I don't see any connection with Vietnam, man E-mail
Written by Chalupa   
Sunday, 29 November 2009 00:01
I don't see any connection with Vietnam, man | Notes on the Cycle

I Don't' See Any Connection With Vietnam, Man.

Chalupa
Lebowski Podcast

I don't see nearly enough movies these days. The special lady friend and I used to go out and see something in the theaters every weekend or so. In fact, sometimes we even saw two films a week. Unfortunately life and the economy eventually caught up with us and now we try to see around one film a month. For all those other movies we used to see, Netflix has come to our rescue.

Last week I finally saw Clint Eastwood's 2008 Gran Torino. You might remember The Dude drove a Gran Torino so the title definitely caught my interest. While there isn't necessarily a literal connection between Gran Torino and The Big Lebowski...my point is that it's still worth watching.

Clint Eastwood is a force of nature in Hollywood. Starting in TV and film back in 1955, he worked his way up to a writing credit (A Fistful of Dollars) in 1964, and started writing and performing soundtrack material (Paint Your Wagon) in 1969. In 1971 Eastwood directed his first film (The Beguiled: The Storyteller) and in 1982 he starting producing with the film Firefox. I'm not going to go on and on about Eastwood's career. I'm by no means an expert, I just looked this stuff up on the Internet Movie Database. In the acting category alone, he has 66 entries. My point is this guy isn't a lightweight, and shares some directing similarities with the Coen Brothers.

Gran Torino is about a crotchety old man, played by Eastwood, whose wife has just died. He's short-tempered and bitter. You might even imagine Walt Kowalski, Eastwood's character, as a much older Walter Sobchek. Kowalski is a veteran of the Korean War and doesn't take too kindly to disrespect, frivolousness, or his Asian neighbors. Walt is definitely an old-school kind of guy and doesn't have too much to live for in this world.

As this film unfolds with Walt's blatant racism and disgust for next door neighbors that he sees as rif-raf, we see a wonderful story of redemption. A co-worker of mine thought Eastwood wasn't right for the main role here. He thought Walt should have been played by an older, more gruff performer. I totally disagree. I think Eastwood was perfect for the part. In fact, I even laughed through much of the film. This isn't a comedy by any means, but I was just tickled to be re-living older Eastwood movies through this Walt guy. I love Eastwood in Westerns. In fact I'd say Gran Torino is a modern Western in the same way the Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars and Last Man Standing are all the same story. The elements are all there if you look for them and Clint brought back pieces of his classic self for this role.

So what does this all have to do with The Big Lebowski? Well, there's not a literal connection, but that doesn't mean you should pass the film by either. There's an awesome car (the Torino), a neighborhood kid tries to steal the car (Larry), an old veteran (Walter) who still knows how to use a gun, some young ruffians terrorizing the neighborhood (Nihilists), ungrateful children (Maude) and an ending that's sad and happy at the same time. Now this definitely sounds like something you need to watch, am I wrong?

Comments (2)
  • TIMMAH  - The Grand Torino
    avatar

    One of the best aspects of that film is the way that it utilises the City of Detroit as a character. In an effort to pull business back to the Motor City, Detroit is trying to welcome film crews. Ol' Clint was the first one on the boat, and I think it worked really well with bringing out who Walt is.

  • Chalupa
    avatar

    Oh definitely. I also liked how they showed the blatant change in neighborhood that just widened the generational and cultural gap between Walt and his neighbors. They may have explicitly said this in the film, but I got the feeling he was one of the last Caucasians left on his block.

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