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>PICTURE PALACE PREVIEW- GRAN TORINO

A certified cinematic legend, Clint Eastwood is etched into the popular consciousness as the Man with No Name, a brusque, raspy voiced tough guy whose actions speak louder than words.

The 78 year old icon has of course played many different roles throughout his fifty plus years in acting and directing but what springs to mind when one mentions his name is that of the mysterious loner in Sergio Leone’s classic Westerns or as the singular, unyielding force of righteousness that is Dirty Harry.

Eastwood’s remarkable work rate in recent years has yielded Oscar-winning results with the likes of Unforgiven, Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby and this year he follows the one-two of 2006’s Flag of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima with another double act.

First up Changeling, a 1920’s set kidnap drama starring Angelina Jolie in which he takes up directorial duties. Then in Gran Torino, he both helms and stars as a geriatric, gruff Harry Callahan type called into action when some local thugs try to steal his vintage ride.

The trailer shows us Eastwood at his most belligerent and hard-ass as a tough guy put out to pasture who reluctantly develops a relationship with his Asian neighbours after saving their teenage son from a gang beating. After standing up for the kid, he is seen as a hero by the local community and sparks off a feud with the gang.

While it seems ridiculous that man of his age would be able to take on adversaries more than 50 his junior, Clint puts it across convincingly enough here although it’s clear that this is not just another Eastwood action picture .

In fact it appears to be a solid combination of both tough melodrama and character study touching on themes of violence, old age, community and family and considering the raspy ones’ advancing age Gran Torino may be his best chance yet to earn a first acting Oscar.

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