In 1997, Clint Eastwood's film Absolute Power irked the Asian community for its depiction of a thoughtless, insulting Asian stereotype, a waiter in a restaurant scene. Now, ten years later, Eastwood has completely redeemed any questions from that incident with this companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers, the flipside of the Iwo Jima conflict told entirely from the point of view of the Japanese. The film opened a few weeks ago in Japan, reportedly to enthusiastic response, prompting Warner Bros to change the release date from February of 2007 to December, qualifying it for awards.
Letters from Iwo Jima is significantly more interesting than its predecessor, not only because it's more focused, but also because it raises some interesting issues of cultural representation. Eastwood seems to have been very careful in his depiction, hiring the Japanese-American screenwriter Iris Yamashita to handle the details (though Westerner Paul Haggis has a co-story credit). Now we have Japanese characters that misunderstand and misrepresent their American counterparts, believing that they're cowardly and undisciplined. But amazingly, Letters from Iwo Jima is still a Clint Eastwood piece, full of his singular bravado.