Clint deserves a place alongside Luis Bunuel for his treatment of the Catholic church. And I liked his speech with the empty chair at the Republican convention! I don't think the RNC is going to invite him again, tho. They didn't expect him to slam Obama for being a warmonger! Way to mix it up, Clint! Keep callin' 'em like you see 'em!
No doubt "Gran Torino" is an uncomfortable watch in 2019. I might also find the film 'problematic' if it weren't for the fact that Eastwood portrays Kowalski's estrangement with his family as so complete. There is no hope of reconciliation or redemption with his own kin. Kowalski is completely cut off from them, only to form a stronger familial bond with his neighbors. And Eastwood finds the perfect note to end on.
I think that if made by 98% of the directors out there, Gran Torino would be an unmitigated disaster (some think it is already _is_ a disaster). I personally find something impressive about seeing an arguably cliché-ridden movie put across on the sheer charisma and determination of an actor/director. This is the "Unforgiven" for Eastwood's Dirty Harry character.
Emotionally, politically and socially, this is a very interesting film. These subjects are often approached from trenches, presented in leftwing or rightwing wilful clichés that do not intend to go beyond their worldviews. It's harder to get this point (the agenda) precisely because Eastwood is such a complex and interesting felow. And it all seems more real and human and genuine. Neighbors do need to earn respect.
I believe it's this film that shows Eastwood's versatility and charisma better than any of his previous (granted I have only seen few). This shows he can portray a character that seems to plan out every one of his actions and sentences collectively and intricately rather than acting on immediate blunt force. Proves he's an American treasure, far more filled with life than half the twentysomethings in cinema today.
If the old wise master of chiaroscuro buried his cowboy hat and pointed at the false myths and heroism of the west in "unforgiven", this time he clearly wanted to follow that same pattern with the macho cop-army man-dirty harry racist, neo fascist that he used to play in his prime years.
Even though I like Manohla Dargis more for her excellent taste than for any specific insight, she nails it here: "We’ve seen this western before, though not quite. Because this isn’t John Wayne near the end of the 20th century, but Clint Eastwood at the start of the still-new 21st, remaking the image of the hero for one more and perhaps final time, one generation of Americans making way for the next."
They truly don't make films like this in America any more. Such a refreshing watch especially from an Auteur of this stature who films always seem to be Oscar fodder. I haven't this much fun at an indie film since i was a kid.