autoworker au·to·work·er  
n.
A worker in the automobile industry.
. He is also a decorated Korean War Korean War, conflict between Communist and non-Communist forces in Korea from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into Soviet (North Korean) and U.S. (South Korean) zones of occupation.  veteran and a recent widower living in a Michigan neighborhood that has been virtually overtaken by a Hmong (an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia) community.Aa

Walt is completely estranged es·trange  
tr.v. es·tranged, es·trang·ing, es·trang·es
1. To make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate.

2. To remove from an accustomed place or set of associations.
 from his two sons and grandchildren. At the beginning of the film, during his wife's funeral, you can easily tell he somehow despises the whole lot. His family isn't that affectionate or caring either. Early on, his skanky, spoiled, belly-button wearing teenage granddaughter asks if he can spare some of his furniture for her college apartment since he's too old and doesn't look like he's got plenty of time to live. Later on, his son and his daughter-in-law suggest that he move to a nursing home and leave them the house. Of course, he kicks them out immediately.

Walt only has three companions: his dog Lucie, his gun and his vintage 1972 Gran Torino car that everyone wants. He has no relationship with his next door neighbors whom he calls "gooks" and "chinks." He catches his shy, bookish book·ish  
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or resembling a book.

2. Fond of books; studious.

3. Relying chiefly on book learning:
 and sensitive young neighbor Thao (Bee Vang) red-handed in his garage and looks ready to shoot him, but the boy escapes. Thao is bullied by the local gang to steal Walt's Gran Torino.

When the Hmong gang violently harasses Thao's family in public, Walt picks up his rifle and drives the gang away. The next day, Walt, the disgruntled dis·grun·tle  
tr.v. dis·grun·tled, dis·grun·tling, dis·grun·tles
To make discontented.



[dis- + gruntle, to grumble (from Middle English gruntelen; see
, racist recluse, is transformed into the neighborhood hero, with every family invading his privacy and dropping by a variety of gifts at his doorstep every day. Reluctant at first, he eventually succumbs to their friendly gestures (and their tasty chicken).

Meanwhile, Thao's charming and sweet sister Sue (Ahney Her) puts her brother in Walt's service to make up for the attempted burglary. Walt accepts Sue's offer, enlisting Thao for odd jobs and takes him in one memorable trip to the barbershop to "man-him up."

Prior to its release, and despite my great fondness for Eastwood, I wasn't particularly enthused about "Gran Torino," especially after the minor disappointment of his other new release "Changeling." The story sounded somewhat banal and too conventional: a bigoted big·ot·ed  
adj.
Being or characteristic of a bigot: a bigoted person; an outrageously bigoted viewpoint.



big
 old-man learns to overcome his prejudices and replaces his ungrateful family with his loving neighbors.

Truth be told, the Nick Schenk's script lacks a proper setup for the characters, which makes it feel quite clunky and unpolished in parts. The performances of the young amateur cast members are a mixed bag.

However, "Gran Torino" is -- in structure, subject and payoff -- wholeheartedly whole·heart·ed  
adj.
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.



whole
 a classic story; a modern western set in post-racial America. Unlike the period-piece "Changeling" -- a flawed, yet engaging picture spoilt by Angelina Jolie's overblown o·ver·blown  
v.
Past participle of overblow.

adj.
1.
a. Done to excess; overdone: overblown decorations.

b.
 performance -- Eastwood's latest work is lean, mean with no frills and real pathos.

What makes this semi-archetypal story vivacious and greatly entertaining is Eastwood's performance; a throwback throwback

see atavism.
 to the ruthless, unbending lawmen and outlaws he played in his prolific career.

His fury and restlessness are delectably communicated in every twitch, sneer, rumbling and never-ending torrent of jaw-dropping slurs. In the film's most talked-about scene, where he tells the gang -- in the most sinister of tones -- to "Get off my lawn," there isn't an ounce of doubt that this is one angry dude you don't want to mess with.

Why does Eastwood's performance feel so liberating? Well, I guess that in this day and age where everything and everyone is judged from the political-correctness prism, Walt emerges as a rebel; a pariah and a samurai, a lone cowboy in a modern world.

At a time when social hypocrisy seems to be the norm, Eastwood's character stands out as a relic of a bygone era. He has nothing to hide; what you see is simply what you get. He doesn't give a damn Verb 1. give a damn - show no concern or interest; always used in the negative; "I don't give a hoot"; "She doesn't give a damn about her job"
care a hang, give a hang, give a hoot
 what others think of him. He might be vulgar, aggressive and chauvinistic, but he's true to himself, and he continues to abide by To stand to; to adhere; to maintain.

See also: Abide
 values that no longer have a place in this world.

The first two-thirds of the film are pure fun, painted with broad brushstrokes to produce a top-notch crowd-pleasing romp. The last part takes an acute detour, allowing Eastwood to expound ex·pound  
v. ex·pound·ed, ex·pound·ing, ex·pounds

v.tr.
1. To give a detailed statement of; set forth: expounded the intricacies of the new tax law.

2.
 on the moral themes he's continuously explored in past films -- futility of violence, taking the law in one's hand In one's possession or keeping.
At one's risk, or peril; as, I took my life in my hand s>.

See also: Hand Hand
 and the agonizing road to faith and redemption.

Several comparisons have been made between "Gran Torino" and John Wayne's last movie "The Shootist" (1976) where he plays a dying gunslinger Gunslinger

A high-strung portfolio manager who, looking for high returns, invests in very high-risk stock.

Notes:
Stay away from these guys, or they could end up shooting you in the foot!
 attempting to have an honorable and meaningful death. The comparison is quite valid, but I believe that "Gran Torino" is a superior picture, mainly because of Eastwood's richer and more complex legacy.

There's a line near the end of the film that echoes "Unforgiven's" iconic "It's a hell of a thing, killing a man." Right at that moment, we finally see Kowalski for who he really is; a troubled man haunted by death, mistakes and regrets, burdened by guilt and his failure to understand life and truly live it.

"Gran Torino" ultimately feels like Eastwood's last chance to redeem himself, to avow that there's nothing glorious or meaningful behind killing and bloodshed.

The first part of "Gran Torino" is the most fun I've had in the movies this year. The last part of the film left me with a strange feeling; a longing for the certainty of a time and a place that only exists in Eastwood's face. As much as I'd love to see him act again, I can't imagine a better, more perfect conclusion for Eastwood, the actor, than "Gran Torino."

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Apr 3, 2009
Words:1100
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