Image for Film Reviews: Milk, Gran Torino

Film Reviews: Milk, Gran Torino

Written by Alison Myers on January 29, 2009

Alison Myers reviews ‘Milk’ starring Sean Penn, and ‘Gran Torino’ starring non other than film legend Clint Eastwood.

Milk

milkIs the  story of Harvey Milk, a gay rights activist and politician who was assassinated in San Francisco in 1978. If you just think I’ve given away the end, go and see this movie and you’ll be wondering, like I am, why you hadn’t heard of this guy before. It’s taken time for such an important story to make it to the screen but at least they got it right.   The ever unpredictable Gus van Sant has managed to meld amazing performances with jaw-dropping archival footage to make an absorbing and passionate film. The entire cast is amazing but special mentions must go to Sean Penn, who is my pick for the Best Actor Oscar, and James Franco who has finally proved he can act. The powerful performances are enhanced by the  artful interweaving of archival footage which also authenticates and grounds this, at times, incredible story. 4.5 stars

Gran Torino

gran-torinoClint Eastwood has been one of my must-see directors ever since ‘Million Dollar Baby’. I was rather nervous about ‘Gran Torino’ as the trailer made it look like ‘Dirty Harry: The Retirement Years’ but Eastwood is in fine form as both actor and director of this film about a Korean War veteran and his Hmong neighbours in the suburbs of Detroit.  While ‘Gran Torino’ covers many familiar Eastwood themes – violence, the church and modern mores – the characters and the dialogue are fresh and entertaining. Eastwood has taken a risk in casting inexperienced Hmong actors in the leading roles. Bee Vang is occasionally out of his depth as Thao, however Ahney Her provides spark and flair as Sue.  While the film has its clunky moments – most of which are in the trailer – it manages to avoid cliche.   It’s not one of Eastwood’s best but it’s still awfully good. 4 stars.

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