Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The demon barbers storm the beach!

I've had Sweeney Todd on the brain because of the Film Experience's recent coverage, so imagine my surprise to see Len Cariou and George Hearn in consecutive scenes in Flags of Our Fathers.

Cariou (top, each side) created the role of Sweeney on Broadway in '79, and Hearn (bottom, each side) replaced him and perfected it. Both play senior-citizen versions of Iwo Jima men in Flags, and both (despite their age) should've been cast as Sweeney over Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's impending film version.

As for Flags itself, it feels and looks just like Saving Private Ryan. Except in the Pacific. Spielberg produced both, and it shows in Flags's slavish devotion to the just-so portrayal of the Greatest Generation -- we're always looking at them in sepia tones and soft light. Eastwood, though, injects a smidge of cynicism into the story of the men who famously planted the flag atop Iwo Jima in the dog days of WWII. The message of Flags: heroism is a funny thing. But not as funny as Paul Walker in combat.

9 comments:

Ehil Bent said...

Hahaha!

I was actually close to being an extra in this movie. Woohoo.

Jamy said...

Each time I see the previews I think, 'haven't I seen this picture before?' Really, it looks so recycled. Even the cynical bits are the same pap! "War makes you do terrible things." "The heros are the ones who don't come back."

Can we just watch "The Best Years of Our Lives" and the first ten minutes of "Private Ryan" and declare this subject DONE?

Alanna said...

Damn, I was hoping the cliche-ridden trailers were hiding a deeply jaded and critical movie. I'm so sick of hearing all these self-important old-timers go on about how they were THE GREATEST GENERATION. Maybe Clint Eastwood is confusing his stint as a movie gunslinger with actual military service? I guess this breaks his directorial streak.

And don't forget that Ryan "Cruel Intentions" Philippe as a soldier is also hilarious.

J.J. said...

RP barely registers in the movie. He is capable of good work ("Crash") but here everyone seems directed to be as anonymous as possible. The movie *is* very critical of the war *effort* -- by which I mean the dogged pursuit of money to fund it. It sees the invention of heroism as a jaded attempt to amass cash by saying these men fought and died for their country ("So buy bonds!"). But Flags says they really fought and died for their friends. It's not a valueless movie; I liked it better than Private Ryan; it had more to say. I think it's just WWII film fatigue on my part.

J.J. said...

Also, might I add that Flags is at its best when it deals with the uncertainty of who actually planted the famous flag. There was actually two flag-raisings, the film says, and some doubt about who was there and when. That's the dramatic kernel that should've fueled the movie. The best moment of the film is when Ryan Phillippe has to assure a mother that her dead son actually hoisted the flag. He did not. On the flip side, another mother who recognizes her son's "keister" in the photo is told that it is not, in fact, him (even though it is).

Middento said...

I just went to Rotten Tomatoes to check out reviews for this (and for Marie Antoinette, which I actually liked) and I'm utterly confused as to why such seemingly sensible critics are lauding this film like it was the 2nd coming. Really, it boggls the mind.

Alanna said...

Manohla Dargis, who I usually find completely insane, gave Flags a thoughtful, positive review:

http://movies2.nytimes.com/2006/10/20/movies/20flag.html?ref=movies

J.J. said...

In today's Wash Post, Stephen Hunter basically calls it the best movie of this century and the last. But that may be because Stephen Hunter likes guns.

I respect Dargis. She is articulate, and her review is valuable. I think that Flags needs its companion piece, Letters from Iwo Jima, to bring it into sharp relief.

Middento said...

Admittedly, I wanted to like this film so much more because I'm curious to see how Letters from Iwo Jima will fit.