Tag Archives: Cars

NEW ON DVD: Gran Torino Comes Driving onto DVD On June 9th

JUNE 9th 2009: Warner Brothers is releasing the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino The Widescreen Edition onto DVD, ON DEMAND and for download via cable/satellite providers and iTunes. Gran Torino marked the first return to filmmaking for venerable actor Clint Eastwood since his Oscar winning film Million Dollar Baby. I liked this movie when it came out in theaters and my opinion of this movie has not changed. It’s no clunker, it’s Eastwood at his finest.

grantorino

In Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays the recently widowed and retired auto worker, Walt Kawalski.  Kawalski is also a man who is deeply set in his own ways and coldly distant from his two sons and their families. The kind of man who keeps his M-1 rifle cleaned and ready for action to defend what he clearly knows is his and unquestionably believes is right.

Kawalski, an embittered Korean war veteran with a deep distrust and dislike for Asian people finds himself dealing with unwelcome changes in his neighborhood in the form of Vietnamese families moving into his once solidly Caucasian world. As Gran Torino unfolds Walt Kowalski rescues his next door neighbor a young Hmong girl named Sue Lor (Ahney Her) and as he  finds himself becoming friends with the spunky, outspoken young girl, Walt also finds himself at first very begrudgingly taking on the task of reforming her teenaged brother Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang), who tried to steal Kowalski’s prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino.

From the opening scenes of Walt and his family at the funeral for Mrs. Kawalski to Walt’s final and dramatic scenes on screen, Eastwood delivers a solid performance and bring a a believability to the character that pulls the audience into the story with ease. Pretty much everyone knows a guy like Walt Kawalski and that familiarity embodied in the equally familiar form of the laconic and soft spoken Clint Eastwood makes it all fall into place. The onscreen chemistry between Eastwood and these two young actors is part of what makes Gran Torino become such a compelling and driving force of a movie. Kawalski’s journey of self discovery and widened sense of the world around him is embodied in the friendships he makes with them and their family.  Gran Torino, which was written by Nick Shenck from a screenplay by Dave Johannson, is filled with real people and with the gritty realism that comes from the world of everyday hard working middle class people, not from some smaltzy heroics or preachy zenlike characters.

Gran Torino is a solid ride for anyone looking for something with ‘meat and potatoes’ to it.

On the down side to what I consider a DVD worth spending money on is, even though I am a woman who is in love with muscle and sports cars, I found the special features offered on the DVD to be a bit lacking for the general audience. Both special features, Manning the Wheel: The Meaning of Manhood as Reflected in American Car Culture and Gran Torino: More than a Car, are decidedly geared towards male audiences.

Gran Torino is Rated R for adult content, language and situations and is available on DVD at Warner Brothers Home Video.

MOVIE REVIEW: Fast & Furious is Exactly That!

The original cast of The Fast and the Furious reunites for this fourth film in the series – and it does exactly what it says on the label. Under the leadership of director Justin Lin, who also directed the Tokyo Drift instalment of the series, we get a car movie that will please fans of the previous movies.

fast-and-furious

The plot – Paul Walker’s FBI Agent O’Connor and Vin Diesel’s Dominic Toretta are after a drug kingpin named Braga for their own reasons – is merely a device to let cars race [and, occasionally crash, smash or blow up]; guys brawl and women to wear skimpy clothing. It’s not Oscar® bait; neither is it indie art. It’s a popcorn movie of the most obvious order.

The races and various other stunts are different enough to feel fresh and get your adrenaline rushing. The stars – Walker, Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster – perform about as woodenly as they ever have, but that doesn’t matter. The villains [John Ortiz’s Campos, and Laz Alonso’s Fenix Rising] get the benefit of being portrayed by able character actors and chew the scenery admirably.

Fast & Furious is one of those movies that are just well enough made to work for its target audience. It’s nothing to write home about, but if you’re looking for a car/brawl/explosion movie with skimpily clad women, this is your movie. It probably won’t matter if you forget it mere seconds after you leave the theater.

Final Grade: C+

PIXAR’s Cars Spawns Multi-Channel Cars Toons Series of Shorts

Disney•Pixar’s Cars Toons, a new animated short series directed by Academy Award®-winner John Lasseter, and starring Lightning McQueen’s rusty but trusty friend Mater, will be presented on, Disney Channel, Toon Disney and ABC Family beginning Monday, October 27.

Mater

“Cars Toons” are directed by John Lasseter, (director on Cars, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story). Victor Navone (animator on Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Monsters, Inc.) and Rob Gibbs (story artist on Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc. and Toy Story 2) are co-directors. Kori Rae (associate producer on The Incredibles and Monsters Inc.) is the producer.

The shorts premiere as follows on Toon Disney (all times ET/PT):

Monday, October 27 (6:56 p.m.)

“Rescue Squad Mater” — Mater is a fire truck that rescues Lightning McQueen from a burning building.  When McQueen is rushed to the hospital, he discovers that Mater is a doctor, too.

Tuesday, October 28 (6:57 p.m.)

“Mater the Greater” — Mater is a famous daredevil who does all kinds of stunts. And Lightning McQueen becomes an unwilling participant in Mater’s greatest stunt ever.

Wednesday, October 29 (6:57 p.m.)

“El Materdor” — Mater is a famous bulldozer fighter in Spain.  He’s so good, he’s able to fend off multiple bulldozers at once.  Lightning McQueen joins Mater in this Tall Tale just as things are at their worst.

Disney Channel will present all three shorts throughout the day on Saturday, November 1. ABC Family will present the shorts beginning Tuesday, December 23 during the network’s annual “25 Days of Christmas” programming event