Monday, June 29, 2009

"Gran Torino"

(Originally published in the Ogden Independent, February 2009)

By Don Porter

While it would doubtless comfort an enlightened soul to believe that bigots like Walt Kowalski, Clint Eastwood’s racist in “Gran Torino,” are fast-fading relics of a troubled American past, it also would be delusional. Racial hatred – fueled by the ignorance to which it is welded – is not a fading characteristic of our national character.

That much of “Gran Torino” rings true.

Walt is a brutal, mirthless echo of Archie Bunker. The film introduces him as a solitary, scowling figure at his long-suffering wife’s funeral, a woman we gather did not endorse her husband’s xenophobic fury. But his rage is not confined to those who don’t share his white skin. As his children and grandchildren take their seats, the bile of disapproval gurgles in his throat: He actually growls in response to the sight of his own blood. They don’t live up. But, we realize soon enough, in Walt’s view nobody ever does.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Welcome to The Occasional Critic

For 11 years -- 1985-96 -- I was the film and TV writer/critic for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. I wrote a LOT of movie reviews, columns and interviews/profiles of filmmakers during that time.

My children were too young at the time to 1) be interested in what Dad did for a living, so I've decided to risk 2) they still won't be interested. My plan is to collect some of what I did over the years, at random, so they can see what the old man did to put food on the table -- something precious few people are still able to do in daily journalism as it exists today.

Also, since I left journalism in 2008, I wrote a monthly movie review for The Ogden Independent for about a year -- an alternative newspaper founded and edited by my old pal Steve Conlin. I've dropped a few of those reviews in here, too.

Who knows, maybe I'll discover fairly quickly I'm not interested in reading these things either. For the time being, I'm committed to clogging up space on the 'Net.