DVD reviews

Gran Torino and Confessions of s Shopaholic hit DVD land this week

Gran Torino

Dir Clint Eastwood US (PG18)

If this is Squint Eastwood’s final onscreen appearance, as he’s said, then he leaves us with something much dirtier than Harry Callahan, maybe unforgivably so. Walt Kowalski is a full-on racist: an unreconstructed Korean War vet and recent widow brandishing his M1 rifle on his suburban Detroit porch with a less-than-welcoming growl. ‘Get off my lawn’ would seem sufficient; Gran Torino appends a whole lot more, viciously. Over the course of its earnest (and thrillingly rude) duration, it finds room for what sounds like every slur for Asians invented. Kowalski threatens to go crazy on his encroaching Hmong neighbours, yet – wouldn’t you know it? – softens as he comes to appreciate the quiet industriousness of Thao (Bee Vang), whom he bosses around out of unexpressed affection.

Where is Sam Fuller when we need him most? The great B-movie poet could have made a meal out of these masculine rites and symbols, especially the 1972 Grand Torino crouched in Kowalski’s garage like a puma. The problem, a somewhat depressing one, is that Eastwood has grown into a director who thinks he’s superior to his mentors. A hint of pretension has crept into his filmmaking (multiple Oscars will do that) and his exchanges with his young cast feel overwrought. Meanwhile, no summation work can improve on Unforgiven; maybe Eastwood can now go back to impressing us.
Joshua Rothkopf
Dhs85 at Virgin Megastore

Confessions Of A Shopaholic

Dir PJ Hogan US (PG12)

Making a shiny Hollywood film about the perils of shopping is like sending an alcoholic to buy wine for your party. Here, silks glow, furs rustle and getting in debt is fun and glamorous, which is why most of this film is about the slide into negative equity. Getting out again is drawn out and dull. Here, it takes about 15 minutes.

Still, if you want gritty realism, see an arthouse movie. Or shop in a discount store. As journalist Rebecca, Isla Fisher is silly and adorable – just like this adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s novel (transposed, naturally, from London to New York). A fashion desperado with more overdue credit card bills than she has little black dresses, she gets a job under sexy Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) at his unsexy financial magazine hoping she can claw her way up to the company’s flagship publication, Alette. This is a fabulous alternative reality: editors of fashion magazines drop everything to take rookies shopping and even the debt collector has a sense of humour.

And yet there’s reason beneath the nonsense. Rebecca is an addict: she lies and hurts those around her. She doesn’t even look right in her finery; unlike Carrie Bradshaw, she clumps along in her Louboutins like she has no right to them. And, of course, she doesn’t. She’s a perfectly packaged product of the last boom, and the film knows so. Not that that gets in the way of having lots of escapist fun with the realities of Rebecca’s own private credit crunch. There’s a lesson there, and it’s not how to accessorise a Prada mini-dress.
Nina Caplan
Dhs85 at Virgin Megastore

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