Tag: wwii

MOVIE REVIEW| Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A compelling story, great acting, high drama, thrilling tension and a big payoff.”

Bad 1

“They’re gonna kill you with no hard feelings.”

The top three highest grossing movies of last year were Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory and Zootopia.  Many film purists might find it disheartening that only one of the three was based on a totally new property, but I’m troubled by a different trend of modern movie making.  While Finding Dory clocks in at an economical 97 minutes, Captain America and Zootopia will respectively take up 147 and 108 minutes of your life.  Of the rest of the movies that round out the top 10, only one is under 100 minutes.  And that one is The Secret Life of Pets, so I’m sure even its scant 87 minutes feel like a lot longer.

What I’m getting at is, most moves over 90 minutes don’t need to be.  Hardly any movie needs to break the two hour barrier.  But bigger budgets and bigger spectacles mean we are increasingly subjected to bigger ass aches as we are trapped in cinema seats for ever increasing amounts of time per movie.  But I have proof that you don’t always need a lot of time to fit in a lot of awesome.  You can have a compelling story, great acting, high drama, thrilling tension and a big payoff.  And you can have it all in 81 minutes, including credits, with Bad Day at Back Rock. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Run Silent Run Deep (1958)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I’m not saying that Run Silent Run Deep is the best submarine picture out there, but I am saying that it’s the one that made me realise what a unique and great part of cinema history the submarine picture is.”

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“Mr. Cartwright, with all due respect to your rank, may I say I think you’re an ass?”

I used to make fun of my dad for once walking into a video shop and asking where the “submarine pictures” were.  The idea of him thinking they were their own genre seemed so goofy to me.  But the more I watch, the more I realise the “submarine picture” isn’t far from being its own genre.  Separate from war movies, and even from navy specific war movies, they have their own filmic language, they have their own devices, rules and even clichés.  And I started to really notice this while watching Run Silent Run Deep.

We’re balls’ deep in WWII, and an area known as the Bungo Straights has seen many a US ship and sub sunk by the enemy Japanese.  At home in Pearl Harbour, Lt. Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster) is on the verge of getting command of his own boat. Until an old seadog, Commander BJ ‘Rich’ Richardson (Clark Gable) decides he’d like a sub to command.  Now he’s in charge, Bledsoe is his number two, and they’re shipping out with a disgruntled crew, heading towards the Bungo Straights. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN MOVIE WEEKEND*** Das Boot (1981)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I was gripped by every single altercation, every little character moment, every instance of nail biting tension as the boat sinks deeper, or the enemy destroyers get closer.”

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The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

“Hail and victory and sink ’em all!”

At this stage, I must have seen World War II depicted in close to a hundred different movies and TV shows.  And until now, all but one had been clearly told from the allied perspective.  And they almost always come down to the Americana and British as the goodies and the Germans and Japanese as the baddies.  Even with Downfall, the ‘all but one’ referred to earlier, all about Germans, told from a German perspective, you still get the comfortable familiarity of Hitler being the ultimate evil.  But now I have a whole new view of World War II from a German angle with Das Boot.

Lt. Werner (Herbert Grönemeyer) boards U-96, a German submarine, as a war correspondent.  Early on, he acts as the audience surrogate.  As the outsider, he can react to the extreme conditions these sailors seem to have somehow grown accustomed to.  None more so than the U-boat’s captain, played by Jürgen Prochnow. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***TOM WEEK*** Emperor (2012)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A unique perspective on the war and the actions of both sides, that I really enjoyed seeing for the first time.”

Emperor 1
“This has nothing to do with punishment, Your Majesty. I need your help. So, let’s see what we can do to get Japan back on its feet.”

As far as movies about the Second World War go, the battles in Europe against the Germans get way more attention than the battles in the Pacific against the Japanese.  And even when there are movies about the battle in the Pacific against the Japanese, they seem to be mostly concerned with jungle warfare on tiny, remote islands.  And I never thought there was another story to be told, until I watched Emperor.  Now, I can’t believe there aren’t more movies about this amazingly interesting subject; How did Japan rebuild after America dropped two atomic bombs?

