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Quint has seen both Clint Eastwood's FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS and Tom Tykwer's PERFUME!!!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with my thoughts on a pair of flicks, one I loved to death and one I thought was good, but disappointing. I saw both PERFUME, by Tom Tykwer, and FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, by Clint Eastwood. So, which is which? Let me start with...

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS

Of the two, this was the film I was most looking forward to. Don't get me wrong, PERFUME looked good, but I was really jonesing for a good war movie. It could be all the CALL OF DUTY 2 I've been playing recently. The footage from the trailer made this look like Clint Eastwood by way of Steven Spielberg, but not a copy of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.

What they don't tell us in the trailers is that the actual battle of Iwo Jima isn't the focus of the movie. I suppose if I was literate and read the original novel upon which this film is based I might have known that, but I didn't, so I was expecting more than just 35% of the film to be a war movie.

That's not to say that the other 65% isn't interesting. What you have is the story of the soldiers who raised the flag in that iconic image from Iwo Jima being used by the Government as a way to sell war bonds. The soldiers go along with it because it is quickly explained to them that the US is running out of money for the war. That means they're about to stop production on weapons, ammunition, tanks, planes, etc, which would put every soldier at more risk.

The story is these guys dealing with being labeled heroes for putting up a flag, their pride in their friends, their shame for not still fighting, their friendship getting them through all that.

I have to say that as much I liked following this weird political aspect to WW2, I missed the battle. I wanted to see the story of Iwo Jima, not the story of how it was used to raise money.

I think I felt that way because of the whole idea I fell in love with... the idea of telling the story of a huge battle, like the fight over Iwo Jima, in two films, one telling the story of the men fighting for the US, the other the same battle, but from the perspective of the Japanese. I think that's fascinating and I'm sure we'll see things brought up in FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS fully realized from that second perspective in LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA next year.

When the battle turned out to only be a fraction of the story in this film I couldn't help but feel disappointed. The whole idea of two films mirroring each other, but from two radically different perspectives, lost a little of its appeal to me if we only spend a small amount of screen-time at the actual battle site.

The acting is strong all across the board, especially from Ryan Phillippe, surprise surprise. Adam Beach is probably the strongest of the main cast, though. He plays the Indian soldier who had a hand in raising the flag and has the most interesting dramatic conflicts in the story. He's being paraded as a hero, yet still can't get served at some restaurants. The military brass even say some really racist, shitty things about him as he's out there raising money for them.

My favorites were the smaller parts... that should have been bigger... You had great character actors during the Iwo Jima battle... Robert Patrick, Barry Pepper (who is required to be a soldier in every WW2 movie ever made), Jamie Bell and even Paul Walker, who is the unlucky fucker to have raised the FIRST flag at Iwo Jima, not the second, iconic one that was immortalized in that photo. He has a very small role, but he was good in the bits he was in.

It was also nice seeing Melanie Lynskey (got a bit of a crush on her, you know) pop up as the attention grabbing fiancee of Jesse Bradford's character.

I'm no Paul Haggis hater. I'm pretty lukewarm on CRASH and really like MILLION DOLLAR BABY, but even I admit his work is starting to show some tell-tale signs. I can feel him on this film. There's a lot of important messages and arcs in this movie, but they all feel very surface level, like the message in CRASH. Important message, but there isn't the complexity you'd expect.

Count me disappointed, but not embittered. The flick is solid, just not the great greatness I was expecting. Here's hoping LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA works a little better for me.

PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER

First thing's first... if you haven't seen the new, full length trailer for this flick... DON'T WATCH IT. DO. NOT. WATCH. IT. I don't know what the hell Dreamworks' marketing department were thinking when they cut that trailer, but it manages to show every big point in the movie, including the big bizarre fucking ending.

Much like FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, PERFUME is based on a novel that I haven't read. However, here that only serviced to give me a story full of surprises. I won't give them all away here, but I will say that I did not expect this film to be a fairy tale. I don't know who sold their souls, but us film fans are reaping the benefits. There's been a rash of badass adult fairy tales this year. PAN'S LABYRINTH, CHILDREN OF MEN and now PERFUME.

