Monday, December 12, 2011

Letters from Iwo Jima (2007)

Featuring: Ken Watanabe, Shido Nakamura. Director: Clint Eastwood.

Warning: This movie is only supposed to be available for streaming until Jan. 1st. Act fast!

I hadn't really heard much about Letters from Iwo Jima when I turned it on. I vaguely remember hearing it was pretty good and I knew Clint Eastwood was directing so that made it worth a shot despite my World War II movie fatigue. I'm sure I can't be the only one that has it. There have been so many good WWII movies that it feels like I've seen every angle you could take on the war of wars that any other movie on the subject would seem like a cliche or a retread.

After about five minutes I realized that this movie was entirely from the perspective of Japanese soldiers. It never really occurred to me that anyone would ever think to film a WWII movie from the Japanese perspective and once I realized that I was suddenly intrigued. Clint, you sneaky bastard. The reason you never see any movies from that point of view is because the Japanese were the bad guys. WWII wasn't the kind of war that had much moral ambiguity to it like say, any war since. I'm of the opinion that the allies were on the side of good. Sure, in war there are always bad things done even by the side in the right. And, if you're going to point to any war as being a "Just War" then it would be this one.

Showing the other side is sort of a risky step by Mr. Eastwood. Some could, and probably have thought of this movie as being almost apologetic for the Japanese in WWII. Instead, in my opinion, it shows that even a just war is completely absurd and that the people who are hurt by such a war are never the evil mother f****** who started it. It's the hardworking men and women with families that suffer. That's whats happening now, and that's what always happens in war. It's just a bad business and ideally we'll have a lot less of them once we realize that the poor bastards on the other side are probably just like the poor bastards on our side.

I realize this hasn't been much of a review, but it was a movie that got me thinking. And sometimes, we need movies like that. Well acted, thought-provoking, slightly daring and touching as well. Give it a try, we all need to be a little more anti-war.

According to Netflix this movie will stop streaming on 1/1/12. Of course, sometimes they lie.

The Standard 5:

Why is it in your queue? Clint Eastwood is a pretty darn good director so I thought it deserved a shot.

Is it artsy? No, but the movie is almost entirely in Japanese so expect to do plenty of reading.

What stood out the most to you? I didn't know much about this movie going in, so finding out it was told from the Japanese perspective was pretty surprising.

What mood should I be in to watch this movie? Needing a reminder of the absurdity of war.

What rating did you give it on Netflix? 4 Stars. 

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