Bob and Justin's Mad Movie Blog

My name is Bob. My friend Justin and I are aspiring filmmakers and we have pretty similar tastes in movies. This will include our take on what's going on in film and television today as well as updating you on the status of our own work.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers

Well I finally made it to "Flags," "Marie," and the just released "Running With Scissors," so here we go! "Marie" and "Running" will be up shortly, but for now I'll take on "Flags."

Flags of Our Fathers- (I know Mike has one coming too, but it'll be fun to see our different takes.)
In 1992 the Western was dead. There was a sense that there was nothing new to say. That is until Clint Eastwood came along with his masterpiece, "Unforgiven." Now it seems that so much has already been said about WWII, particularly within the last ten years, that there aren't a whole lot of new things to say about it. Again, enter Clint Eastwood.
Early in 1945, the allies were still in a position in which the war could be lost. The little island of Iwo Jima was a Japanese stronghold, and the United States was going to have to take it from them. When they did, an American flag was raised atop Mount Suribachi. When an officer decided he needed to have that particular flag, another was raised in its place. As the film shows, no one noticed the second flag going up, except for a photographer named Joe Rosenthal. In that moment he captured the most iconic image in the history of the Marine Corps, and probably even of WWII itself. Three of the six men in the picture never came home. Meanwhile the other three were sent home and greeted as heroes.
The three men were Navy Corpsman John Bradley (Ryan Phillipe), and two Marine privates named Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford) and Ira Hayes (Adam Beach). From here we see the story of these three unassuming men as they go on a tour of the United States to raise desperately needed war bonds. What makes this film so interesting is not the modesty of these men, something we commonly see in films about men hailed as heroes, but the awkwardness of being called a hero. The tour experience is utterly surreal as seen through their eyes. To them it is horribly uncomfortable, even embarrassing.
The sense that a person who has never been in combat never can understand it permeates "Flags." The photograph means absolutely nothing to Bradley, Gagnon, or Hayes, but it means so much to the American people that it is an image the three cannot escape. At a dinner to raise bonds, they are even served a dessert made to look like the flag raising. A clueless waiter pours red sauce all over it. It is little moments like this that set "Flags" apart. Based upon James Bradley's book (the son of John), the screenplay written by William Broyles, Jr. ("Jarhead") and Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby," "Crash") is full of these sorts of moments. No one at home understands the cost of Iwo Jima or of war itself. Perhaps it is for this reason that so many veterans never speak of their experiences. They feel it is fruitless to try to explain it.
The battle scenes (many of them shown in flashback) are well orchestrated, but don't have the same horrifying intensity as "Saving Private Ryan." This film contains greater heartbreak though in many ways, as we see these men try to return to their lives. Particularly shattering is the performance of Beach as American Indian Ira Hayes. The rest of his short life would be miserable as a result of the unforgettable photograph. It is a performance that will most likely (and deservedly) earn a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Eastwood shows once more that he may just be the greatest living director of actors. Eastwood also continues his hot streak, coming off of "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby." He is not a terribly stylish director. He would rather just tell his story, and few, if any, are better at it. 9/10


At Tue Oct 31, 09:12:00 PM PST, Blogger Mike the Marine said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At Tue Oct 31, 09:13:00 PM PST, Blogger Mike the Marine said...

I totally agree. I gave it 9/10 on IMDB.

Completely off topic, check this out:

Wife Force One

You'll dig it.

At Tue Oct 31, 09:47:00 PM PST, Blogger Mike the Marine said...

My review.


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