Flags of Our Fathers
Director Clint Eastwood’s arguably prosaic (but let’s settle on straightforward) approach suits this brutal story of the young men who raised flags over the Japanese island of Iwo Jima during WWII. The country needed a symbol, not only to rally the troops right there on the battlefield (captured in a harsh color palette and all the horror we’ve come to expect in war scenes since the first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan) but also for weary civilians back home who might be sufficiently inspired to dig a little deeper and buy another war bond from a government reduced simply to printing more currency to pay for bullets. Ryan Phillippe (The Way of the Gun, Crash) heads up a testosterone-riddled cast of vintage-military-looking actors admirably reining in their performances, and Adam Beach (Windtalkers) stands out as Ira Hayes, a Marine private ill-suited to a publicity tour for live heroes when so many dead ones haunt his memory. Eastwood, to his credit, manages to keep all those sad, predictable questions about war and symbols to a minimum on the screen, but it did not stop them from teeming in our head.