And away we go – the first Netflix overview of 2011!
Flags of our Fathers (2006, dir. Clint Eastwood). This is a good movie, but not as strong as “Letters from Iwo Jima,” its companion piece (also directed by Eastwood). It differs markedly from the latter film, in that it takes the American point of view, and alternates between scenes depicting the carnage on the island and scenes telling the story of what happened to the flag-raising soldiers after the war. Both are very interesting stories, but for reasons I can’t quite pinpoint, when they’re melded together, the whole feels like less than the sum of its parts. Still, it's worth seeing, if only for the history of the flag-raising.
Appaloosa (2008, dir. Ed Harris). I have to confess that I don’t remember hearing anything about this movie when it came out. If it played in our town, I sure missed it. It’s a very good Western, one that contains many of the requisite classic Western elements: evil cattle baron, mysterious lawman who probably has some skeletons in his closet, trusted deputy, damsel in distress, dusty town…you name it, “Appaloosa” has it. But it all works very well, primarily due to the strength of the leads, Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Their relationship feels real, and there is a funny, ongoing joke in the movie where Harris can never remember what word it is that he’s searching for to complete a sentence, and Mortensen helpfully provides it. Jeremy Irons is a bit hammy as the evil cattle rancher (I couldn’t get the image of Scar out of my head), but the fact that he is in the movie says something about the quality of the cast. And Renee Zellwegger manages not to be too annoying, which I suppose is all one could have hoped for. All in all, an entertaining mix.