Location: Los Angeles, California

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers

Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" shows, as did "Mystic River" and "Million Dollar Baby," the director's inability to trust his audience's intelligence. This war epic, which is filmed with the utmost professionalism and respect, is severely hampered by a narration that directly instructs the audience what to feel.

Furthermore, the film tries to survive an awfully awkward structure that flashes back and forth between three different time periods. It works for awhile, but eventually this narrative device becomes tiresome, and the point Eastwood is trying to drive home is repeated over and over.

Additionally, we become aware that the third time period - a present day setting in which an actor playing author James Bradley interviews these war veterans as old men - could have been completely axed.

Still, the combat scenes are filmed with impressive technical mastery (some shots taken from a pilot's pov are particularly memorable), and it's refreshing to have a war film that considers the effects of that war back home (albeit without any of the insight of a film like "The Best Years of Our Lives").

I look forward to Eastwood's follow-up film, "Letters from Iwo Jima." He has intriguing material here. And Paul Haggis, who co-wrote the overwrought script for "Flags," wasn't involved in the writing of "Letters," so there's still hope that the film might have some degree of human dimensionality.

Rating: **1/2 (out of ****)


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