I wasn't going to blog about movies today, but given the bad taste in my mouth still lingering from that crap-tacular comic adaptation, Ghost Rider, I just felt that I had to.
First up is the Japanese-language, Clint Eastwood-directed World War II film, Letters from Iwo Jima. Earlier, I implied how good Eastwood's other World War II film was, and now, I must say, Letters from Iwo Jima blows that one out of the water in every conceivable aspect. The acting is better, the pacing is better, and despite the fact that both are about the same battle, the plot and story are better. It's definitely the cleaner of the two films, feeling much less sloppy than the hash editing that hurt Flags of Our Fathers.
The film follows the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese point-of-view, which turns a story about the so-called villains into a story about a valiant last stand, one full of honor and loyalty. Admittedly, it was a little strange seeing Americans so clearly depicted as the "bad guys," but it was a little refreshing, and more than a tad relevant. As with its sister film, Letters from Iwo Jima follows a select number of characters, revealing their pasts, hopes, and dreams, leading up to the ultimate revelation that our enemies were not so different from us. A great work of art, this film... Eastwood's real World War II masterpiece.
Next is the Mexican film, Pan's Labyrinth. Also set during the era of World War II, but solely focusing on the Spanish Civil War (or rather, its aftermath), the story follows the adventures of a young girl who joins her mother to live with a cruel Spanish officer. While there, the girl discovers a faun living in the middle of what's basically a glorified hedge maze. The faun reveals that the girl is a soul from another world, and that she has to prove her worth to return to that world as a princess. The girl sets off on her adventures, and the audience is given one Hell of a cinematic experience.
Pan's Labyrinth is a gorgeous film, with style, color, light, and music all working together to create a realistic, yet ethereal tone. Part war movie, part horror film, and part fairy tale, it's a breath of fresh air, and a must-see. To give anything else away would be an injustice, so just take my word for it: go see it.
Also go see Zodiac, but I'll rant about that another time...