Last Flag Flying

The Original BJ
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Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Re: Last Flag Flying

Postby The Original BJ » Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:16 pm

Yeah, this one is a non-starter. I liked the amiable vibe between the three leads, but the whole movie just sits there waiting for a plot to take off that never comes, filling the space instead with ho-hum conversation that feels recycled from countless other movies about war vets. Only the pedigree in front of and behind the camera is getting this plum festival placements and an award campaign.

Mister Tee
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Location: NYC

Re: Last Flag Flying

Postby Mister Tee » Thu Sep 28, 2017 3:35 pm

And the trades, equally unenthusiastic. If this hadn't been widely anticipated, it probably wouldn't even rate a thread.

So, it doesn't much matter what category Cranston placed himself in. ... 202574087/ ... 17-1043929

Tenured Laureate
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Last Flag Flying

Postby Sabin » Thu Sep 28, 2017 2:15 pm

Looks like my wariness of the trailer was right. First scattered Jeffrey Wells thoughts...

Directed and co-written by Richard Linklater, Last Flag Flying (Amazon / Lionsgate, 11.3) is just a moderately passable older-guy road movie — a doleful, episode-by-episode thing about three ex-servicemen and former buddies — Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell), Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) — assessing their lives and the world around them as they escort the casket of Shepherd’s soldier son, recently killed in Iraq, from Norfolk, Virginia to Portsmouth, Maine.

...The film mopes along in a resigned, overcast-skies sort of way, and after about 30 or 40 minutes you start saying to yourself, “Jesus, this thing is going to stay on this level all the way through to the end, and I’m stuck with it.”...There are two performances that merit special praise — J. Quinton Johnson‘s as a young Marine escort, disciplined but observant, who travels with the trio to Portsmouth, and Deanna-Reed Foster‘s as Mueller’s compassionate wife....I know I’m supposed to say that Cicely Tyson‘s walk-on part as the mother of a deceased Vietnam vet rocked my realm, but it didn’t. Her brief performance felt real and rooted but mostly registered as a “good enough but calm down” thing.

Here’s what I wrote to a critic friend the day after seeing Last Flag Flying: ...“My instinct is not to dismiss this too quickly or abruptly. Sometimes less can be deceptively more, I’m thinking, and so perhaps I should give this meandering little film the benefit of the doubt by thinking it through a bit longer. But I can’t find anything beneath what my initial impressions were, which is that there just isn’t much here. I kept waiting for something truly intriguing, significant, jarring or emotionally moving to happen, but nothing ever did. It’s just a series of modest little road-trip episodes. ... The scene that pops the most, I suppose, is the airplane hanger scene when Carell witnesses his son’s dead and disfigured body and learns the truth about what really caused his death. I started to feel hopeful after this, but the film just settled back into a kind of lazy sluggishness after this, and nothing really happened. ..."

Then Guardian... ... -linklater

Last Flag Flying review – Richard Linklater's road trip drama is an unrewarding slog
2 / 5 stars

A trio of talented actors – Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne – fail to bring a disappointingly turgid tale alive from the Oscar-nominated director

It’s really quite puzzling to try to imagine what Richard Linklater, the director who spent 12 years making the intricate coming-of-age saga Boyhood, would see in well-meaning but entirely forgettable drama Last Flag Flying. It’s a film of disappointing anonymity, a half-baked TV movie masquerading as Oscarbait, a curious misstep for the Oscar-nominated indie auteur.

The film is a sequel of sorts to Hal Ashby’s 1973 film The Last Detail, which followed the exploits of three naval officers, including a young Jack Nicholson, and this too is based on a book by Darryl Ponicsan. It’s 2003, and the three men of the original are no longer in contact, scattered across the US, yet they’re brought together by a tragic event. Larry, AKA Doc (Steve Carell), has received news that his son, also in the military, has been killed overseas. He tracks down his old friends Sal (Bryan Cranston) and Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) and requests their company as he takes the body back to his home state to be buried. And so a road trip takes place as the estranged men reminisce and reflect while looking forward to what might be coming next for them all.

There’s something conceptually intriguing about an acclaimed film-maker following up on something made over 40 years earlier by another acclaimed film-maker. Linklater has a clear fondness for Ashby’s original and there’s an anti-war sentiment that provides a strong through-line between eras: from Vietnam through to Iraq. The script, from Ponicsan and Linklater, toys with the intriguing concept of men who believe in the institution but take issue with the government in control of it but any profundity is lost in half-speak, surrounded by hackneyed, stagey dialogue and unfunny comedy.

Linklater’s film has elements of a Last Vegas/Going in Style-esque comedy about older men behaving badly, mostly whenever Cranston’s heavy-drinking bar owner is on screen, but instead, the film settles into a pedestrian and often mawkish groove, events purely functional, conflict or drama never really arriving. There’s a vague and hammy attempt to create an antagonist, in the shape of a cartoonish colonel played by Yul Vazquez, but it’s mostly plain sailing despite the tragedy at the film’s core.

This would matter less if the characters and their interplay sparked but the film remains at a flatline throughout. There’s solid work from Carell who gives a nicely understated turn, Fishburne offers reliable support and there’s a promising performance from relative newcomer J Quinton Johnson as the group’s military escort. But Cranston, who Linklater clearly sees as the film’s crowd-pleasing ace, is exaggerated and increasingly tiresome, his quips failing to land ad nauseam. Linklater has shown, especially with his Before trilogy, that he can both write and direct dynamics that feel naturalistic and authentic but such qualities are sorely lacking here. We don’t fully buy into the connection between these men and as a result, we care little about what happens to them. Nothing here feels lived in or real, it’s mere construct.

Film-makers have struggled to capture the war on terror on the big screen and audiences have similarly struggled to show up (the gung-ho simplicity of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper proving a rare exception). There’s little here to suggest that Linklater’s film will fare any better. If you want to see a film about a military retiree struggling to come to terms with the death of his son while dealing with his mixed feelings towards the institution then rewatch Paul Haggis’s immensely powerful In the Valley of Elah instead ugh. Last Flag Flying barely gets off the ground.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

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