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Gran Torino


9 February 2021


Chosen director is Clint Eastwood and the film is Gran Torino made in 2008. The film was not nominated for any Oscars yet it won best foreign film at many other events around the world including France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Argentina and Brazil.

Clint Eastwood was born in 1930 – aged 90. He has appeared in over 50 films since 1950’s TV Rawhide where he had a supporting role. His big break for a staring role in a movie came in 1963 when he offered the role in Fistful of Dollars. The film was the first of the Spaghetti Westerns and was filmed in a remote region of Spain. Eastwood's lines were dubbed and the film released in Italy. It was not until 1967 the the film was released in the US.

Beginning with the thriller Play Misty for Me(1971), Eastwood has directed over 30 films. Eastwood was frustrated by directors' insistence that scenes be re-shot multiple times and perfected and this led to his fast paced directing style. He usually avoids actors' rehearsing and prefers to complete most scenes on the first take. Consequently he would often complete filming more quickly and within a tighter budget. He has won 4 Oscars for either best Director or Best Picture – he has not won as best actor although he has been nominated twice. One could argue that he should be better known for his directing than his acting. He was offered the role of James Bond after Sean Connery – however declined the role saying it should be played by an English actor.

Gran Torino was shot over 5 weeks in Detroit. Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) a Polish immigrant, holds onto his prejudices despite the changes in his Michigan neighborhood and the world around him. Kowalski is a grumpy, tough-minded, unhappy old man who can't get along with either his kids or his neighbour. He is a Korean War veteran whose prize possession is a 1972 Gran Torino which he keeps in mint condition. His neighbour Thao Lor, a young Hmong teenager under pressure from his gang member cousin, tries to steal his Gran Torino, Kowalski sets out to reform the youth.

The film features a large Hmong American cast, The Hmong were war refugees resettled in the U.S. following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975. Of the entire cast, only a few were established actors; the Hmong actors had relatively little experience, and some were not proficient in English. Among the cast there is one of Eastwood's younger sons, Scott (plays Sue’s boyfriend in one scene). Eastwood's oldest son, Kyle provides the score.

The overall reception to the film in the club was positive, however, there was a feeling that Clint Eastwood can only play one role whether it be the man with no name or Dirty Harry.

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Feb 10, 2021

Great research and intro from Nick. This had the makings of a great film - traumitised veteran recently bereaved, years of guilt, racist who goes through a change in heart, finding in his immigrant neighbours those things he missed from his own family. And the closing where, terminally ill he sacrifices his own life to give a better life to his new friends. BUT I don't think Eastwood is a nuanced enough actor to carry that transformation off - he was a caricature of Dirty Harry meets the Spaghetti Western man with no name. And he definitely isn't a skilled enough director to do justice to such a potentially interesting story.

Enjoyed the evening and the film is well worth…


Feb 09, 2021

Really enjoyed the film and the set up. Most respectful! Thank you Nick.

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