Recommendations: Gran Torino

‘I would like to grow up to be like Clint Eastwood. Eastwood the director, Eastwood the actor, Eastwood the invincible, Eastwood the old man. What other figure in the history of the cinema has been an actor for 53 years, a director for 37, won two Oscars for direction, two more for best picture, plus the Thalberg Award, and at 78 can direct himself in his own film and look meaner than hell? None, that’s how many.’

Roger Ebert wrote the above words in his review of Gran Torino that precisely defines your own emotion. How in the god’s name does this old man manages to pull off feats like this is something we’ll probably never understand. George Orwell wrote about James Joyce that ‘he makes me feel like a eunuch.’ My point precisely.

Gran Torino tells a story of a racist, bellicose ex-service man and an autoworker who befriends an Asian family in the most unlikely turn of events. Despite the story, direction or emotional depth of his work, two things always nagged every time when watching Eastwood films: Doesn’t he use any of the latest editing software at all? And doesn’t he hire any composer for background score? The first suspicion was perhaps unfounded but the second one is increasingly getting stronger. Clint Eastwood himself wrote music for his previous film Changeling, and his son Kyle Eastwood has written music for Gran Torino.

Especially after watching endlessly noisy, rapidly cut and edited, hurriedly paced Tamil films, Eastwood is like retreating to an oasis. You’ll understand this when you watch not just Gran Torino, but any of the Clint Eastwood directions. They tell you that great films are not about speed of editing or racy presentation or deafening music. They are about great stories and great acting and confident themes. Watching Eastwood films are like meditation. They calm you down so much to restore your faith in humanity.