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Academy of Musing

January 22, 2009 By:
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Would you buy an Oscar from this man? Frank Langella may just win one.
Dirty heresy?

Who else but Clint Eastwood could spout anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-Asian attacks in such an enlightened time as Obama-rama and get away with it?

Well, of course, it's not Eastwood, but his alter echo of Walt Kowalski and his slur-speech that drives "Gran Torino," the pedal-to-the-mettle role that just might earn Eastwood his first acting Oscar when nods are announced early this Thursday.

Archie Bunker with a bunker mentality? Jews, Asians and just about everybody else get pot shots taken at their skulls from Killer Kowalski and his back-sliding view of life as he rocks and roils on his front porch.

A dinosaur for the new millennium?

Tyrannosaurus sexy, he may be closing in on 80, but Eastwood reminds that even in today's "We-are-the-world" global view, there are those who shout "Stop the world, I want to get off!" with a finger cocked around a trigger aimed at anyone who won't let them.

Yes, "change" can be good, but it also can be just a mantra without meaning when the Kowalskis of the world corral others to their point of view.

But, then again, "Gran Torino" takes a grander view and allows the character to grow, becoming human among the Hmong community, even if he sticks out like a sore white thumb at first.

The script may be shot full of holes, but Harry Callahan calls this one for Eastwood, who makes his daze as a stranger in his own country evolve from pinhead to patriot.

· · ·

Of course, prejudice doesn't have a claim only on the front porches of fading white neighborhoods. It also takes root in the portico of the White House.

And "Frost/Nixon" -- Peter Morgan's marvelous screen adaptation of his own British/ Broadway smash -- is certainly not making Hollywood's enemies list, gathering up accolades and acclaim on its way to Oscar night.

Reprising their parts as celeb interviewer David Frost and the chilled-soul on ice that was Richard Nixon, in the watershed Watergate TV showdown, Michael Sheehan and the deliciously demonic Frank Langella give stun-gun performances that pry open evil and see a former president whose anti-Semitic, anti-minority rants raised the ante on the power of his silent majority.

Tricky Dick, meet Killer Kowalski. Last one standing gets the Oscar. 

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