I am a big fan of Clint Eastwood's newest film, Gran Torino. I don't know anything about cars and, fortunately, you don't really need to in order to enjoy the film. However, it certainly doesn't hurt to know a thing or two going in. In an insightful article by Los Angeles Times Automotive Critic Dan Neil, the signifiance of the car itself -- Walt Kowalski's 1972 Gran Torino -- is discussed.
At one point, Dan Neil says:
You could prowl vintage car shows for years and not find an automobile that, in its malign typicality, better summarizes Detroit's fall than the 1972 Gran Torino. Let's begin with the thing itself: The car was tubby and it was awkward. It handled like a block of ice with a steering wheel. It lacked even minimum corrosion proofing and so rusted with relish in northern climates.
OK, it summarizes the Detroit's fall. Got it. But "tubby" and "awkward"? My Uncle had a 1972 Gran Torino, and my dad said that even brand new it was an awful, "ugly" car. I don't get it. As far as asthetics go, I think it looks pretty cool, and I'm very surprised to find I'm in the minority.
The article should be of particular interest to fans of the movie without a significant car IQ. You can read Dan Neil's complete article for free here. I should note that I came across the article via an online post by the Detroit Free Press.
As for the film itself:
The story is outstanding and may very well be the best of any movie I've seen from 2008. There were a few poor performances, and they came mostly from non-actors. (None of the Hmong actors in the cast had acted in a film before except Doua Moua.) I suggest seeing it ahead of just about every movie currently in release. (Run, don't walk, to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop!)