Letters From Iwo Jima

Rob Foss

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'Letters from Iwo Jima' for best picture?

A poster at The Envelope's message boards broke the news here early this afternoon that "Letters from Iwo Jima" will ambush the Oscar derby.

Warner Bros. will give it a qualifying run in a few Los Angeles and New York theaters during the last week of 2006, then open it wide in February after Oscar noms are announced.

The decision is a surprise because it recently seemed as if the studio had given up hope that a Japanese-language film could do well at the Oscars and just pushed it off to next February so they'd be something new to talk about as "Flags of Our Fathers" made its run for best picture. When I asked Warner Bros. execs if "Iwo Jima" would get a qualifying run for this derby, they said, "No!"

[email protected] GoldDerby.
 

Rob Foss

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Couple more developments on the Eastwood front ... Letters from Iwo Jima has had a sensational debut in Tokyo and along with Flags it's been near the top of the box-office. According to a Japanese poster over at imdb the Japanese audience and the critics have been emotionally overwhelmed by the movie. There's also this AICN mini-review which gives away a lot of the story including the ending, so be warned. Here's an excerpt:


It's going to be very interesting to see Letters and even more interesting to see how it affects perceptions of Flags. My hunch is that despite the different characters and different stories both films will come to be regarded as a unified whole exploring similar themes from different perspectives.
 

Mike.P

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Trailer here:

http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/lettersfromiwojima/hd/

Never got around to seeing Flags Of Our Fathers, but based on the trailers for both, this one gripped me immediately. Hits the limited release circuit this weekend. Also appears to be the film expected to garner more of the awards attention.

One critic said this film is the, for lack of a better word, "more arthouse" companion to the "more entertaining" Flags. I have to say, most of all, the muted color palette really makes both films stand out.

Can't wait for the wide release.
 

Brian-A

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I speculate that this may just be because the dialogue is in another language and the film itself focuses on a different culture. That in itself makes it seem more exotic, arthouse, if you will.

In any case, I thought Flags was excellent and I look forward to seeing the other point of view. What first attracted me to the project was the very fact that there would be two movies, two points of view about the same event.
 

Mike.P

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Yeah, I always thought the idea of having 2 companion movies was brilliant to begin with. Pretty disappointed with myself for never having seen Flags in theaters, too.

You are also probably right on the foreign effect, as well. Not to mention, in American cinema at least, we rarely get to see the opposing sides point of view on a conflict. Another reason this interests me more, I suppose.
 

CaseyL

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Loved "Flags", but I've really been looking forward to this. This was easily the more anticipated of the two for myself. Can't wait to see this one.
 

Yoshi Sugawara

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Saw this last night with my wife and brother in San Francisco. Since it had recieved barely any marketing attention, there were only a few others in the theater.

It was definitely worthwhile, I really appreciated the accurate (at least for me) portrayal of the Japanese during that time period. It's also an interesting perspective of that battle, since the Japanese side of the battle was never really expressed in this fashion before. I'm sure this perspective is pretty new to Japanese people themselves - in Japan, pretty much everything that happened during this time period is given a blind eye and replaced with a sort of a blind naive sense of pacifism. It's important to provide recognition of what happened, and how people were feeling at that time (even how twisted or warped it might have been). That's what the film tries to do, and it does it very well.

Being a Japanese-American (who's married to a Japanese woman), we had some interesting discussions of what I identified with and what I think to be my "American side". I can't really "take a side", but end up only being confused as to who I am


I haven't seen "Flags of our Fathers", and I hope I can see that sometime soon (I had passed it off as another "Pearl Harbor" without knowing much about what it really was).
 

Edwin-S

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I have seen FoOF and it is no "PEARL HARBOR". I think the film the film had some flaws but but being goofy wasn't one of them. I hope the companion piece to FoOF makes it my neck of the woods so I can see it.
 

Jimi C

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Was'nt a fan of Flags but this film looks pretty interesting and I plan on seeing it in theaters.
 

Nathan V

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When does this expand?

Yoshi, I too highly recommend Flags- Clint is one helluva step up from Michael Bay.

Regards,
Nathan
 

Ray-M

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I had the opportunity to see this film the other day. I found it to be a very ponderous film, with action mixed in. It reminded me alot of The Thin Red Line stylewise. The near black and white color palette was also an interesting choice. It was a well made film that I'm sure others will appreciate, just not the type of war movie I like.
 

Robert Crawford

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An excellent film from the Japanese perspective about this very brutal battle. IMO, I think it's a better film than Flags of our Fathers because the film was more focus on certain characters in the film while the other film had a broader scope which caused it to lose some of its attention to details in identifying with certain film characters.




Crawdaddy
 

Tino

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I have reservations about seeing this film because it seems like it is revisionist filmmaking, portraying the Japanese soldiers on that island as being sympathetic, caring and having mercy. All the books I have read on the subject, including Flags, indicate the opposite.

For those of you that have seen it, is it revisionist?
 

KurtEP

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I hope you're trolling with that statement.

In the event you're not, keep in mind that the decisions to attack the US were made at the top in Japan. The soldiers that died on Iwo Jima died like any other soldiers, following orders. They may have had different cultural ideas of war, but they were in no way inherently evil. Perhaps that's the grade school version, but the truth is rarely that simple.

Edit: Note that it's already been pointed out that there were instances where bad things happened when American soldiers were captured. Remember, though, that the US would have been painted in a very poor light had they lost the war. War sucks, and bad things are bound to happen when it's going on.
 

Allen Hirsch

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One of the best films of the year, IMO. Eastwood really knows how to take apart the conventional wisdom, and just about turn it on its ear - as he did in Unforgiven, and does again in LFIJ (and attempted as well in Flags of Our Fathers, but less successfully than the other two I've mentioned).

Great acting by Watanabe (the only "name" actor in the film), and two or three other "main" Japanese characters. This really humanizes the enemy, and shows that they're concerned about the same things our soldiers were: primarily their families. It also shows some other differences and similarities in cultures, and really shows both the "gung ho" Japanese soldier, and very reluctant ones, as well (we're led to empathize with the reluctant ones more, through better exposition and backstory for much more character depth).

Eastwood also is terrific using black & white (or almost so) here, as he did in Million Dollar Baby. The film is very artsy with its lack of color palette, but also has some very vivid and realistic and violent war scenes, so it's not purely an "art film" by any stretch.
 

Haggai

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Chuck and I saw this today. I thought the character development was slow-going at first, although it was enough to keep things going, and then all the battle sequences were very powerful. I liked Flags as well, though I do agree with the general assessment that this movie works better. One of the main reasons is that--as Chuck pointed out just after we saw it--this one has a real star performance by a great actor, in Ken Watanabe, which Flags didn't have. I haven't seen Last Samurai or any of his other previous roles, but man is he great in this movie. He doesn't seem to have been nominated for anything yet for this performance, so I guess he probably won't break into the Oscar field for it either, but I have an awfully hard time believing that there were 5 better lead performances than this one in the past year.
 

Tim Glover

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I really look forward to this coming to my local cinema. I thought Flags was excellent so I'm extremely interested in this portrayal.
 

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