Moviecrazed
  Web www.moviecrazed.com   



FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS

Americans, particularly those who have volunteered to serve in Iraq, know that war is hell. Now Clint Eastwood reminds us that World War II was also hell. Primarily set during the climactic year of 1945, “Flags of Our Fathers,” which is based on the best seller by James Bradley and Ron Powers, depicts the bloody, ferocious battle for control of Pacific island Iwo Jima. And it tells the disturbing truth behind the iconcic photo of the five marines and one navy corpsman raising the flag on Mount Suribachi.

CAST: Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford, Paul Walker, Neal McDonough, Jamie Bell, Joseph Cross, Robert Patrick, Barry Pepper, George Grizzard, Harve Presnell, Judith Ivey, Kirk Woller, Brian Kimmet, Jason Gray-Stanford, Matt Huffman, Joe Michael Burke, Georgiana Jianu, Shon Blotzer

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

SCREENWRITERS: William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis

 

 

“Clint Eastwood has crafted a bold and meticulous epic...The movie is about the real theater of war: how a battle campaign morphed into a p.r. campaign and, implicitly, how later generations of politicians have used symbols to sell a war. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, anyone?...Eastwood choreographs his battle scenes with a brutal vividness that matches the most cauterizing moments of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Black Hawk Down.’ A young man tries to keep his guts from spilling through the huge wound in his belly. On the beach, a severed head stares unseeing at the sky. More than one good soldier is mowed down by friendly fire...Eastwood's compassionate, cautionary tale speaks eloquently about a time when America needed heroes, and does so when we are no longer sure what they look like--when the indelible photo op of the Iraq war is from Abu Ghraib.” --RICHARD CORLISS, Time

“Watching Eastwood's harrowing film, which raises pointed questions about how heroes, and wars, are packaged and sold, it's hard not to think his movie is a commentary on today. Images of Jessica Lynch pop into your brain. And when Sgt. Mike Strank (Barry Pepper), the unit's leader, is killed by friendly fire, your thoughts turn to Pat Tillman, the ex-football star whose death was initially rewritten to suit the mythical role the military, and the media, had decided he must play... ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ an epic both raw and contemplative, is neither a flag-waving war movie nor a debunking. It's an investigation into the nature of heroism, real and manufactured, and of our deep-seated need to avert our eyes from the horror of war by gazing up at the more comforting vision of the heroic. It ponders the way images are used to manipulate reality.” --DAVID ANSEN, Newsweek

“It seems hard to believe there is anything left to say about World War II that has not already been stated and restated, chewed, digested and spat out for your consideration and that of the Oscar voters. And yet here, at age 76, is Clint Eastwood saying something new and vital about the war in his new film, and here, too, is this great, gray battleship of a man and a movie icon saying something new and urgent about the uses of war and of the men who fight. ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ concerns one of the most lethal encounters on that distant battlefield, but make no mistake: this is also a work of its own politically fraught moment...Eastwood insists, with a moral certitude that is all too rare in our movies, that we extract an unspeakable cost when we ask men to kill other men. There is never any doubt in the film that the country needed to fight this war, that it was necessary; it is the horror at such necessity that defines ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ not exultation...He gives us men whose failings are evidence of their humanity and who are, contrary to our revolted sensitivities, no less human because they kill.” --MANOHLA DARGIS, The New York Times

“This sad true story wrings you out emotionally because it's concerned with both the deaths of young men in battle and what happens when the needs of those who survive clash with what society expects and politics demands...A narrative like this requires a measured, classical style to be most effective, and it couldn't have found a better director than Clint Eastwood...Eastwood handles this nuanced material with aplomb, giving every element of this complex story just the weight it deserves. The director's lean dispassion, his increased willingness to be strongly emotional while retaining an instinctive restraint, continues to astonish. We are close to blessed to have Eastwood still working at age 76 and more fortunate still that challenging material like ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ is what he wants to be doing.” --KENNETH TURAN, The Los Angeles Times

“I think it's fair to say that most of us are past the point of thinking of the soldiers who fought in WWII as plaster saints, yet ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ an honorable and rather plodding movie, insists on demythologizing what no longer needs to be demythologized...I never felt we were truly getting to know the three soldiers outside of their awkward PR juggernaut. Phillippe's Doc is crucially underwritten, and Bradford never gets past a certain self-contained smoothness, though Adam Beach, the star of ‘Smoke Signals,’ digs deep into Ira Hayes' tormented, drunken ambivalence about his role as a symbol. His lacerating performance suggests what ‘Flags of Our Fathers, with a less didactic historical focus, might have been: an investigation into the everyday lives of American soldiers who saved the world but never knew what to do with the agonies they carried home with them.” --OWEN GLEIBERMAN, Entertainment Weekly

