movie film review | chris tookey

Letters from Iwo Jima

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  Letters from Iwo Jima Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
8.31 /10
Ken Watanabe , Kazunari Ninomiya, Shido Nakamura
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Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Iris Yamashita , from a story by Paul Haggis and Iris Yamashita

Released: 2006
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 141

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The project lacks the variety of sensuous pleasures that a great movie has to provide.

(David Denby, New Yorker)

Letters covers less emotional ground than its predecessor, because Eastwood and first-time writer Iris Yamashita (who shares a story credit with Paul Haggis) allow Japanese soldiers only three modes of behavior.

(Lawrence Toppman, Charlotte Observer)

Portraying the same 1945 confrontation from the vantage point of the Japanese was an inspired idea. Unfortunately, the movie it inspired is something of a letdown.

(Rick Kisonak, Film Threat)

Sadly, what Eastwood, story-writer Paul Haggis and screenwriter Iris Yamashita have created from their humanistic urge resembles a United Nations made-for-TV movie from 40 years ago, wearing its good heart on its khaki sleeve. Even with the great Ken Watanabe lending command and compassion to the role of General Kuribayashi, it's a formless slog across a treacherous field... Earnest and flaccid, Letters from Iwo Jima spends so much time conveying the similarities of Japanese to American soldiers, even during a gory, pitiless clash, that it says almost nothing about the differences. What kind of culture encourages men to become kamikazes - suicide bombers - and even to commit suicide as an act of honor, redeeming their failures, rather than live with defeat (or even live to fight another day)? In Letters from Iwo Jima, the men who kill themselves with grenades are as distant to the heroes as they are to us... Eastwood isn't as hard on the Japanese - or for that matter, the Americans - as the greatest living Japanese director, Kon Ichikawa, has been on his countrymen and everyone else. This movie pales before Icihkawa's 1961 masterpiece, Fires on the Plain, set during a similar episode of Second World War carnage: the Japanese command's abandonment of their men on Leyte Island in the Philippines. Critic Pauline Kael called Ichikawa's epic "this great visual demonstration that men are not brothers." Letters from Iwo Jima argues so feebly for brotherhood it makes you feel that "the family of man" is just another big lie.

(Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun)

The impulse is commendable; the movie isn't.

(Stephanie Zacharek,

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