Flags of Our Fathers

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg
  • Writers: James Bradley, Ron Powers, William Broyles Jr, Paul Haggis
  • Genres: Action, Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford, Neal McDonough, Barry Pepper, Robert Patrick, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, John Benjamin Hickey, John Slattery

The story focuses on seven US Marines of the 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, Sgt. Mike Strank, Pfc. Rene Gagnon, Pfc. Ira Hayes, Cpl. Harlon Block, Pfc. Franklin Sousley, Sgt. Hank Hansen, and Pfc. Ralph Ignatowski, as well as their Navy Corpsman, PhM2. John “Doc” Bradley.

In December 1944, U.S. Marines train at Camp Tarawa, Hawaii. They train by climbing a large mountain and getting in Higgins boats. The Marines then set sail across the Pacific, and it is revealed that they are headed to the small island of Iwo Jima, located less than 700 miles from the Japanese mainland. As Captain Severance puts it, they will be fighting on Japanese soil, and will expect tough resistance. A few days later, the armada arrives off the coast of Iwo Jima and the ships of the US Navy open fire on suspected Japanese positions. On the night before the landings, Mike is put in charge of second platoon.

The next day, February 19, 1945, the Marines hit the beach in landing craft and meet no resistance. Ralph, aka “Iggy”, suspects that the Navy killed all the Japanese defenders, as do most of the Marines. After several tense minutes the Marines advance forward and the Japanese open fire. The battle is extremely intense, and the Marines take heavy casualties. Japanese heavy artillery opens fire upon the Marines on shore, as well as the Navy ships. After several attempts, Second Platoon takes out a Japanese pillbox which was pinning them down. They advance forward, as do many other Marines. The battle begins to calm down and the beachheads are secure. Two days later the Marines attack Mount Suribachi under a rain of Japanese artillery and machine gun fire, as the Navy bombards the mountain. It is here that Doc saves the lives of several Marines under fire which later earns him the Navy Cross. Finally, the mountain is secure. For the next four nights, the Marines take cover in foxholes as Japanese soldiers charge through the mist.

In September the war ends and Doc, Rene and Ira go home. Ira tries to move on but is never able to escape his unwanted fame. One day in 1952 after being released from jail, he hitchhikes over 1,300 miles to Texas to see Harlon Block’s family. He tells Ed Block, Harlon’s father that Harlon was indeed at the base of the flag in the famous photograph. In 1954, the USMC War Memorial is dedicated and the three flag raisers see each one last time. In 1955 Ira dies of exposure after a night of drinking. That same year Doc drove to a town where Iggy’s mom lived and told her how Iggy died, though it is implied that he lied. Rene has little success as the business offers he received on the bond drive are no longer offered to him. He spends the rest of his life as a high school janitor, dying in 1979. Doc is the only successful one. He buys the funeral home he worked at before the war and runs it for the rest of his life. In 1995, as he is on his death bed, he tells his son James how after the flag raising Captain Severance took the men swimming. He then dies peacefully. In a final flashback to 1945, the men swim in the ocean after raising the flags.

Invictus

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Lori McCreary, Robert Lorenz, Mace Neufeld
  • Writers: Screenplay, Anthony Peckham, Book, John Carlin
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon

A look at Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) from the fall of apartheid. The story is about Mandela’s release from prison, his election as President of South Africa and his attempts to use the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a vehicle to bring his people together, after the fall of apartheid. Led by their captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), the South African team wins the tournament, upsetting the favourites New Zealand 15–12 in the final.

Mystic River

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Judie G Hoyt
  • Writers: Novel, Dennis Lehane, Screenplay, Brian Helgeland
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney

The film opens with three boys, Sean Devine, Jimmy Markum, and Dave Boyle, playing hockey in the street. While playing, the boys find a section of sidewalk concrete that is still drying. Jimmy impulsively writes his name in the cement and Sean follows. Dave begins to write his name in the cement, but a car pulls up and a man who pretends to be a plainclothes police officer gets out, scolds the three boys, and tells Dave to get in the car. After a second man in the front passenger seat (who appears to be a priest) turns and smiles at the boy, Dave looks out the back window to see Jimmy and Sean staring back at him as the car moves away. Hearing that Dave was taken away by a police officer, the parents of Jimmy and Sean agree that something is wrong and begin to look for him.

