Letters From Iwo Jima
The Clint Eastwood Directed “Letters From Iwo Jima” is on a lot of top ten movie lists. We finally got to see this movie on Saturday. It is every bit as good as the critics said it was. The other reason I was keen on seeing this movie was that a blogger who I sometimes read said she did not want to watch this movie. To quote her..
“I know in my last movie post I mentioned I was planning on seeing Clint Eastwood's two WWII films from this year. But the more I think about it, I'm not sure I want to see a movie about Japanese soldiers. After all, these are the people who brought you the Rape of Nanking, sexual slavery of Korean women, and the Bataan Death March. I nominate the Japanese military as a finalist in the category of Worst Perpetrator of War Crimes in the Modern Age”
Most people would not deny that the Japanese military did commit some pretty gruesome war crimes that cannot be justified. I still think she is wrong in how she is characterizing this. I don’t think the possibility can be ignored that one might be caught in circumstances or a conflict, due to forces that they can never even imagine to even begin to influence. Besides, this movie is not at all an attempt to airbrush the atrocities that were committed by the Japanese military it is about one battle in a long brutal war.
A bit about the movie..
I absolutely loved this movie and it stayed with me even for a while after. I think this movie was in a sense a unique experiment. Here is an American director who is taking you to a place which has not been done in a manner like this. While “Flags Of Our Fathers” portrayed the conflict from the American side, “letters” does so from the Japanese perspective. If you want to learn more about this battle here is a wikipedia link. So as an American you go to see this movie and might find yourself rooting for some of these soldiers to not shoot or be shot at and get out alive. Certainly not all soldiers in this movie are deserving of this sentiment.
I think movie succeeds because it manages to bridge the cross cultural gap almost single handedly via the vision of Clint Eastwood. The idea for this movie did not really come about until the process of making of “Flags Of Our Fathers”. I heard this great interview by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, where Clint Eastwood talks about the making of this movie.
He was fascinated by Kuribayashi Tadamichi as his American peers considered him a clever man. He asked for some material about him from
The other thing about this movie is that it is in Japanese, I liked that they did not try to make it in the English language. Watching movies with subtitles can be an issue for some movie goers I do not think this is one of them.
The movie is shot is color, but the color has almost be de-saturated to use a term that I have heard used with this movie. I think that almost ends up giving this movie a documentary like feel.
For me this movie was very moving to watch. There is a scene where a group of Japanese soldiers commit suicide in the caves by blowing themselves up with grenades. This is terrifying to watch and at the same time heart rending because there is one soldier who does not want to die, the conflicting emotions on his face are obvious as he is about proceeds to kill himself, pictures of his family in his hands.
Ken Watanabe I thought did a great job playing general Kuribayashi. The one soldier you will want to see survive is Saigo(on the newsweek cover) played by Kazunari Ninomiya. The scene with his pregnant wife as he gets ready to head to battle is touching.
If I had to just say how this movie is in a few words, I would say this is not your conventional war movie, it has a raw power about it and yet there is nuance, humanity and tenderness in some of these characters. The movie is a cinematic tour de force and one that is not easy to forget as you leave the theater.
UPDATE: RC's blog tells me that this great movie came 15th in the box office take for this weekend. Oy! What are people watching? The Messengers, Because I Said So, and Epic Movie?*shakes head*What were you thinking, I was gonna talk about my naked workouts eh? ;) kidding..
Naked Workouts (Link)
Ah the Dutch.. much more cool about these things than us Americans.
-- Self-conscious about what you wear while working out? A Dutch gym plans to introduce "Naked Sunday" for people who like to huff and puff in the buff. AMSTERDAM, Netherlands
Patrick de Man, owner of Fitworld gym in the town of
, said he got the idea in part from two of his customers who are avid nudists. Heteren
"I heard that some other gyms are offering courses on 'pole-dancing' as a sport, so I thought: Why not bring something new to the market?" de Man said.
He said the response had been overwhelming _ positive and negative.
The 70,000-member Dutch Federation of Naturists was curious to see if Fitworld's plan would work, spokesman Bernd Huiser said.
"We recently conducted a large survey among our members, and most prefer to exercise with their clothes on," he said. "The most popular activities (for nudists) are things you do outdoors, like walking on the beach, or swimming in a lake, or maybe gardening."
De Man said the first question Fitworld customers were asking was whether it would be sanitary.
Nude exercisers would be required to put towels down on weight machines and to use disposable seat covers while riding bikes. All machines would be cleaned and disinfected afterward. "We clean them every day anyway," he said.