The Japanese have surrendered, and General Douglas McArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) has been tasked with getting the country back on its feet.  To help, he enlists General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox).  Fellers has been tracking down Japanese war criminals and now he has to go after the most high profile of all, Japanese Emperor Hirohito (Katataro Kataoka).  But the thing is, trying the supreme leader of Japan for war crimes isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem.  It might keep the American public happy, but it would also leave Japan open to takeover by the communist Chinese. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Naked Among Wolves (2015)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “This is a perspective of the war and of concentration camps that I don’t think I have ever seen depicted before.”

The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

Wolves 1
“You think the Americans will come and save you?”

World War II and everything that comes with it have inspired probably thousands of movies at this point.  The History Channel is basically the World War II Channel and interest in the subject seems to be as strong as ever.  I think that’s because it’s the kind of story that is almost stranger than fiction.  Adolf Hitler is a villain that would seem too over the top an implausible if he was a work of fiction, while Churchill and FDR have become these larger than life figures that seem too noble to have ever actually existed in real life.  Yet there they all are, in our history books.  The Holocaust is also something that is so evil, so atrocious, so impossible to comprehend, that there could be a million movies made about it, and the full impact will never be felt by people who didn’t live through it.  Which is why movies like Naked Among Wolves are still so effective and so important.

In 1943, German Jew Hans Pippig (Florian Stetter) is arrested along with his father for spreading Bolshevik propaganda and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp.  While his elderly and frail father succumbs to the harsh conditions and dies almost immediately, Pippig is taken under the wing of some comrades and taught the ways of survival in the camp. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Patton (1970)

Patton 1
“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

Before he was regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time, Francis Ford Coppola was already an Oscar winner. And the fact that he wrote a screenplay for Patton, won an Oscar for it, and that is well down the list of reasons people remember this movie, is a testament to just how may reasons there are to watch Patton.


It‘s 1943 and the Americans have officially entered the Second World War. After their first salvo into the fray is a massive defeat in Africa, General George S Patton (George C Scott) is given command and tasked with whipping them into shape. He does this through a strict regime of zero tolerance when it comes to soldiers acting like soldiers, and soon the American have their first major victory over the Germans. With old friend and fellow General Omar Bradley (Karl Malden) by his side, Patton leads his units through Africa and is a major force behind an important win in Sicily. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** The Tin Drum (1979)

The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

Drum 1 
“There once was a drummer. His name was Oskar.”

So, I just watched The Tin Drum. And I really hope that writing this review helps me process what I thought of it. Because right now, I’m struggling.

At the turn of the 20th century, an arsonist is running through the Polish countryside, pursued by police. He hides under the many skirts of a potato farmer which leads to an affair and the birth of their daughter, Agnes (Angela Winkler). After World War I, Agnes marries a local man, Alfred (Mario Adorf), while also having an affair with her cousin, Jan (Daniel Olbrychski). When her son Oskar is born, the identity of the father is unclear, but all three adults help raise him in a surprisingly amicable agreement.


For his third birthday, Oskar (David Bennent) receives a tin drum that he becomes obsessed with playing. Later that night, when he sees the illicit details of his mother and Jan’s still burning affair, he is disgusted by the world of adults and declares that he will never grow any bigger or older. He will remain three forever. Throwing himself down the cellar stairs somehow makes his wish come true. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #3. Casablanca (1942)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

Casablanca

“You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.”

I remember the first time I saw Casablanca. All I could think was, I get it. I get why this movie is still so well known, heavily referenced and so firmly in the zeitgeist more than half a century after its release. I get why Humphrey Bogart is someone I’ve recognised my entire life, even though he died almost 30 years before I was born. I think I’d seen most of The Maltese Falcon on telly once as a kid, but Casablanca was the one that really sealed the deal in making me realise Bogart’s name in the credits was reason enough to watch absolutely anything. Watching Casablanca today for this AFI countdown, is the third time I’ve seen the movie. And none of that initial awe has worn off in those three viewings.


It’s 1941, and as Nazi occupation spreads across Europe, the African city of Casablanca becomes a heavily trafficked port for refugees trying to escape Hitler’s control and make their way to the neutral United States. This kind of passage requires knowing the right people who can help subvert official channels. People like Rick Blaine (Bogart). A former gun runner and mercenary, he now runs a nightclub in the titular city where back room deals go down. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Valkyrie (2008)

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“The Fuhrer’s promises of peace and prosperity have fallen by the wayside leaving in their wake a path of destruction.”

