‘Flags of Our Fathers’

Clint Eastwood brings us a character inspired war drama based on The Battle of Iwo Jima and the men that raised the flag and inspired the world and became a patriotic symbol of hope, inspiration, and victory.

William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis adapted the screenplay from the book written by James Bradley and Ron Powers. As the producer, Steven Spielberg takes a step into the non-fictional world of feature war drama with Flags by telling the story of the actual men in the service and their families during that time of World War II unlike, Saving Private Ryan – which can be seen as an obvious inspiration during the battle sequences in Flags. Like Steven and his Director of Photography, Janusz Kaminski, Clint and his DP, Tom Stern, chose to portray the battle as a non-glamorous event by using handheld camera techniques, washing the color out from the sequences, and creating brutally realistic effects consisting of both practical and CGI. An example of great CGI usage in the WWII drama is the sequence when the fleet of ships is heading to the island of Iwo Jima and a small group of planes zoom past our main characters on one of the ships. Clint presents the audience with a panoramic view of the fleet of ships slowly plowing through the ocean revealing its gargantuan size. Then Clint presents us with a in-the-crowd POV with our main characters as they wave their hats and cheer on the fighter pilots as the small group of planes jet by at amazing speed. The sequence is visually stunning due to its size and factually stunning due to its detail. One example is when a man falls overboard and his friends laugh, joke, and casually throw him a floating device … as he continues to scream for help, his friends notice the ship isn’t stopping. A man then states,“They’re not going to stop. None of them are … they can’t.” his friends suddenly realize it’s the last time they’ll see him as he floats away into the distance.

The gore level in the movie is realistic and factual. For those with weak stomachs, don’t blame the movie, blame the effects of war for that’s what you’re seeing a glimpse into. One shot, I won’t mention which, pulled me out of the movie due to it’s hokey gore feeling – the type of shot that belongs in a bad horror movie. Maybe it will be cut – maybe not … all in all, it reveals my level of conditioning through horror movies and the use of bad gore. The shot captures the realities sporadic war and how you never know when a shell is going to land at your feet. Clint uses a lot of the sporadic casualties as a way to shock the audience. For example, a soldier will comment on someone’s death near the end of the movie, walk ten feet, suddenly a plume of dirt and smoke engulfs him as a bomb hits below him.

On the other side of this story, there’s the political crisis of bankruptcy as well as campaigning. The writers really bring the truth of the historic statue to the surface along with the characters’ feelings of guilt. The audience grows to love the character for who they are and accept them as an everyday man as well as a hero.

This is an excellent story and short history lesson that everyone can enjoy as an American, neighbor, or moviegoer. It is a notch in the history of film on war and deserves recognition by audiences for the fantastic performances, direction, writing, special effects, make-up, and wardrobe. For the little I knew about the event, I found the film uplifting, revealing, educational, and it moved me as a person who was served by those men in The Battle of Iwo Jima and as a moviegoer.Be sure to stick around through the credits in order to catch a quick glimpse of the memorial set up at the top of Iwo Jima were the flag stands.



‘The Black Dahlia’

From the director of Scar Face, the writer of L.A. Confidential, and the most famous unsolved murder mystery right here in Hollywood, there’s only one thing to think: “I have to see it!”

September 16, 2006, the picture was released to Friday night movie goers who were sold on the sensationally eerie marketing campaign. The radio spots mentioning,“The body was cut in half,” and “The most notorious murder mystery”. The release of non-fiction books about The Black Dahlia revealing disturbing photos from the actual crime scene, autopsy, and investigation. Most photos so disturbing that I would have to cover them with my hand just to look at the neighboring page. This impact of the case and inhumane cruelty Elizabeth Short went through forced me to want to learn more about her, the case, the monsters behind her murder, and possible cover ups. So when September 16th rolled around, I just had to see the movie. Maybe it would reveal more facts about the case that weren’t in the book. Due to the uncontrollable desire to get to the bottom of the case and make sure the murderer was put to justice, many audience members may have gone to the movie with a misunderstanding of what the movie was about. Even though the TV spots marketed the detective’s story to the audience, the audience wanted to find out one thing and one thing only … who was the monster?

As stated above, I became very interested in the case and who could do such a thing and why. As a result, I entered the movie theater hoping for something that wouldn’t be there. Not a great ending, not great acting, but an answer. This might have played against the film in an extreme way. Many audiences say they ‘hated’ the film, but that’s a little too tunnel-vision for me.

Looking back at it, the movie was a fantastic murder mystery. Lets pretend the case wasn’t based on The Black Dahlia case and that it was all pure fiction – great murder mystery! Great acting, maybe a little mis-casting maybe not, great twists, great ties, this movie had everything we as an audience could want … except the one thing we went for – the truth. The movie might not have had a better gross if the marketing entailed the “fictionalized” aspect to The Black Dahlia story, but it might have saved the movie from bad reviews, which may eventually hurt the DVD grosses.

