Rent This: Flags of Our Fathers
It's interesting that Clint Eastwood's first World War II epic of 2006, told from the viewpoint of brave young American soldiers (played by brave young Hollywood B-listers like Ryan Phillippe, Paul Walker and Jesse Bradford), has found itself second fiddle to the director's foreign-language companion piece, Letters from Iwo Jima. That's right: In the World of Eastwood, the Japanese won the Battle of Iwo Jima (Movies). But there's still a lot to appreciate about Flags: I was surprised how much Eastwood focused on the phenomenon of the flag-raising photo and how it was used to trump support (and more importantly, money) for the war versus the actual battles that came before and after that singular moment in time. The battle scenes are fierce and impactful, even if the disjointed layout of the film makes it a challenge to follow the mission at hand. And on-the-rise actor Adam Beach, as Native American soldier Ira Hayes (greeted by every character he encounters with their own unique ethnic slur for him) does indeed shine, even if those whispers of Oscar buzz never materialized.
Rent This: The Science of Sleep
It may not have inspired as fervent a response as beloved Charlie Kaufman-penned mind-benders like Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but does that mean The Science of Sleep doesn't belong in their company? Yes and no. Michel Gondry's film, about a Mexican-Parisian (Gael García Bernal) who can't decipher dreams from reality, is more visual and somewhat less cerebral than its Kaufman/Gondry/Jonze precursors. But it's still a helluva trip: The most fun comes in trying to decipher those worlds yourself. And you have to give it up for Bernal: Most actors in his position would have already starred in a Fast and the Furious sequel by now, but instead this muchacho continues to seek out one edgy role after another. Trabajo bueno, Gael.
Fun Fact: Michel Gondry's imagination once wandered into the ladies room by accident.
Other New Releases (Feb. 6, 2007)
Disclaimer: Never trust fun facts.