The flick is about a troubled boy who was shat out by his mother in the stinkiest, grimiest fish market in one of the world's largest cities. From the first breath his senses were assaulted. We come to discover, through a great narration by the unmistakable John Hurt, that this boy, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) has the keenest nose ever given to a human being. He's fascinated by scent and has an uncanny ability to use his nose for damn near anything. Need to find someone miles away? He can focus on their smell and find 'em. All he needs is a breeze. Need to break down the components of a perfume? He can do it.

Jean-Baptiste becomes obsessed with the idea of preserving the smells of people, especially red-headed women. He believes the smell of a person is their soul, soon finding it departs them shortly after their deaths.

The movie goes down a twisted spiral that descends further and further into this bizarre fantasy world, but instead of pulling you out of the movie by doing so I found I was pulled in deeper.

This is a great flick. Absolutely surprising, off-kilter and complex.

The acting is fantastic, the cast littered with some great characters and great actors playing them, like Dustin Hoffman as a perfumer who is floored by the boy's talent, and the great Alan Rickman as a wealthy Lord fearful for his redheaded daughter's safety when bodies start to turn up in his village.

Ben Whishaw carries the film effortlessly, in the kind of performance you see critics call "Breathtaking" and "Groundbreaking" and "the birth of a star." I don't know how true all that is, but he carries a film that lives and dies based upon your sympathy for Jean-Baptiste Grenouille. If the audience isn't willing to take this journey with him, if he played this too creepy or too over-the-top, the whole film would have crumbled. It would have just been a bizarre trainwreck. Thankfully Whishaw stepped up to the plate and made this film as great as it ended up being.

Much props to RUN LOLA RUN'S Tom Tykwer for successfully helming this material which, by all accounts, was a difficult task to translate from book to film. The flick comes out in the US in December. Mark your calendars!

-Quint
quint@aintitcool.com



Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 18, 2006, 9:53 a.m. CST

    Last Time I Checked

    by Neuron

    Paul Haggis didn't have anything to do with Mystic River. It's called fact checking, look into it...

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 9:55 a.m. CST

    Even a Mediocre Movie From Clint...

    by Read and Shut Up

    ...is better than most of the reheated pap out there. Go, Oh Squinty-Eyed One and make movies.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 9:55 a.m. CST

    FIRST!!!

    by FilmFanatik

    Well if it's as good as Unforgievn or Mystic River I'll be glad to see it.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 9:58 a.m. CST

    all righty...

    by Neuron

    Yeah, Quint, the reason I knew Haggis had nothing to do with Mystic River is because it didn't suck... you're welcome, btw.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 9:59 a.m. CST

    WELL

    by THE KNIGHT

    Sorry Swalled in the sea... Looks like you were actually swallowed in the sea! -_-

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 9:59 a.m. CST

    WELL

    by THE KNIGHT

    Sorry Swallowed in the sea... Looks like you were actually swallowed in the sea! -_-

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Drowning...

    by FilmFanatik

    In Mystic River

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Where was the mention of Mystic River?

    by Garbageman33

    It's called reading, look into it.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 10:19 a.m. CST

    Perfume sounds awesome; I'm

    by TheTalentedMrBond

    Perfume sounds awesome; I'm not so eager about "Flags" There are so many war films out there that a mediocre one is a tough sell for me at least

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 10:29 a.m. CST

    Don't watch the trailer, you'll tell us twice instead

    by Goatboy

    Quint, mate, there's not much point waving a finger about marketing people giving the "the big bizarre fucking ending" and then proceed to tell us it's a fairy tale. Twice. C'mon Quinty, edit the piece before too many people have the reveal...well...revealed.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Can't wait for Perfume

    by Mattapooh

    I read the book almost ten years ago and really dug it, but I had no fucking idea how it could ever be made into a film. It's great hearing positive things about it, hopefully it comes here soon.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 11:26 a.m. CST

    off the record...

    by Datascream

    ...but Wesley Snipes indicted of tax fraud. Faces 16 years in prison. threadjack over.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 11:29 a.m. CST

    Doesn't anyone watch a trailer/commerical anymore?

