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Letters from Iwo Jima - quick review

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Letters from Iwo Jima - quick review

Old 01-21-07, 03:49 PM
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Letters from Iwo Jima - quick review

(Didn't quite find thread that wasn't about this film being named best of 2006 by a couple of places, so I started another thread. Please merge if a more suitable thread exists.)

"Letters from Iwo Jima" was an engrossing, and poignant film about Japanese soldiers facing the ultimate fight-or-flight situation on the strategic island of Iwo Jima when the Allies were determined to take the island to maintain a base of operation in that combat theater in WWII. Director Clint Eastwood is again at the top of his game with this film, the deft subtlety of the film's primal themes (of honor and sacrifice in wartime) displayed is both admirable and engaging.

Ken Watanabe is perfectly cast as General Kuriyabashi, the one with the thankless task of getting the troops ready for the coming onslaught by the Allies, with no other military support, and having to use the island's geography to elicit as many advantages as possible in the face of overwhelming odds. Kazunari Ninomiya as Saigo, is just as effective as the everyman soldier who just wants to be back home with his wife, but the call of honor and duty represented huge obstacles for such a simple desire for normalcy and living in a time when the war waged on, and only honorable death being the most likely of outcomes for him.

The pace of the film felt suitable for the subject matter at hand, at no time did I feel the need to look at my watch, my attention was totally glued to the screen by the power of the film's story and the performances. Eastwood simply has an impeccable sense in pacing a film that never lingers too long within scenes, and always keeps the narrative pushing forward.

The cinematography was top-notch, utilizing a subdued grey-blue tint, with lighting within the caves that captured stark facial shadows, making them another character within the drama and revealing the gamut of emotions that ran through the soldiers from desperation and fear to bravery and dogged determination.

The score was not all intrusive, existing to support the unfolding drama without calling attention to itself. Again, a very subtle, but effective choice.

All in all, a very impressive cinematic tour de force, and more than worthy companion piece to "Flags of Our Fathers", in fact, it's a superior film, but they both buoy one another in this unflinching look back at the tumultuous battle at Iwo Jima from 2 sides of the same coin.

I give it 4 stars, or a grade of A.
Old 01-21-07, 06:44 PM
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I was disappointed in Flags of Our Fathers, but LFIJ is an exceptional movie. I still have a few more to see, but so far in my opinion it's between this and United 93 for best picture.
Old 01-21-07, 08:35 PM
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I'm not expecting much from Letters from Iwo Jima expect horrific war violence, grim cinematography and refreshing pov of the Japanese army. Judging by the trailer I can expect similar war themes of that seen in Downfall or any other war films that closely dealt with futility juxtapose to sacrifice, honour or whatever. Nothing extraordinary but I'm dying to watch the film and will end buying it.
Old 01-21-07, 10:19 PM
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This movie was pretty damn incredible. Easily better than Flags, but I think the two together make for an interesting case study of a certain place at a certain point in time. Ken Watanabe was excellent, as was the rest of the cast. I found this film to have more emotional weight and resonance than Flags did... this was Eastwood at the top of his game. I can't think of another movie I have seen that is comparable to this - very unique (although I haven't seen very many japanese war films) to the above poster, see it, it is a pretty extraordinary film. Easily one 2006's best films and worthy of any nominations that come it's way.

My only complaint with the film was actually just about the font used for the subtitles - I didn't really like it and when italics were used, some were hard to read as many scenes featured bright washed out whites that the text seemed to fade into...

(in the last 2 weeks, 4 movies got the bump off my top 10 of the year as I saw this, Pan's Labyrinth, Children of Men and Little Children).
Old 01-28-07, 11:49 AM
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First off, this is easily the better of the two Iwo Jima movies from Eastwood. But that's not saying much as Flags of Our Fathers was so engulfed in schmaltz it made it hard to swallow.

Letters from Iwo Jima is good, but not great. It has a lot of interesting Jarhead-esque getting-ready-for-battle slice-of-life vignettes and it employs a series of Lost-style flashback sequences that help you relate to the characters more. The problem is the movie goes on far too long. You begin to be worn down by all the violence, sorrow, and war. I guess that's the point, but it's an easy point to make.

Technically, the movie is very well done, even if we're seeing the continuation of the Klimov-created (and Spielberg-popularized) washing-out of colors, etc. As someone else mentioned, the person in charge of subtitles should be fired. White subtitles on a white background? Genius.

Great acting all around.

The movie is pretty violent: a couple left at the end of the
suicide scene

I'd give this movie a B+ or A- and Flags a B-.
Old 01-28-07, 12:37 PM
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this movie kicks the crap out of the Queen(this years overrated movie)
Old 01-28-07, 01:48 PM
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I really like LfIJ, but felt at times Eastwood needed to pick things up. I know Wanatabe is getting a lot of press, rightfully so, but I thought the actor who played Saigo was really good.

I liked it majorly but not loved, and certainly not Best Pic winner.

Grade: B+
Old 01-28-07, 06:42 PM
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Just saw it tonight, agreed that it dragged a little but overall an amazing movie. Great acting + cinematography(almost on a par with Children of Men on that basis), one of the best movies of the year, imo, in what is shaping up to be a pretty good year for movies..

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