In the 90s, Bryan Singer was the next big thing. The Usual Suspects was the cool little movie that broke big and helped launch the career of Kevin Spacey. And along wih Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Singer’s first two X-Men movies pretty much defined what comic book movies have been ever since. Then he gave up a lot of his goodwill by making Superman Returns, a truly terrible, boring movie. These days, he’s a little all over the shop. X-Men: Days of Future Past is pretty great, while Jack the Giant Slayer looked like a colossus mess of terrible CGI and little else.


In between, is Valkyrie. I remember a lot of buzz before it came out, then it just kind of fizzled away. No one loved it, but no one hated it either. How could a movie about a plot to kill Hitler, starring Tom Cruise, directed by Singer be a fizzler? I could understand it being amazing, I could understand it being amazingly bad, but I couldn’t believe it fell in that boring, middle ground. Although, the fact that I’m only now getting to Valkyrie, seven years after its release, is a sign of how little an impact its release obviously made on me. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Decision Before Dawn (1951)

Decision
“We just closed our eyes and went along, until we found ourselves forced to fight the wrong enemy.”

I expect a certain tone and outlook from WWII movies based on their vintage.  Anything made in the 40s or 50s is going to be extremely one sided, patriotic and jingoistic.  In the 70s, I’ll expect something a little more cynical.  The 90s or later, it’s probably gonna have some post-modern, meta spin on it.  So when I watched Decision Before Dawn, a WWII move made just five years after the war, I was in no way ready for what I got.


It’s the last days of the war, and while an allied victory seems pretty much assured, the Germans still have a little fight in them and won’t surrender.  Trying something new, the allies begin training German POWs as spies, and sending them back across enemy lines to work against the Third Reich from the inside.  Those spies include Tiger (Hans Christian Blech), a cynical old bloke who’s happy to fight for whichever side he thinks is most likely to win.  And Happy (Oskar Werner), a young idealist, who genuinely believes in the allied cause and wants to do his part. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

 Bridge

“I hate the British! You are defeated but you have no shame. You are stubborn but you have no pride. You endure but you have no courage.”

Some movies defy their age.  They refuse to ever become stodgy, dated or old fashioned.   Some movies continue to look amazing, no matter how little technology was available at the time.  Some movies make it immediately clear why they’ve earned legendary or masterpiece status.  Very few movies do all of that is thoroughly though, as The Bridge on the River Kwai.


After burying who is obviously just the latest in a long list of fellow prisoners, American WWII POW Shears (William Holden) witnesses his Japanese captors march in a large platoon of new British prisoners.  Lead by Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) , the prisoners are being forced to build a bridge vital to the Japanese war machine’s supply effort.  But in the jungles of Burma where workers die daily of malaria, dysentery and good old fashion physical abuse, the construction isn’t going so well. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Escape From Sobibor (1987)

Sobibor
“I just can’t believe it. We’re actually killing SS men. I mean, that’s a hard thing to believe. Killing them. It’s beautiful. I just can’t believe it!’”

I grew up with pretty lenient parents when it came to watching movies.  The youngest of three, my pre-teen 80s memories are more populated by boob-tatsic stuff like Police Academy and Revenge of the Nerds than Disney classics.   I think I’ve grown up to be a pretty well adjusted dude, and I think the fact that I saw Goodfellas and Reservoir Dogs when I was 12 or 13 just made me ahead of the curve when it came to appreciating awesome cinema.  It also meant I saw some pretty confronting stuff that I really think was necessary, if for no other reason than to get an appreciation for history.


Escape From Sobibor was made in 1987.  I know I saw it after someone in my family taped it off the telly.  I also know I saw it crazy young, considering it’s a movie about the holocaust.  So I’m gonna assume I saw it when it was a first release TV airing, probably before 1990, which means I was maybe 10 years old, tops.  My memory is also that it was some sort of watershed movie in our house, and that I saw it more than once.  Now, I know it’s minimum two decades since I have seen Escape From Sobibor, and it it’s some hardcore shit for a bloke in his mid 30s.  Buggers me how my 10ish year old mind ever got around it all those years ago. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #37. The Bes Years of Our Lives (1946)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
 thebestyearsofourlives

“Oh, I was in plenty of battles, but I never saw a Jap or heard a shell coming at me. When we were sunk, all I know is there was a lot of fire and explosions. And I was ordered topsides and overboard.”

