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67. Gran Torino (#157)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.

Korean War Veteran Walt Kowalski lives out his life in the deteriorating suburbs of Detroit, disconnected from his family and whiling away his days drinking beer on his porch. Initially aggressive and belligerent towards the Hmong family who moved in next door, Kowalski finds himself drawn into the lives of the two youngest children, forming an unlikely bond and forcing him to reassess his opinion of the community.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 157th best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Stuck in the Moment: The Mood for a (Particular) Movie…

I’ve been thinking a bit, lately, about how I form an opinion about a particular film. Of course, it should be somewhat objective. I should be able to take out any possibly subjective influences and divorce a movie from any of those countless outside factors, to judge it entirely on its own merits. (Or, as the case might be, its lack of merits.) However, I am honest enough to admit that this isn’t always the case. There are any number of reasons I might feel a particular way about the movie. I find J. Edgar interesting to place in the context of Clint Eastwood’s body of work. I approached Cabin of the Woods with an admitted fondness for cheesy horror. I’ll admit that these facets colour my opinions somewhat – I am more likely to respond to a film that resonates with me on something I feel strongly about.

However, sometimes that influence factor isn’t anything to do with the movie in question at all. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder, whether my opinion is down to something as arbitrary as the mood I was in when I watched the film.

I will not have my tastes subjected to this sort of double-guessing!

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Pointing Eastwood: Clint Eastwood’s Moral Compass…

Clint Eastwood is a fascinating director. It’s hard to imagine, watching those early Spaghetti Westerns, that the badass cowboy would emerge as one of the great American directors. To be honest, while he wasn’t the first major actor to work behind the camera, I think that Eastwood really paved the way for established actors being taken seriously as directors. I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by Eastwood’s work, even when it isn’t necessarily completely satisfying as a viewing experience. I’ve still found something interesting and compelling in most of his films, even if they aren’t brilliant in and of themselves. I think that Eastwood manages a thematic consistency that’s very rare these days, and it’s possible to see a lot of the director’s moral philosophy in his work.

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Non-Review Review: Gran Torino

I think it’s fair to say that Hollywood tends lose interest in actors and characters when they pass a certain threshold, age-wise. Perhaps it’s representative of a general societal lack of interest in the elderly, or maybe it’s because old people don’t pay to see movies, but it’s very rare to see an actor hang around past their use by date. So rare, in fact, that people balked when Pixar announced that Up would follow a pensioner. In many ways we’re lucky that Clint Eastwood has held on to his influence in Hollywood, as I imagine any other director or star would have had great difficulty getting a film like Gran Torino made. Yes, the film has a few shortcomings, but it’s a stunning condemnation of the way that America tends to treat the outsiders, be they elderly or immigrants, but also a very effective character piece.

A very grumpy old man...

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Is the Terminator Franchise Terminated?

In the knowledge that Terminator: Salvation has ‘only’ taken in $71m at the US Box Office, having cost over $200m to make and market, prognosticators are rushing to pronounce the Terminator franchise as dead. The facts don’t look good – so far it has earned less than the previous franchise killer (the disappointing-in-so-many-ways Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), it is reviewing badly, and it got its ass handed to it by a Ben Stiller family comedy. This is surely bad news for Warner Brothers, the studio that produced the other $200m ‘dud’ of the year, Watchmen – but does it really signal the end for everyone’s favourite time-traveling robotic assassin?

No bones (or metallic endoskeleton) about it...

No bones (or metallic endoskeleton) about it...

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