The film then cuts to Dave in the basement of the two child molesters who took him and then to Dave running away from the house through a forest.

Twenty-five years later, the boys are now grown and still living in Boston. Jimmy (Sean Penn) is an ex-con running a neighborhood store, while Dave (Tim Robbins) is a blue-collar worker, still haunted by his abduction. The two men are still neighbors and related by marriage. Jimmy’s 19 year old daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) is secretly dating Brendan Harris (Thomas Guiry), a boy Jimmy despises. She and Brendan are planning on eloping to marry in Las Vegas.

The film ends with the camera zooming towards Mystic River and fades to black.

Gran Torino

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Bill Gerber, Robert Lorenz
  • Writers: Screenplay, Nick Schenk, Story, Dave Johannson, Nick Schenk
  • Genres: Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a retired Polish American Ford automobile assembly line worker and Korean War veteran, haunted by memories of that conflict, lives with his Labrador Retriever Daisy in a changing Highland Park, Michigan neighborhood which is dominated by immigrants. At the start of the movie, Walt is attending his wife’s funeral, bristling at the shallow eulogy of young Father Janovich (Christopher Carley). Similarly, he has little patience with his two sons, Mitch (Brian Haley) and Steve (Brian Howe), and their families, who show little regard for Walt’s grief or the memory of their dead mother. Throughout the movie Walt views his relatives as rude, spoiled and self-absorbed, always avoiding him unless it is in their own interest to pay him some attention. Walt’s sons see him as “always disappointed” with them and their families, unaware of their own obnoxiousness.

Walt’s teenage Hmong neighbors, a shy Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) and his feisty sister Sue (Ahney Her), live with their widowed mother and grandmother. When a Hispanic gang confronts Thao, the Hmong gang, led by Thao’s older cousin Spider (Doua Moua), helps Thao by frightening the Hispanic gang and forcing them to flee. The Hmong gang, at that point, tries to persuade Thao to join them. Thao’s initiation is to steal Walt’s prized car, a 1972 Gran Torino Sport. Walt interrupts the robbery, pointing a rifle in Thao’s face and forcing him to flee. After a few days, Spider and his gang return. With Sue at his side, Thao manages to verbally confront them to no avail. The gang drags Thao off his porch in an attempt to assault him. His family tries desperately to fend off Spider and his cohorts. The conflict ends when Walt threatens the gang members with his M1 Garand rifle and orders them to get off his lawn. They leave the neighborhood, telling Walt to watch his back.

A funeral service is held for Walt with Father Janovich delivering a memorable eulogy of Walt. Thao and his family attend the funeral opposite Walt’s large extended family. In his will, Walt leaves his house to the church, and his Gran Torino to Thao, much to the disappointment and puzzlement of his family. In the final scene, Thao is driving the Gran Torino up Lake Shore Road with Daisy next to him.

Changeling

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Robert Lorenz
  • Writers: J Michael Straczynski
  • Genres: Drama, History, Mystery
  • Actors: Angelina Jolie, Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich, Jason Butler Harner, Colm Feore, Michael Kelly, Amy Ryan

In 1928 Los Angeles, single mother Christine Collins (Jolie) returns home to discover her nine-year-old son, Walter (Griffith), is missing. Reverend Gustav Briegleb (Malkovich) publicizes Christine’s plight and rails against the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for its incompetence, corruption and the extrajudicial punishment meted out by its “Gun Squad”, led by Chief James E. Davis (Feore). Several months after Walter’s disappearance, the LAPD tells Christine that he has been found alive. Believing the positive publicity will negate recent criticism of the department, the LAPD organizes a public reunion. Although “Walter” (Conti) claims he is Christine’s son, she says he is not. Captain J. J. Jones (Donovan), the head of the LAPD’s Juvenile Division, insists the boy is Walter and pressures Christine into taking him home “on a trial basis”.