Apart from the name of director William Wyler, I don’t recognise a single person involved with The Best Years of Our Lives.  And while it won a swag of awards on release, I don’t feel like it gets talked about all that much today.  I saw The Best Years of Our Lives about five or six years ago, and it’s a movie I’ve thought about a lot in the time since.  The story and performances have stayed with me, and I was glad that this AFI countdown gave me an excuse to watch it again.  On re-watch, all I can think is, why isn’t The Best Years of Our Lives, and every actor on screen in it, talked about all that much today.


World War II has come to an end, and three serviceman meet on a military plane, making their way back to their small, home town.  There’s Fred (Dana Andrews), the suave airman who only knew his wife for a month or so before shipping off for three years fighting in Europe.  There’s fresh faced young sailor Homer (Harold Russell), who lost both of his hands when his ship was sunk.  And middle aged soldier Al (Frederic March), heading home to his wife and two kids who have grown from children to young adults while he was away. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Big Red One (1980)

Big Red One

“Saving that Kraut was the final joke of the whole goddamned war. I mean we had more in common with him than all our replacements who got killed whose names we never even knew.”

Lee Marvin is a Hollywood legend who I recognise, but I’m not sure if I could name a single one of his movies off the top of my head (and it turns out I’ve even written about one here).  l know what he looked like, I know the general persona he brought to a role and I know he’s pretty awesome.  So why haven’t I seen more of his movies?  And if I was gonna make concerted effort to see more of his work, shouldn’t I go back the 50s or 60s?  I probably shouldn’t go to the 80s, one of the worst decades in movie making history.  Yet, that’s exactly what I did when I watched The Big Red One.


Fighting in the First Infantry Division, nicknamed the Big Red One, a ragtag group of soldiers make their way through World War II, from Africa into Europe.  Narrated by Pvt Zab (Robert Carradine), we meet their leader, Lee Marvin as The Sergeant, Mark Hamill as Pvt Griff, and a few others who never made enough of an impression on me to be buggered finding their names of the characters or the actors who played them. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Kelly’s Heroes (1970)

Kelly's Heroes

“Him? Name’s Kelly. Used to be a lieutenant, pretty good one, too, till they gave him orders to attack the wrong hill.  Wiped out a half a company of G.I.’s. Somebody had to get the blame and he got picked.”

Writing this blog has been great for making me finally get my finger out and watch classics I should have seen years ago.  It’s been great for making me watch new and different things, instead of re-watching old favourites again and again and again.  But the biggest surprise benefit has become going in blind, knowing nothing about a movie before I press play.  Usually, it’s because a title sounds kind of familiar, and that’s the extent of my knowledge.  It doesn’t result in something great every time, but I think I have pretty good strike rate with everything being at the very least interesting and unexpected.  Well, I got interesting, unexpected, funny and really great, with Kelly’s Heroes.


It’s the Second World War, and while complete victory is still a ways a way, the allies definitely have momentum on their side.  During a raid on a Nazi occupied town in France, Private Kelly (Clint Eastwood) manages to kidnap a German Colonel.  With the aid if some liquor fuelled interrogation, Kelly learns from the drunken kraut that there is a bank vault, not too far away, filled with $16million in gold.  That knowledge, added to the fact that Kelly’s platoon has just been sent to the rear to have a break from the action, is all Kelly needs to decide that gold is as good as his, with a little help from a rag tag group of movie friendly soldiers. (more…)

***2014 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | The Monuments Men (2014)

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From TV hunk, to a pretty rocky beginning on the big screen, to legit super star, to respected director, George Clooney’s career has been pretty interesting to watch.  Confessions of Dangerous Mind is was the perfect directorial debut to show he was a real film maker with real ideas.  Goodnight and Good Luck was a deserved award winner that got plenty of attention at the time, but doesn’t seem to be all that talked about these days.  Leatherheads seemed like a bit of a tossed off dick around of Clooney having fun.  It was nothing to rave about, but it was perfectly fine.  The Ides of March was a return to trying something a little more important, along the lines of Goodnight and Good Luck, but it came and went without leaving much of an impression.  But now, Clooney gets his first chance at a big budget, big star cast, big everything kind of movie, with The Monuments Men.


