Eugene Weekly : Movies : 1.25.07


This Weeks Movie Reviews:

Letters From Iwo Jima Directed by Clint Eastwood.Written by Iris Yamashita. Cinematography, Tom Stern. Music, Kyle Eastwood. Starring Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya and Tsuyoshi Ihara. Warner Bros., 2007. R. 140 minutes.

Ken Watanabe in Letters From Iwo Jima

In his book War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning, Chris Hedges writes that combat friendships are rare because “comrades seek to lose their identities” in battle. It’s a remarkable insight into the emotional toil of war, particularly how sublimation is an act of survival. At the heart of Letters from Iwo Jima, the story of the pivotal 1945 battle from the Japanese perspective, three men — a general, a colonel and a private — find honor in the face of defeat. To say they develop friendships is misleading, although each risks his life so that others might live. Read more…


Volver Written and directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Music, Alberto Iglesias. Cinematography, José Luis Alcaine. Starring Penélope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Dueñas, Blanca Portillo and Yohana Cobo. Sony Pictures Classics, 2006. R. 121 minutes.

Pedro Almodóvar, in the production notes for Volver, says that the most difficult thing about the film “has been writing its synopsis.” He surely exaggerates, but not entirely. Volver is complicated in story and tone (a complication assisted by Alberto Iglesias’ playful, sometimes spooky score). It’s a funny drama, a dramatic romp, a story in which seemingly large events turn out to be small and the smallest moments are quietly laden with meaning. It’s also a return, after the director’s more male-centric Bad Education, to a loving look at the relationships between women, particularly with men out of the picture.Read more…