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Letters From Iwo Jima

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Clint Eastwood's powerful companion film to Flags of Our Fathers looks at the fighting on Iwo Jima in World War II from the viewpoint of the Japanese soldiers. I prefer it to Flags because the story is less familiar, even if it's told more conventionally, and because an American war film in which Americans become the enemy, emotionally if not intellectually, is a nervy undertaking. Inspired by letters written to his family by the pro-American general Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe), who was sent to Iwo Jima as punishment for his views, Iris Yamashita's screenplay sketches out as many impossible moral dilemmas as Flags did. Eastwood is boldly implying in both films that distinguishing between meaningful and senseless wars may be a civilian luxury. In Japanese with subtitles. R, 142 min. Reviewed this week in Section 1. a Landmark's Century Centre.

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