The Second World War is coming to a close and Hitler is on the ropes.  But that hasn’t stopped him stealing and amassing the greatest pieces of art on offer as he makes his way through Europe.  Now, there are two possible outcomes.  Either the Nazis win the war and the art will all be shown in the planned Furher Museum, a massive literal building and even bigger figurative wank.  Or, the Nazis lose, and follow Hitler’s orders to destroy all these masterworks before the allies can get their hands on them. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | South Pacific (1958)

South Pacific

“It is a common mistake for boys of your age and athletic ability to underestimate men who have reached their maturity. Young women frequently find older men attractive, strange as it may seem.”

Some movie titles are so iconic and engrained in my mind, I assume I’ve seen them before. Or even when I know I haven’t seen them, I assume I at least know what they’re about, what to expect. It was only recently I realised I had never seen South Pacific. It seems like one of those classics I would have caught as a Saturday afternoon movie on telly when I was a kid. Not only had I never seen it before, watching South Pacific for the first time made me realise I knew nothing about its story, apart from its setting.


It’s the Second World War, and while American troops are going through hell in Europe, things against Japan in the Pacific haven’t quite kicked off yet. Bored and secluded on a tropical island, Navy men, lead by Luther Billis (Ray Walston, AKA, My Favourite Martian) kill time trading souvenirs with local islander “Bloody” Mary (Juanita Hall) and ogling the military nurses, represented mainly by Mitzi Gaynor as Nellie. A real mission comes to the island in the form of Lt. Joseph Cable (John Kerr). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Notorious (1946)

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“Miss Huberman is first, last, and always not a lady. She may be risking her life, but when it comes to being a lady, she doesn’t hold a candle to your wife, sitting in Washington, playing bridge with three other ladies of great honor and virtue.”

Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman… Even Claude Rains… These are all names that alone mean a movie is more than likely worth my time. But when you put them all together, my hopes are gonna unavoidably get pretty high. So does this imposing combo live up to expectations in Notorious?


It’s 1946, WWII has just been put in the ‘Win’ column of the Allied ledger and the world is busy rounding up the Nazis who managed to make it out. The latest to be caught is the Nazi spy father of Ingrid Bergman’s Alicia. Needing someone on the inside of a Nazi conspiracy, the Americans decide Alicia is the perfect candidate. She’s recruited by Cary Grant as TR Devlin. The only problem is, the two fall in love during their mission prep, which makes things really awkward when it turns out the Nazi conspiracy is lead by one of Alicia’s old German flames, Alex (Claude Rains). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FONDA WEEK*** Mister Roberts (1955)

MIster
“We’ve got nothing to do with the war. Maybe that’s why we’re on this ship, cause we’re not good enough to fight. Cause our glands don’t secrete enough adrenaline, or our great-great-grandmothers were afraid of the dark or something.”

When director John Ford teamed up with actor Henry Fonda for Young Mr Lincoln, I got exactly what I expected form a biopic about an American president made by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda. It was very earnest, very respectful, and very reverential. So when I fired up Mister Roberts and saw John Ford’s name appear in the credits, I was expecting a similar earnest, respectful, reverential approach to American sailors during the Second World War. While I did get that to some degree, I got a lot of stuff I didn’t expect as well.


World War II is underway in the Pacific. Aboard the merchant ship the USS Reluctant, morale is low. Under the official leadership of the despotic, Napoleonic Captain Morton (James Cagney), the men actually follow their much more beloved cargo officer, Lt. Roberts (Henry Fonda). As the movie opens, none of the men have the left the ship for any form of recreation leave in over a year. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

iwo_jima
War movies have long moved past the concept of good guys versus bad guys. While Hitler will most likely remain the ultimate evil of the modern age, recent war movies are more likely to depict the soldiers who served under him as unfortunate kids who were just as innocent and noble as the unfortunate kids fighting for the Allies.


Clint Eastwood decided to take that notion even further, making two entire movies about one seminal World War Two battle, showing it from each side. First, there was Flags of Our Fathers, the story of the American Marines who took Iwo Jima. Then, later that same year, came Letters From Iwo Jima, the story of the Japanese troops fighting to hold it. (more…)