One More Time...
Here we go.... one last time... wish us luck.
As i begin this entry, I am listening to Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" and encouraging people to see this film. Alot seem to think I'm in my usual "OMFG THAT MOVIES WAS SOOOO FUCKING AWESOME" mode. It almost frustrates me because I'm afraid my friends will write it off, or not take my words seriously. It's not often that I talk to people when I'm this deeply touched, but after seeing this film, I'm not afraid of letting people know how I feel about this film.
2008 was a year where I learned something very important. I spent most of the year fleshing out my zombie story, and doing a rather slow job of it. The thing is, zombie stories have been done millions of times already. What was I gonna do to make things different? But, in June, I saw Wall-E. Wall-E made me see something. The love story had been done millions of times before too, but this one had me hooked. Why? I generally hate love stories. What did it was the characters. The characters were so well fleshed out and lovable that it didn't matter that this scenario had been played out so much before. You couldn't help but fall in love with Wall-E and EVA because they were written so well. Soon after, I decided to put more focus on the characters of my story; interjecting them with more flavor so to speak.
Soon after, after years of encouragement from my friends, I saw Firefly. I didn't want to for a long time because I detested the overrated Buffy TV show, which was also created by Firefly director Joss Whedon, and hated him for what he did to the Alien franchise when he wrote Alien: Resurrection. But I finally caved and borrowed it from a friend... and I was blown away. Not by the story itself, coz the space cowboy thing has been done before. It was, once again, the rich characters. These characters were so well written, so loved by their creator, that it showed like nothing I had ever seen before. You literally love these characters. There are moments that you get goosebumps at how well these characters come across. This made me further focus on the characters of my story and helped me eventually decide that the story needs more work, as a new bench mark had been set for me.
Gran Torino is the exclamation point at the end of 2008, and my nearly year long lesson. While Wall-E, The Dark Knight, and Firefly all have magnificently fleshed out characters that shine in their own ways, Clint Eastwood did something that is very rare: he made you love someone you should hate. Clint's character is an asshole. He's a hermit, a racist, vulgar, cranky... the kind of guy your friends in the local neighborhood tell you to avoid. But you love him. This character is incredibly flawed, yet even before he starts to see the open-hearted change in him, you still are captivated by the character.
Alot of it has to do with not only the writing, but the character's presenter. Only Clint could have done this. It hit me when he gave his "Get off my lawn!" speech. No one could have done it as menacingly chilling as him. I was literally in awe at that moment. The way he spoke, the look on his face... I felt the fear of the gang member who were staring down the barrel of his M1. I can't recall anywhere a speech that was delivered so strikingly other than maybe George C. Scott's opening monologue to "Patton".
The story is really breathtaking. Normally, this is only a notion I reserve for films with themes that strike close to home with me; movies that parallel emotions or circumstances that I have been a part of. Though I do identify with the young boy of the film to a certain degree, the topics such as gangs, being used, surrogate families, and death (in the ways expressed in the film) are all foreign concepts to me. But I think the film almost takes that into consideration, and sets up understanding, something few films do. The story really has been done before (but what stories now a days haven't been), but its all in the story telling method. You just gotta see it to understand.
Movies like this make me wonder if I am getting old. Not just in body, but in mind. It makes me look back on movies I liked when I was younger, and I realize how flawed the writing was in those. They rely on cheap, shallow techniques to flesh out their characters... if at all. Yet I loved those movies. It's hard for me to go back to Independence Day or Mortal Kombat and enjoy them. Maybe instant gratification doesn't do it for me any more. This movie was well written, and extremely well acted (atleast on Eastwood's part), and above all, well directed. More film makers should take this as inspiration, as Gran Torino now makes Clint Eastwood one of my favorite film makers.