“Disliking ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ Eastwood's tribute to the Greatest Generation, feels tantamount to spitting on the flag—or worse, your father. But however deeply felt Eastwood's commitment to the project, however laudable his struggle with the moral complexities of war, he simply hasn't made a movie that's compelling to watch on its own terms...as graphic and frightening as parts of this film are—and some of the battle scenes can be watched only from between your fingers—‘Flags’ relies too often on the standard war-movie structure: Develop the soldiers' characters just long enough to be able to tell them apart, then throw them on the battlefield to be picked off, one by one, in increasingly horrible ways...It feels disrespectful to say it, but this kind of war movie, like war itself, is starting to feel sickeningly familiar.” --DANA STEVENS, Slate

“The film has all the coherence and lucidity of a fragmentation bomb. Attempting to replicate the war-is-hell but soldiers-are-honorable mode of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ (Steven Spielberg is one of the producers), it spews out cliches about the ambiguous nature of heroism--failed cliches, at that-- and they fatally wound any authentic character or artistic notion that it has...‘Flags of Our Fathers’ fails as fact or legend. It's woefully incompetent as narrative moviemaking. "If you can get a picture, the right picture, you can win a war," says a retired captain. Having already gotten a 21-gun salute from the newsweeklies and the trade papers, ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ shows that if a revered director can get a subject, the right subject, he can win rave reviews without earning them.” --MICHAEL SRAGOW, Baltimore Sun Times

“If you like movies that spew clichés, Clint Eastwood will not make your day...At seventy-six, he’s doing risky work while his contemporaries retire or, worse, conform. Even when the plot of his new ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ steers him toward ‘Saving Private Ryan’ rah-rah and “Greatest Generation” sentiment, Eastwood holds the line. ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ is a film of awesome power and blistering provocation... a fierce attack on wartime hypocrisy and profiteering.” --PETER TRAVERS, Rolling Stone

“It is a film that will stop your heart. Brilliantly conceived, articulately written, sensitively acted, filled with deeply penetrating emotions and breathtaking action, it is the greatest cinematic canvas of war since ‘Saving Private Ryan.’...No amount of lavish praise can do justice to the balanced and keenly researched screenplay by William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis, or Tom Stern’s staggering cinematography. The enormous cast is irreproachable.” --REX REED, New York Observer

"The screenplay's welter of flashbacks makes for an oddly structured story, and the multiplicity of story lines leads to panoramic breadth, as opposed to dramatic depth...the central characters aren't so much characterized as illustrated...There's a tremendous amount of material here, and the script covers too much of it, often confusingly...Something's missing. We keep hearing about the survivors' bone-deep anguish, the cruelties they endured as well as perpetrated. Hayes, well and touchingly played by Adam Beach, confesses in tears: ‘Some of the things I saw, things I did … they weren't things to be proud of.’ But we never really see what he's talking about. To date, at least, Eastwood is a director who chooses to venture only so far into the true, lacerating horrors of war.” --MICHAEL PHILLIPS, Chicago Tribune

“Flags of Our Fathers’ stands with the best movies of this young century and the old one the preceded it: It's passionate, honest, unflinching, gripping, and it pays respects. The flag-raising on Iwo might have indeed become a pseudo-event as it was looted for maximum profit, but there was nothing pseudo about the courage of the men who did it.” --STEPHEN HUNTER, The Washington Post

“Perhaps it is a sign of today's cynicism, but I didn't feel there was dishonor in having these men parade as heroes in order to shore up support for their comrades in arms. Bradley and Hayes felt otherwise, but Eastwood doesn't do enough to dramatize their torment. With the exception of Adam Beach, who gives Hayes's story a measure of pathos, none of the actors has the force of personality to put his life in focus...If Eastwood is making an analogy between World War II and our current situation in Iraq, it doesn't wash. The three soldiers in ‘Flags’ are a far cry from Jessica Lynch. The uses of heroism in wartime is a much more complex issue than Eastwood allows for. He has made an honorable movie about honor, but the naivete of the conception--which some will call purity--keeps ‘Flags’ at arm's length from greatness.” --PETER RAINER, The Christian Science Monitor

“Ambitiously tackling his biggest canvas to date, Clint Eastwood continues to defy and triumph over the customary expectations for a film career in ‘Flags of Our Fathers.’ A pointed exploration of heroism -- in its actual and in its trumped-up, officially useful forms -- the picture welds a powerful account of the battle of Iwo Jima, the bloodiest single engagement the United States fought in World War II, with an ironic and ultimately sad look at its aftermath for three key survivors.” --TODD McCARTHY, Variety

“Clint Eastwood storms Mt. Oscar again with ‘Flags of Our Fathers,’ a stirring ode to American heroism during the battle of Iwo Jima -- which also pointedly dissects how that heroism was cynically packaged for public consumption...the erstwhile Dirty Harry - at 76! - continues to defy characterization as a filmmaker...Ryan Phillipe is rock solid as the self-effacing Bradley...The movie's emotional heart, though, is the tragic Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona who suffered casual racism at the same time he was being hailed as a hero - and eventually drank himself to death. Adam Beach gives a tremendously moving, Oscar-caliber performance as Hayes ...Eastwood, remarkably, has already completed a companion film to "Flags of Our Fathers" (due out early next year), examining Iwo Jima from the Japanese side. If it's half as good as this one, it will be one of the best films of 2007.” --LOU LUMENICK, The New York Post