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Gran Torino movie poster

Gran Torino

Genre: Action, Drama
Rated: R
Directed by:
Clint Eastwood
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley, Brian Haley, Geraldine Hughes
Released by: Warner Bros. Pictures

In Short: Clint Eastwood steps back in front of the camera and proves once again that he is Hollywood's consummate actor, giving yet another unforgettable performance in a great film.
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He's Back and Better Than Ever
Clint Eastwood Returns with a Vengeance

Clint Eastwood is an amazing filmmaker. Nearly 80 years old, the man just keeps on cruising along while making movies that are both brilliant and unforgettable. As a director, he released Changeling earlier this year, a compelling drama that recently garnered Angelina Jolie multiple acting nominations and Eastwood himself Best Picture accolades. That makes Gran Torino, his second film to release in 2008, all the more amazing. Eastwood creates two masterpieces in a single year with seeming ease, something much-younger filmmakers can only dream of doing. And with Gran Torino, he not only directs, but returns to the screen as the star after a four-year absence from acting.

And what a return it is, as he takes on the role of Walt Kowalski, a curmudgeonly racist retired Detroit autoworker and Korean War veteran whose neighborhood has been overrun by Asian immigrants. He's a bitter, mean man whose family dislikes him and whose neighbors hate him.

It's a lonely life that's spent keeping his house shipshape and his cherry 1972 Gran Torino in perfect condition, until he inadvertently becomes involved with the Hmong family living next door. As he comes to know the teenage boy and girl who live there and are struggling to avoid interaction with a local gang, his life is forever altered when violence shatters the once placid neighborhood.

Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino Doua Moua, Bee Vang, Sonny Vue and Elvis Thao in Gran Torino

The film's main co-stars, teens Bee Vang and Ahney Her, are both first-time film actors. Despite this, each give inspired performances under the tutelage of the legendary actor/director, deftly matching Eastwood's believable characterization of a man at the end of his life who finds redemption in his unexpected relationship with two strangers from a culture that seems completely foreign to him.

The brilliant acting and skillful storytelling of Gran Torino combine to offer a cinematic experience that will linger in your mind long after the screen goes dark, as Eastwood cleverly plays on past film personas (think Dirty Harry in particular) while exploring the inevitabilities of the aging process. It's a theme that only Clint Eastwood seems to be able to display through his art, as he clearly continues to remain at the top of his game despite his advancing age.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

PKR120808 (Updated: 12/19/08 KR)

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