Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Directors who dare to walk in another man's shoes

Prediction time: One month from now, a lot more people are going to be aware of the film Letters from Iwo Jima for two reasons. First, it will become a frontrunner for a Best Picture Oscar. Second, there will be a gaggle of conservative commentators bitching about it.

It has already won top honors from the American Film Institute, the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. That's quite a feat for a movie that hasn't gotten one tenth the publicity of Flags of Our Fathers, which was filmed by Eastwood back-to-back with Letters. They serve as companion pieces to tell the story of one battle from both sides, and both have their share of inspiring patriotism as well as heartbreaking disillusionment.

My fear is that when people start talking about Oscar, right-wingers will accuse Eastwood of denigrating troops currently in the field as well as bolstering the enemy we now face (or some such nonsense to that effect). The disadvantage right wingers have at playing this kind of game is that their targets are not always so easily swayed or hit.

They came after Spielberg last year for daring to tell both sides of the story in Munich. Palestinians sympathetic? Perish the thought. Old Steven might just convince some people out there that these are real people with motivations that are not as simply defined as "pure evil". When they lashed out at Spielberg, he didn't bat an eye and gave them as good as he got. My admiration for the man went from seeing him as a great director to seeing him as a great human being.

And so I am secretly hoping that they come after Eastwood, so he can fire back at them and tell them just where they can stick it. He's already been through this to a lesser degree with the ending of Million Dollar Baby, and he should be just fine with this one. Go Clint Go!

Incidentally, go check out the website for the film. It's a work of art in and of itself.

No comments: