Thursday, October 19, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers

Continued from… Marty vs. Clint: Round Two

… while Marty enjoys relieved hosannas from the fanbase that wants him to do crime dramas forever, my guess is that Clint -- still coasting from the extravagant love that greeted Million Dollar Baby, won’t enjoy as much warmth for Flags of Our Fathers.

Even for moviegoers who found Baby to be wildly overpraised, it was hard to argue with its solid storytelling: tightly constructed, intimate and moving. Eastwood’s new WW II picture is more ambitious in concept and theme but shakier in execution.

The movie examines the lives of three soldiers: Doc, Chief, and Gagnon. They are played by Ryan Phillipe, Adam Beach (the film’s only hope for Oscary acting recognition) and Jesse Bradford, Our Man of Perpetual Smirk, respectively. They were captured in the photo of soldiers raising the stars and stripes atop Iwo Jima. We soon learn that this flag raising, however evocatively frozen in time, was hardly the definitive moment in reality that it came to be once the myth-making machinery was done with it. It’s interesting subject for a movie.

Unfortunately the movie doesn't sufficiently reward interest in its premise. The problems start with the shuffling of flashbacks to the war, flashbacks to the bond tour celebrating the photograph, and present day interviews with former soldiers. This three pronged stop and go often kills the dramatic momentum and plays awkwardly throughout the movie. Transitioning from flashbulbs to explosions: this is something we’ve seen a million times before. Further compounding the choppy drama are the one dimensional characterizations on display. These roles aren’t exactly complex on paper (Doc is thoughtful and quiet, Chief is drunk and angry, and Gagnon loves attention) and the performances, even the stronger ones, do little to deepen the initial impressions.

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16 comments:

Arden said...

the academy had no love for Hitchcock or Kubrick either. so as far as i'm concerned Scorsese's in good company.

David S. said...

Amen.

Lily said...

So what for Departed's oscar chances then? It's suddenly become a hot contender. Beyond directing? Picture, acting? I haven't yet seen it because being, you know, a full time student makes like sort of difficult. Plus I have (due to aforementioned studies) no money. Bah humbug. So what's the Oscar buzz then?

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Scorsese is a better director than Eastwood, but I really don't think that's anything wrong about Marty not winning Oscars? There are directors that fill the AMPAS pattern, and others don't - and that has nothing to do with the quality. There are prizes for these other directors and Scorsese has the Golden Palm, Altman has his Golden Bear, Palm and Lion, and so forth. To each his own.

- cal roth

Kamikaze Camel said...

There's some directors who don't even get nominated ONCE, so...

Your assessment of Flags sounds like what I anticipate. I too am much more interested in the Japanese take because we so rarely see anything from "the villain" point of view. Of course, if Clint plays that movie as if they know they're the villain, then, well... all hope is lost. But, we'll cross that road when we come to it (February, apparently. Just in time for the Oscars. But what if Flags fails with Oscar? My bet is they will move it to a better slot).

The Departed, I think, is looking pretty solid for Editing and Adapted Screenplay. I can actually see it being a Best Picture nominee if the contenders keep falling. If The Good Shepherd's buzz continues to slide, if Babel or The Good German don't make enough money. Bobby and Flags are already on the slide. And while the tone of the movie doesn't scream BEST PICTURE, it has a big cast from a loved director? We'll see... But the thing is, where else? It's not gonna be getting costume, art direction, make up or any nods there. Cinematography is plausible i suppose...

oh, who knows. I'm tired.

adam k. said...

Well, Jack will obviously get nommed. In some category or another. And Leo's got a shot, too.

It could easily be a best pic nominee with just Pic/Dir/Screenplay/Editing/(supporting or lead)Actor and maybe cinematography. That's 5 or 6 noms right there.

NATHANIEL R said...

i didn't mean to imply that Departed and Flags can't be nominated. Just that they're not as perfectly tailored for Oscar attention as the 2004 films were.

Geek, Esq. said...

It looks like the Clint worshp from 2004 has continued, judging from reviews from the well-known critics.

Maybe Dreamgirls can stop FooF, but this feels awfully familiar.

NATHANIEL R said...

yeah, i'm a little surprised about the raves. I mean I expected SOME. It's a slam dunk for some given the topic and the man behind the camera. But it strikes me as lazy that it's getting raves. It's nowhere close to as tight and forceful as Million Dollar Baby.

daveylow said...

Does anyone remember Prizzi's Honor? If that film can get a Best Picture, Best Director nomimation, why not The Departed?

Beau said...

Beach does not deserve awards recognition.
He was average at best. Same with the film. I'm astounded at the raves honestly, I walked out of that film feeling that it was too long, too unfocused, and just... too damn familiar.

cinefille said...

And while we're spending all this time debating "Flags of Our Fathers" versus "The Departed", something else is guaranteed to come along and blow the competition away....

NATHANIEL R said...

like...

adam k. said...

...Dreamgirls and/or Babel.

I could totally see this year being a Dreamgirls/Scorcese split. I have this feeling that even if Dreamgirls won, Condon wouldn't win, maybe cause Marshall didn't win for Chicago. I had that feeling even before the Departed surge, and now it seems perfect that they'd honor Marty.

But I could also see Babel becoming a major phenomenon. It just seems like the type of film that people would crown "Best Picture." What with the global-ness and such.

FooF, I think will get nominated, but there's no way Clint and his film could win AGAIN. Is there? Especially with so many detractors? And against Marty AGAIN? No.

Plus, I love calling it "Foof". It's a way to belittle it without even trying.

Kamikaze Camel said...

I'd put money on The Queen taking out Best Picture before Babel.

Kamikaze Camel said...

"the academy had no love for Hitchcock or Kubrick either."

Lest we forget that Kubrick did indeed win a competitive Academy Award. Sure, it was for Best Visual Effects, BUT IT'S SOMETHING!!