Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doin' the French Mystique

Gran Torino: Marketed as a "get off mah lawn!" white-old-man's-revenge-fantasy movie, in fact this turns out to be an interesting exploration of race and migration in the Midwest. The initial racism shown by Clint Eastwood's character to his Hmong neighbours is tempered when he finds himself siding with the same neighbours against a Hmong youth gang, and indeed there is the implication in the later stages of the film that the Hmong are simply undergoing the same process of integration that Eastwood's own generation went through (he, and his friends, are all clearly the children or grandchildren of European migrants). The ending is reminiscent of The Shootist and The Man who Shot Liberty Valance, and yet also manages to be anti-violence.

Blazing Saddles: An old favourite of mine, but also part of the general questioning of the Western which took place in the 1960s and early 70s. Where Sergio Leone, at the same time, was showing us a real, more brutal West, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was challenging the genre's boundaries, Blazing Saddles holds the implied racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and general pro-establishment sympathies of the traditional Western up to savage ridicule. That, and it's really funny.

Movie count for 2010: 72