All in all, the movie was good, but another Black Dahlia story needs to hit the screen, one revealing the truth, the secrets, and the legend.


‘Flushed Away’

As Roddy the mouse sleeps peacefully in his owner’s mansion, a sudden explosion of water spits up through the drains revealing Sid, a sewer rat who reflects the average male in today’s world. Sid takes over the joint, turns the television to the World Cup. Roddy has enough, and attempts to outsmart Sid by insisting he gets into the swirling ‘Jacuzzi’ before the game. Sid suddenly shoves Roddy into the toilet and Roddy is Flushed Away to the underground sewers.

As Roddy swirls down the drains toward the sewer, he hits corner after corner in an old-fashioned kind of comic humor, catches an orange fish who asks, “Have you seen my dad?” and finally falls into a river of sewer water where he encounters sewer slugs. Originally the slugs only had the bit part during Roddy’s intro to the sewer but because of their popularity and laugh-out-loud visual and audible humor, the slugs appear again and again through out the movie.

The movie is outrageously exciting for the kids and hilariously relevant to today’s world for the adults. The adventure follows two little mice, Rita and Roddy, voiced by Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet, as they make a ‘spit-n-handshake’ deal to take on the impossible and head back “up top” to the surface form the sewers in order to get back to Roddy’s home where he then will set Rita on her way with a real ruby – due to the fact that he broke her treasured glass ruby. The characters’ goals a clear, motivated, and classically short-ended producing an emotional climactic ending as they realize their goals didn’t involve each other. The emotion is light, the humor is layered, and the creative sewer world is unlike anything seen before.

The conflict is high, smart, yet light enough for kids; Toad wants to steal a power cable from Rita, whom uses it as a belt, in order to power the giant door to the sewer line to open during the half time of the World Cup. Why? Because like Sid, everyone always waits to go to the bathroom until half-time, which means if the doors are open, the city of rodents will be destroyed and Toad, along with his army of infant tadpoles, will rule the under world. It’s a great twist on flash floods from a writer’s point of view because it’s not just a flood of water, it’s a flood of … anyway – the stakes are high for our two protagonists and the comic relief is around every corner – in the form of slugs.

The movie personifies not only the animals superbly but also the situations and characters involved resulting in a powerful message that wealth and loneliness simply don’t compare to love and family. Whether it is classic movie homage or slap-tick humor this movie has it all.

Overall, this movie is a fantastic ride for kids and adults and surprises audiences over and over with new jokes, old jokes, and everything in between.


‘101 Dalmatians’

An original Disney classic, which moved away from the beloved romantic style of animation and into the modern age. If you’re a fan of Disney classics, this 101 is for you.

As computer generated animation continues to deliver wonderful, fresh adventures for audiences across the globe, it’s easy to forget how equally wonderful its predecessors were. One title recently re-released by Disney, for example, wooed audiences with its groundbreaking technical achievements, its adventurous story, and on a subtler note, its catchy music.

One Hundred and One Dalmatians was one of Disney’s greatest achievements in animation, not only artistically, but technologically as well. Though Disney wasn’t happy of the shift from the romantic artwork previously produced for Pinocchio, Dumbo, and Bambi, it proved the studio’s ability to adapt and give the audience something new. Walt was adamant about bringing in the best talent in every field throughout the production, and the writer is by no means an exception. Dodie Smith, the famous English children’s author, sold the rights to Walt Disney, whom was a great fan of the story, and to her surprise, her story came to life on the silver screen.

The classic tale tells the story of two Dalmatians who venture into the harsh, cold world in search of their litter of puppies, who were abducted by the evil, fashion-obsessed Cruella De Vil.

The picture opens with a vibrant credit sequence, which playfully uses various plays on spots as a way to foreshadow the film’s canine characters. With this, the audience is captured straightaway, and with the combination of an efficient first act set-up, the audience is entertained and wrapped into the story. The perspective from a common household pet is a fresh spin for Disney, and drives a lot of the humor in the picture. The first taste of the creative humor is almost immediate as Pongo, the dog and narrator of the picture introduces us to his owner, “That’s my pet, Roger.” The opening also immediately sets up the central relationship between the dogs and their “pets” as Pongo makes a valiant effort to introduce Roger to the beautiful stranger in the park. The picture could easily end there, with Pongo’s mission accomplished, but unfortunately for him, it’s only the beginning. Cruella De Vil makes her screen appearance in a fantastic, legendary performance, which seamlessly strikes a chord of fear in the audience, and subtly foreshadows the central conflict.

Thanks to the Xerox method, which allows drawing to be copied onto cells, One Hundred and One Dalmatians is the first animated feature to present the Disney animators’ original drawings unlike the predecessors, which presented the works of the artists whom interpreted the original artists’ work onto cells.

Overall, the picture is a fun, adventurous, nail-biter, which strays from Disney’s signature musical style, and into a subtler, seamless fashion. The story is comedic, fresh, and imaginative, and drives the audience to a climactic finale, which supports the thematic value of the movie with gusto, and proves that the improbable is possible.


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