Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Side Career as a Movie Critic

For three years now, I've been the movie critic for The Little Paper of San Saba. I do have an "in". Ray's Aunt Pat is the Patty Hearst of publishing in San Saba, Texas and she needs filler. Hey, writing is writing and being published in print is awesome. The circulation is a tad limited (feed stores and a diner), and there is no movie theater in San Saba. Why let that stop me?

My reviews are sporadic and they certainly don't cover a lot of genres. No teen romps, minimal Seth Rogen exposure, no slashers, and no Jim Carrey. I enjoy a lot of the independent films. Because I get to pick and choose, I obviously attend films that I'm fairly predisposed to like. Thus my reviews lean towards the positive.

I also prefer to pay four dollars ($4) at the Tinseltown Cinema in Grapevine, TX. For four bucks, one can be entertained and amused by trash. Perhaps my standards aren't incredibly high after all. If I say a movie is worth full price, then take notice and head to the theater. Full price AND popcorn (smuggle in your soda) means the flick is a doozy. Believe me, there aren't many of those around.

So, below is an example of one of my film critiques. This does not take days to write. I slapdash it off to Pat in an email and she's happy because she doesn't have dig up filler jokes.

Ray and I both enjoyed our Saturday matinee. Hope you get a kick out of the review, and go see this movie. Don't wait for DVD.


One curl of the lip and one growl. That's all it takes to know Clint Eastwood is in fine form in the movie Gran Torino. He directs it with a sleek touch and, as a star, he shines bright. We first meet him at the funeral of his wife. He's annoyed by his sons, annoyed by his grandkids (the teen girl is in a midriff, for pete's sake, and the boy's wearing a football jersey), and he's annoyed by the very youthful priest.

Further annoyance occurs back at his old house. It's in a "dying" neighborhood, now filled with an ethnic community and gangs run roughshod. Walt (Eastwood) fought in Korea and is perturbed by his Asian neighbors. Foul mouthed, Walt uses every derogatory word possible as he slouches through his days, drinking beer and obviously feeling rather lost without his wife. He's awakened one evening by a sound in his garage. He finds the neighbor Asian boy, Tao, trying to steal his prized possession - a 1972 Gran Torino. The boy's lucky Walt doesn't blast him with his M-1 rifle, and he manages to escape. In the next day or so, the local gang comes back to continue to recruit Tao, who tries to resist. The commotion brings Walt out front ready to shoot them all. The gang leaves and the neighbors are grateful to Walt for saving the boy's life. They bring him gifts and slowly weasel into his life.

Tao's sister, Susie, is a bright intelligent young girl and she's determined to win Walt over and teach him her people's (the Hmong) ways. She puts up with his guff and dishes it back. The family wants Tao to pay back his life debt, so the teen does chores for a week for Walt. The kid is smart and needs a man to show him how to fix things, how to stand up for himself, and how to gain some self confidence. In the meantime, the gang keeps poking and picking, and Walt fights back on his neighbors' behalf. Unfortunately the situation escalates out of control.

The interaction between Walt, his neighbors, his family, and the priest is all intertwined with the seedy neighborhood and gang wars. Walt's history and demeanor are a torch ready to be lit. As Walt grows to appreciate Tao and Susie and to actually care about their lives, he realizes how much he hasn't opened to his family or to much of life. He's lived with a sense of duty and a nagging guilt. The buildup of tension is palpable and silence filled the theater as we all braced ourselves for the detonation.

Gran Torino is a hard R with foul language and violence. However, it is an excellent film, filled with strong characters, humor, and a very current story line. Clint Eastwood is at the top of his game, at age 78, and should be nominated for an Oscar. This movie growls just like Walt and his sublime Gran Torino.


I enjoy movies and my side career as a critic is a bonus.

Will write for popcorn!

1 comment:

  1. Joanne, you never cease to make me laugh. Only you could be a movie critic for town without a movie theater.
    Great reviews