Friday, 20 February 2009
Gran Torino & Anvil (WO 20.02.09)
They may not be up for Oscars but two new movies this week are both ace. The first actor you’d put on a Mount Rushmore of Hollywood is Clint Eastwood. He’s been iconic for over 40 years and his new movie, Gran Torino plays somewhat with his well known persona. He is Walt Kowalski, a misanthropic Korean War veteran who after his wife dies is forced to deal with the Hmong immigrants from South East Asia, who move in next door, in his neighbourhood. When a young person tries to steal his classic 1972 Gran Torino, Walt gets inextricably linked with his neighbours and a growing dispute with a local Asian gang. I don’t want to ruin the plot of this understated and lovely picture. Clint plays Walt as a tough, irascible and extremely racist character: nearly every word that comes out his mouth is a racial epithet. Walt both represents a certain generation of American and the character also seems to work as you are finding yourself thinking of Dirty Harry and all those Westerns. But naturally the vigilantism of old is updated with the more considered humanism that Eastwood showed us in Letters from Iwa Jima. Beautifully judged and acted, Gran Tornino is directed in the lucid, straight forward style we've come to expect from him. Highly recommended, especially as the most comedic Clint Eastwood performance you will ever see! If it turns out to be his last acting role, what a great way to exit stage left.
Anvil; The Story of Anvil
Miraculously, a documentary has emerged that covers much of the territory of ‘This is Spinal Tap’. Tap is probably my number one comedy of all time, so this is high praise indeed. Toronto school friends, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner (bizarrely Spinal Tap was directed by a Rob Reiner) formed a rock band called Anvil in the early ‘80s. In those days they did indeed ROCK, influencing big names like Anthrax and Slayer with their album “Metal on Metal”. Then it all fell apart. This film is the story of childhood dreams reignited, then peed on, then re-kindled again. 20 years on they go on tour in Romania, with a ludicrous Swiss-Italian fan-turned manager; with hilarious consequences. Scenes unfold that are so farcical, legend has it the camera crew took the director aside to find out if any it was actually unscripted. It was. Anvil could be the funniest and most moving film of 2009. Do try and catch it.