Sunday, July 15, 2007

Letters From Iwo Jima: Grade F


Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

Ken Watanabe. Director Clint Eastwood. (Japanese, subtitled).

This WWII movie does have one redeeming virtue and that is the photography, which is well composed and rendered just on the colored side of B&W. It’s a great look, but I already admired it in Flags of Our Fathers, the immediate predecessor to this movie, and here it is just more of the same, so no points. In fact I recognized several scenes in this movie that look like they had been clipped directly from the earlier one, which is kind of dishonest. The movie shows the invasion of Iwo Jima from the Japanese point of view but there is nothing new. There are flashbacks to pre-war family scenes to make the point that “Japanese are people too.” I think after sixty years, that is not a point that needs to be made for Americans. In the movie, the soldiers bark at each other in stereotypical declarative fashion, obscuring any attempts at real acting. Some soldiers commit suicide, others are killed in battle. They all die, as we know from history. Overall, the movie is dark (though not muddy), since most of it takes place in caves, and the lighting is confusing at times. CGI war effects are crude, especially aircraft, but exothermic chemistry is in plentiful supply for those who enjoy explosions. I think this movie was grossly overrated because we all love Clint.

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