Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gran Torino—A Great Ride with a Good Old Bastard

Last night we watched Gran Torino. Clint Eastwood plays Walter Kowalski, a bitter old man with nothing good to say about the world or anyone in it since the early ‘70s, except that he married the best woman on earth. The story starts with her funeral and his attitude decrements from there on interaction with his ungrateful sons and grandkids, the boyish priest who promised his wife he’d hear his confession, and the foreigners degrading the neighborhood.

His disposition doesn’t seem salvageable due to some unknown baggage he’s been carrying since the Korean War, and worsens with an attempted theft of his 1972 Gran Torino. But the situation starts a turn after he intervenes in a gang incident protecting the Hmong family next door. Other Asian families in the area honor him as a hero with gifts of food and flowers—which he precedes to toss in the trash. He begins to soften after accepting an invitation to the neighbor’s party only after he realizes he’s out of beer himself.

Walter’s honesty in expressing his wrath with life and everyone affecting, or confirming, his redneck awareness is far from politically correct (refreshingly so), very colorful – and hilarious to those who know today’s world is built by ex-military construction worker sons-a-bitches.

You’ll learn to love the main characters of this film, despite their human condition. It is a story about hearts opening with the maturity of diverse relations, and tolerance of blatant imperfection. It’s about learning the fine line between rough-shod walking the calf-paths of the mind and doing what’s right because someone’s got to do it.

I’m giving it the 5-Star (Really-Loved-It) Netflix rating.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


It started with random thoughts that coalesced into a review -- of a movie, and of my writing life . . .

We watched "Adaptation" again last night. On Netflix I gave it a 5 rating--Loved it! It's a movie about the writing life, writers block and the freedom of creative expression. It's about love and passion, about our connections with the origins of being--our very genesis. And about how our culture would suppress the drive of Soul.

Yet that expression does ultimately prevail. It's a story of hope and beauty, and daring to live ones passion. I love this flick, and the title says it all--Adaptation. In this world of hazard and suppression--man-made and natural--we can not only survive, but thrive. The focal point of the movie is the fragile life balance of a rare flower, the Ghost Orchid.

Waking up with variations on the movie topics rolling in my mind, the voice spoke: You can write lightly or with rigidity. Like the wingtips of an eagle, or with the weight of a freight train. You have the freedom to write by formula, and never use it. Run on the track, or lay down a new one. Or soar to unknown heights.

As I write this, the only blossom I see in the early morning light of the bay window is a large, pink orchid. It says, Patience is a virtue. So is decision. I've seen the ghost, and fear no more. I write as I like.