Monday, February 05, 2007

Not A Movie Review, Workouts.. Sans Clothes

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 Japan, and there was not a whole lot. The only published material he was able to get was a book that had the letters sent from Kuribayashi to his children back in Japan when he was working as an envoy in the US and Canada before the war. I find it interesting how the genesis of the second movie lies in the first and lets is not forget the cross cultural connections here either.

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)

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- 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.

Patrick de Man, owner of Fitworld gym in the town of Heteren, said he got the idea in part from two of his customers who are avid nudists.

"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.

Ah the Dutch.. much more cool about these things than us Americans.


Eli said...

Admittedly, I haven't seen it, but I got the impression that Letters From Iwo Jima was more about ordinary grunts swept up in a nightmarish no-win situation, than it was any kind of attempt to glorify or airbrush the Japanese army.

Fuzzylogic said...

The moive review seems fascinating.I would love to see the movie from the second perspective.War is ugly in any form and from anyside.It will be interesting to see how clint eastwood handled this one and from your review he seems to have made it good.Lol about the naked workouts!what a weird world:)

Sanjay said...

Eli, you are right about your impression. I am not saying that it is an attempt to airbrush, but the other blogger by saying she would not watch cos it reduces the impact of their war atrocities is probably implying that.

@Fuzzylogic, you won't regret watching this movie.
Yup workouts in the buff.. whatever I say.

Sai said...

This movie sounds interesting and there are always two perspectives to every issue.

About working out in the buff....ewwww....I am more concerned about hygeine than being bashful!

Asha said...

I would love to see the first two movies!:))

Maggie said...

I don't believe any army, and I mean ANY, could claim to be perfectly righteous when in war - I think war crimes happen in every war perpetrated by every army involved. It's a part of war - sadly. Which is just another reason war sucks.

I wonder why anyone who is self-conscious about their work out attire wouldn't be self-conscious about working out nude?

RC said...

i loved letters and was glad to see it this weekend...that woman who didn't want to see the film for the reasons of Japanese culture having some blemishes surely is unaware of her own cultures past failings.

Sanjay said...

@Maggie. You got that right. I did not mention the point you made since this was already a big post. Glad you brought it up though. :)

@RC.. Thanks for stopping by. The woman who said this seems failr well rounded in some of her other opinions, so am surprised where this one came from.

meno said...

I saw "Children of Men" this weekend, not "I Told You So" or "Epic Movie". But there were not very many people in the theater so i'll bet you are right,

Nude workouts? What about flapping parts? That sounds painful.

beenzzz said...

I am truly intrigued by your movie review. I must see this. It's good to get different points of view, isn't it?
Naked workouts? Why would someone want to see their fat flapping all over the place? Gross!!!

Sanjay said...

@Sai.. Thanks

@Asha.. Thanks did you like that? We kept putting off seeing Children of Men, I think *A* thought it as too dark and wanted to see it a bit later. Now it's no longer playing. I mgith have to see ti some other place, maybe in Philly.

@Beenzz, you won't be disappointed with the movie.

ML said...

I'm always up for movies and books that depict the "other side". Seems to bring more of a balance to my perspective. That was a great review, by the way.

I can see people being nude at beaches, resorts, etc. They're not doing much but sitting or strolling round for that matter. However, working out in the nude? Hmmm... like having clothes on to absorb the sweat. Can't see how another person is ok sliding around in a puddle of sweat on a bicycle seat. Sorry about the visual discription :)

Mona Buonanotte said...

I wonder if that gym would just let know..."watch"....

Sanjay said...

@Ml.. Thanks. But not for that visual. lol.. Just kidding.

@Mona.. :-d

Beach Bum said...

I have to agree with eli concerning ordinary grunt aspect of Letters from Iwo Jima. From reading the accounts of other people plus talking with some American veterans from previous wars most glorious causes, whether they be American in nature or someone else's, go out the door as soon as the shooting starts leaving the average grunt in a living nightmare. Living through such times usually boils down to just taking care of your buddies as they take care of you. At least thats what I learned when I was in the army.

patches said...

I heard the Terry Gross interview that you spoke of and it made me wan to to see "letters". I look forward to seeing it later. It's not often that you get to view history from more than one perspective.

Diana said...

Personally, I'd think it'd be harder to get a good workout in with all your bits and pieces bouncing about, but as I've never tried it, I am hardly qualified to comment.

Lotus Reads said...

I don't normally enjoy war movies, but your review has definitely got me interested in this one, Sanjay! A really great write-up, thank you!

Working out in the nude, ahhh, no thank you. Wouldn't touch one of those gyms with a disinfected barge pole - honestly,I would be seriously concerned about the hygiene factor!

listmaker said...

I don't usually see war movies, but you've convinced me that I should make an exception for this one.

As for nude workouts - euwww.

Id it is said...

I gave up on Clint Eastwood after he quit acting in those 'western' movies which to this day I enjoy very much. However, I did plan to watch this one, and after your write up, I am sure I will.

Carrie said...

Another movie that I can't watch because of time restraints. :(

uh..I..don't want to see anyone workout in the buff.

Sanjay said...

@beach bum.. you make a great point.

@Patches.. you won't be disappointed with the movie. Pumping iron and soft body parts.. ouch.

@Lotus. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you do get to see this movie.
Good point re workouts.

@Listmaker you will like this one I am sure.

@Id it is. I would watch Clint Eastwood any day. Am a fan of his.

@Carrie. I know i did read your blog but was in a rush and could not comment, will be back later.

Aditi said...

hmm interesting movie review.. i am not sure i have the stomach for it though

deepsat said...

heard of this movie. its in my to-watch list.

indeed clint eastwood has evolved as a fantastic story teller. everytime he makes a movie, its something to watch for!! i remember watching million dollar baby and literally choking on it!!

nude workouts?? LOL!!! ppl r crazy!!

moegirl said...

Totally agree about "Letters From Iwo Jima" now I must rent "Flags"

Ash said...

huff and puff in the buff!

starry nights said...

The movie sounds interesting.Don't know about huffing and puffing in the buff.

Nabeel said...

another mesmerizing character that Clint Eastwood chose .. I loved this kid .. he was perfect for this role, just like Jaguar Paw in Mel Gibson's Apocalypto.

Viewer said...

I will look out for this one

Viewer said...

BTW How r u ?