    by smkovach

    I don't understand what is with people getting the wrong impression about Flags of Our Fathers. Even the guest on Ebert and Roeper complained about the focus of the film. This movie (which I caught last night at a sneak preview) was exactly what I expected from the trailers. It never claimed to be anything but the story of what it was like for those soldiers after becoming the "heroes" of Iwo Jima. I was actually surprised that there was as much "action" as there was. This movie was so good. Being a diehard Spielberg fan, it pains me to say that I liked it better than Saving Private Ryan. I'm so glad Spielberg was a producer on FOUF, so I don't have to feel too guilty. People, I highly recommend seeing this film. The shoddy way our government treated these men and the memories of those who died is a fascinating story. The "limited" action you get is more than enough (for intensity and realism) to keep me satisfied.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Adam Beach...

    by havocSchultz

    Is from up here in Winnipeg...YAY!!! Nice guy too...I had a few drinks with him and talked to him for awhile a couple years back at the film festival here...It's about damn time he gets some props besides being labelled as the dude from Squanto and Windtalkers... Even if the movie sucks - Adam Beach rocks!!!!!!!

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 12:10 p.m. CST

    Tom Tykwer is vastly underrated in the U.S.

    by GenericGeek

    The Princess and the Warrior was excellent, and Heaven was really awesome. Too bad he's not a "geek director", such as Del Toro or Dr. Boll (kidding on that last one).<br> Anyways, really looking forward to Perfume.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 12:34 p.m. CST

    Good reviews

    by Teamwak

    As usual, Qunit. I actually have a feel and potential opinion for these two movies. Colour me interested on both counts.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 12:33 p.m. CST

    I agree: FLAGS has lost its 'Must See' appeal now.

    by uberman

    I'll wait for the DVD. I wanted the battle from two perspectives as well, and certaintly NOT only 35% of a battle.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 12:36 p.m. CST

    Perfume = Europudding

    by peterhengl

    Europudding is a cool term among film lovers in Europe for films that, built upon European film promotion money (from multiple countries at once) are essentially mainstream. 'Cause that's what it is, Perfume: a bad, mainstream-oriented adaptation of a damn good book.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 12:48 p.m. CST

    Response to Uberman

    by smkovach

    I just went back to re-watch the trailer again to make sure I wasn't talking out of my ass above. But damn, what about the trailer makes you think this was a "battle" movie. It is clearly about the aftermath of THE PHOTOGRAPH. Even the tagline on the poster is "A single shot can end the war." The reference there is to the photograph. A camera shot. There is far less than 35% of the trailer time devoted to the battle. And geez, how much of Ryan-type realistic battle footage can any viewer honestly take? The important points of the battle (IMO) were shown. They concentrate on the invasion, leading up to the flag being raised and spend some more time on the specific flag raisers and their fates. Seriously folks, any misconceptions about the purpose of this film is self-imposed.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 12:59 p.m. CST

    wohoo, der Peter Hengl is one cool film lover..

    by Windowlicker74

    first: there's nothing wrong with mainstream movies if they're well executed. I saw Perfume an hour ago and it's a great flick, but if you call that a mainstream movie, what do you call Armageddon? btw I'm European and a film lover at that, but I never heard of this 'cool' term..

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 1:43 p.m. CST

    way off the subject

    by mrfan

    I saw Real Genius the other day on the Comedy Channel. Talk about a flashback.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 1:49 p.m. CST

    don't watch the trailer for Indiana Jones and the

    by durhay

    Last Crusade: it contains the last line in the film.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 1:51 p.m. CST

    don't watch the trailer for "The Negotiator" either

    by durhay

    major plot point spoilage.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Clarification

    by smkovach

    Just to be clear, I'm not saying it's not up to the individual to decide if they want to see "only" 35% battle, I'm saying that if you think that you were going to get something different from that after watching the trailer, than it is your own fault. I'll again say though, that the "only" 35% is plenty. Those scenes are very intense and powerful.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 1:52 p.m. CST

    harysuxafatone

    by Lovecraftfan

    You mean like the classic The Bets Years Of Our Lives. I'm not passing judgement on FOOF but to say that a war must be all war is rather boring and narrow-minded. Just becuase a war movie decides to have dialogue doesn't make it emo.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 2:54 p.m. CST

    Tykwer is Love

    by DOGSOUP

    Winter Sleepers, Ruun Lola Run, The Princess and the Warrior, Heaven, True....this guy is awesome. I don't care wtf "Europudding" is I'll see Purfume because TT is a directorial BADASS. Lola is still one of if not my all time favorite movie.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 3:42 p.m. CST

