Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gran Torino

Sue: We’re having a barbecue; you want to come over?
Walt: What do you think?
Sue: There’s tons of food!
Walt: Yeah, just keep your hands off my dog.
Sue: No worries, we only eat cats.
Walt: Really?
Sue: No, I’m kidding, you moron! C’mon, you can be my special guest.

Gran Torino is actor-director Clint Eastwood’s critically acclaimed film about the Hmong immigrant experience in Midwestern America. Eastwood plays Walt, a curmudgeonly (some would say mean-spirited) retiree whose wife has just passed away. Harboring strong prejudices against Asians because of his combat in the Korean War, he nevertheless comes to the aid of his Hmong neighbors when a gang threatens their son, Thao (Vang). Reluctantly, Walt becomes involved in their lives, befriending their daughter, Sue (Her) and mentoring Thao. In the end, Walt decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop the gang’s relentless pursuit of the boy he has come to see as his responsibility.

When Walt first intervenes to protect Thao, the family and neighbors express their appreciation by leaving food (and flowers) on Walt’s porch, continuing despite his protestations. He finally accedes to their gifts: “Certainly better than beef jerky, I’ll tell you”—and indeed, Hmong food, loving prepared and presented, would definitely be that. Originating in the mountain regions of southern china, the Hmong migrated to Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Laos; during the Vietnam War, they fought alongside American and South Vietnamese troops, and many immigrated to the United States after the war. Hmong food features a wide variety of spices and herbs, including chilis, cilantro, garlic, green onion, mint, ginger, oyster sauce, hoisin, and fish sauce. Some traditional Hmong dishes are green papaya salad (tuav gaub), egg rolls (kab yob), pickled vegetables, steamed cabbage, stuffed rice crepes (fawm kauv), stir-fried yam leaves with onion, bitter melon with chicken wings, sausage, and beef noodle soup; meat is served in small portions, and vegetables are steamed, boiled, or stir fried.

When Sue invites Walt over for a barbecue, he discovers a host of foods with which he is unfamiliar: the film depicts egg rolls, roast pig, barbecued chicken, and chicken dumplings, among the other offerings. As Walt tells Sue, “You people are nuts. But the food looks good, smells good too.” She responds matter-of-factly, “Well of course, it’s Hmong food.” Astonishing himself and his host, he asks, “OK, can I come back for seconds?”

Released 2009
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Dave Johannson & Nick Schenk; screenplay by Nick Schenk

Starring Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski, Christopher Carley as Father Janovich, Bee Vang as Thao Vang Lor, Ahney Her as Sue Lor, Brian Haley as Mitch Kowalski, Geraldine Hughes as Karen Kowalski, Dreama Walker as Ashley Kowalski, Brian Howe as Steve Kowalski, John Carroll Lynch as Berber Martin, William Hill as Tim Kennedy, Brooke Chia Thao as Vu, Chee Thao as Grandma, Choua Kue as Youa, Scott Eastwood as Trey, and Xia Soua Chang as Kor Khue

Awards: 2009 David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Film; 2008 NBR Awards for Best Actor (Eastwood) and Best Screenplay-Original


Unknown said...

Nice action movie..

Unknown said...

Would be nice to have some recepies of the food shown in the film.

Unknown said...

The women in movie most are beautiful