After Christine confronts Jones with physical discrepancies between “Walter” and her son, Jones arranges for a medical doctor to visit her. He tells Christine that “Walter” is shorter than before his disappearance because trauma has shrunk his spine, and that the man who took Walter had him circumcised. A newspaper prints a story that implies Christine is an unfit mother; Briegleb tells Christine it was planted by police to discredit her. Walter’s teacher and dentist give Christine signed letters confirming “Walter” is an impostor. Christine tells her story to the press; as a result, Jones sends her to Los Angeles County Hospital’s “psychopathic ward”. She befriends inmate Carol Dexter (Ryan), who tells Christine she is one of several women who were sent there for challenging police authority. Dr. Steele (O’Hare) deems Christine delusional and forces her to take mood-regulating pills. Steele says he will release Christine if she admits she was mistaken about “Walter”; she refuses.

On the day of the city council’s hearing into the case, Christine and Briegleb arrive at Los Angeles City Hall, where they encounter thousands of protesters who are demanding answers from the city. The hearing is intercut with scenes from Northcott’s trial. The council concludes that Jones and Davis should be removed from duty, and that extrajudicial internments by police must be reviewed. Northcott’s jury finds him guilty of murder and the judge sentences him to death by hanging. Two years later, Christine has not given up her search for Walter. Northcott sends her a message saying he is willing to admit to killing Walter on condition that Christine meets him before his execution. She visits Northcott, but he refuses to tell her if he killed her son. Northcott is executed the next day. In 1935, David Clay—one of the boys assumed to have been killed—is found alive. He reveals that one of the boys with whom he was imprisoned was Walter. David, Walter and another boy escaped, but were separated. David does not know whether Walter was recaptured, giving Christine hope he is alive.

Letters from Iwo Jima

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg
  • Writers: Screenplay, Iris Yamashita, Story, Iris Yamashita, Paul Haggis, Book, Tadamichi Kuribayashi, Tsuyuko Yoshido
  • Genres: Drama, History, War
  • Actors: Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase

In the present day, Japanese archaeologists explore tunnels on Iwo Jima. They find something in the dirt and the scene changes to Iwo Jima in 1944. Private First Class Saigo, a baker conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army, and his platoon are grudgingly digging beach trenches on the island. Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi arrives to take command of the garrison and immediately begins an inspection of the island defenses. He saves Saigo and his friend Kashiwara from a beating for having uttered ‘unpatriotic speeches’ and orders the men to stop digging trenches on the beach and begin tunnelling defenses into Mount Suribachi.

Later, Lieutenant Colonel Baron Takeichi Nishi, a famous Olympic gold medalist show jumper, joins Kuribayashi for dinner. They discuss the grim prospect of no naval support and the fanaticism their fellow officers would show. Kuribayashi evacuates the civilian population of Iwo Jima to mainland Japan. He clashes with some of his senior officers, who do not agree with his strategy of defending inland instead of the beaches; Kuribayashi believes the Americans will take the beaches quickly, and only the mountain defenses will have a better chance for holding out against the enemy.

Poor nutrition and unsanitary conditions take their toll on the garrison; many die of dysentery, including Kashiwara. The Japanese troops begin using the caves as barracks. Kashiwara’s replacement, a young soldier named Superior Private Shimizu, arrives for duty on the island. Saigo and his friends suspect that Shimizu is a spy sent from Kempeitai to report on disloyal soldiers. The first American aerial bombings occur shortly after, causing significant casualties. After the raid, Saigo is sickened when he sees the corpse of a friend, still sitting upright. Another casualty was Jupiter, Baron Nishi’s horse, which was also killed by a bomb. The raid forces the Japanese to dig deeper into the volcanic island. The battle for Iwo Jima begins.

The scene shifts back to the Japanese archaeologists who uncover the bag of letters written by Japanese soldiers on the island, never sent, that Saigo buried in 1945. As the letters fall from the bag, the voices of the fallen Japanese soldiers are heard reading from them.