    SHIT!!!

    by grrr

    i saw FLAGS last night and it blew. it was edited poorly, written poorly and over acted.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 3:50 p.m. CST

    off topic but promoting a You Tube video...

    by Jewish_Batman

    check out this new fake trailer... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBtnDAb7wNQ

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Reply to SMKOVACH

    by uberman

    This was never about the trailor. Never ever. It was about anticiapting for a year now a movie that Clint stated was abouth the battle, then another one a year later from the Japanese perspective. I dont know of any recent movies dealing with the island battles. They were legendary in that they were exceptionally bloody and difficult. We have never seen or understood what those battles and I wanted THAT movie. It is only recently that it came to my attention, "No, no, listen, Uberman: Ya got it all wrong. What we said was that Clint was doing a movie about the Propaganda AFTER that battle." Maybeye its just me, but I never heard that anywhere from anyone at anytime until now. Even the critics appear surprised that the movie was NOT about that battle. Now, that being said I have heard that they are making a movie about the sinking of the USS INDIANAPOLIS and that it focuses on the COURT MARTIAL afterwards. Count me as a renter on that also.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Reply to SMKOVACH

    by uberman

    This was never about the trailor. Never ever. It was about anticiapting for a year now a movie that Clint stated was abouth the battle, then another one a year later from the Japanese perspective. I dont know of any recent movies dealing with the island battles. They were legendary in that they were exceptionally bloody and difficult. We have never seen or understood what those battles and I wanted THAT movie. It is only recently that it came to my attention, "No, no, listen, Uberman: Ya got it all wrong. What we said was that Clint was doing a movie about the Propaganda AFTER that battle." Maybeye its just me, but I never heard that anywhere from anyone at anytime until now. Even the critics appear surprised that the movie was NOT about that battle. Now, that being said I have heard that they are making a movie about the sinking of the USS INDIANAPOLIS and that it focuses on the COURT MARTIAL afterwards. Count me as a renter on that also.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 4:02 p.m. CST

    Reply to SMKOVACH

    by uberman

    This was never about the trailor. Never ever. It was about anticiapting for a year now a movie that Clint stated was abouth the battle, then another one a year later from the Japanese perspective. I dont know of any recent movies dealing with the island battles. They were legendary in that they were exceptionally bloody and difficult. We have never seen or understood what those battles and I wanted THAT movie. It is only recently that it came to my attention, "No, no, listen, Uberman: Ya got it all wrong. What we said was that Clint was doing a movie about the Propaganda AFTER that battle." Maybeye its just me, but I never heard that anywhere from anyone at anytime until now. Even the critics appear surprised that the movie was NOT about that battle. Now, that being said I have heard that they are making a movie about the sinking of the USS INDIANAPOLIS and that it focuses on the COURT MARTIAL afterwards. Count me as a renter on that also.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 4:14 p.m. CST

    Do a movie ...

    by banditmania

    ...about Carlos Hathcock.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 4:13 p.m. CST

    hmmm..

    by smkovach

    Okay, I'll cop to the fact that this movie was not even on my radar until I saw the trailer recently on HDNET. That said, I still say it was exactly what I expected and was in fact looking forward to. I remember seeing Private Ryan on opening night and the reactions of people about the starkness and brutality of that opening battle will remain with me, but having seen FOOF (sorry for the typo earlier), I can honestly say the Ryan is tame. The battle scenes and brutal reality of FOOF is notches above Ryan. I've always had a hard time with people judging something they haven't seen (and we all do it to some degree), but I think you might be surprised by this film.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 4:26 p.m. CST

    Hehehe "Foof" hehehe

    by DOGSOUP

    New vocabulary for "Gayest thing ever said in a TalkBack" award...Ok my 12 year old boy humor is done now...

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 4:49 p.m. CST

    Eastwood Didn't Direct Crash

    by The Ender

    FYI

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 7:16 p.m. CST

    GarbageMan33...

    by Neuron

    He had it in the original post and edited it soon after I made mention of it.

  • Oct. 18, 2006, 8:48 p.m. CST

    FOOF not FOUF

    by smkovach

    ZombiSolutions - I guess I'll have to give it you since I misspelled it a few posts before you. I suck.