Letters From Iwo Jima Reviews
It takes a filmmaker possessed of a rare, almost alchemic, blend of maturity, wisdom and artistic finesse to create such an intimate, moving and spare war film as Clint Eastwood has done.
In the last half-hour, the story, like the Japanese, loses its way; lacking any clear-cut goals except survival, the film becomes repetitive. Letters From Iwo Jima is a necessary movie; too bad it's not a great movie.
Eastwood seems less concerned with provocation than with contemplation, of a popular military campaign and its supposed days of glory. The second film completes and deepens the first.
Where Flags heaved its characters through war and psychic trauma without first allowing us all to get acquainted, Letters takes such care with its protagonists that they awaken and descend from the screen.
Letters is a work of whetted craft and judgment, tempered by Eastwood's years of life, moviemaking and the potent tango of the two. It is the work of a mature filmmaker willing to entertain the true power of the cinema.
Too old for another Dirty Harry movie, Eastwood embraced the role of brooding, fatalistic American Master -- and, I'm bound to say, is finally beginning to wear it more convincingly.
Indirectly but cogently comment on our experiences of other movies. Having Japanese soldiers as heroes allows us to reconsider the didacticism we've been handed in the past.
Side by side, though, Eastwood's movies are a sobering marvel: the massive military effort, suffering and sacrifice, the extremes of human behavior that war produces.
Humanizing our old adversaries doesn't erase their war crimes, and Eastwood doesn't whitewash the brutality of Japanese militarism. His point is that the Emperor's infantrymen were as much the victims of the Japanese war machine as the GIs they fought.
Watanabe is appropriately noble and regal, if a bit stiff at times; but it is Ninomiya's grunt soldier who gives the film its soul. Alternately philosophical, humorous, terrified and crafty, he is everyman trying to survive hell.
[This] absorbing and thoughtful take on the plight of the trapped, desperate and suicidal Japanese troops, outstrips its companion piece. That's not a statement on patriotism; it addresses the nature of Eastwood's approach and basic human nature.