Last Flag Flying Screen 15 articles

Last Flag Flying


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  • Linklater’s thoroughly worked through his influences to make them serve him without being distractingly quote-y: you’d never guess how many hours he’d spent studying Akerman and Benning, though the Bresson overhead object shots are recognizable (for hands and keys, substitute Sal’s empty pizza boxes)... I’ll concede: A normal Linklater hang-out movie is mapped on top of a sober Iraq drama, and the mixture doesn’t mesh.

  • Richard Linklater's spiritual sequel to Hal Ashby's great navy-men-gone-wild dramedy The Last Detail (1973) is an affable mediocrity that plays like a karaoke cover version of the earlier film... Very little here seems inhabited, merely acted—life as a perpetually pedestrian rehearsal.

  • The problems I have with “Last Flag Flying” stem from its script, which was adapted by Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan from a novel by the latter... While the film has no shortage of Linklater’s usual filmmaking smarts, the characters are clichés, the story plodding and predictable, and the military/male-bonding element full of the wrong kind of easy sentimentality.

  • The movie asks whether Americans unable to share a country or a conviction can at least agree to share a symbol (whether it's the Stars and Stripes or an unmerited military funeral), and even Linklater and Ponicsan seem divided and uncertain on the question. This has its moments, but it ends, like its characters, in sentimental confusion.

  • The final moments suggest that it’s meant as a tribute to simple people — to good, plain folks who do as they’re told, whose interactions are dictated by what is deemed appropriate by the powers that be, and who don’t steer far from the accepted path of being. That’s the kind of philosophical question that has animated plenty of Linklater efforts in the past. But Last Flag Flying merely hints at the idea without engaging with it, bracketing a couple of stirring scenes with a lot of wan filler.

  • To sink deep into the sound of people talking is one of the great pleasures of a Richard Linklater film. Yet dialogue is the very thing that hobbles Linklater’s latest, Last Flag Flying. Scene by scene, the movie explains, rather than reveals, itself. It almost talks itself into a hole it can’t quite climb out of.

  • The fluency with which Linklater renders companionship proves crucial to the film’s impact... Where other filmmakers might have reduced Last Flag Flying to didactic, Bush-era talking points, Linklater and co-screenwriter Ponicsan convey these ideas through nuanced characters, fostering an organic camaraderie that belies the depth of their shared history.

  • If early dialogue scenes appear a bit leaden, they’re nonetheless effective in creating the vibe of a group of men struggling to discover what remains of their common ground, and the film overcomes its ubiquitous, baggy iconography by painstakingly enacting how difficult it is for these men to confront their pasts and challenge their preconceptions about God, country, and personal ideals.

  • It’s simultaneously a homefront war drama (modestly scored with plangent piano and guitar accents), buddy comedy, and road movie, including jaunts on Amtrak trains, a Peter Pan bus, and a U-Haul. These confined spaces means there’s a surfeit of quality time spent with the threesome, which is a pleasure in the case of Carell and the amusingly supercilious and semi-righteous Fishburne, though one’s tolerance for Cranston’s salty old cuss Sal is tested.

  • The writing is the star here. As a piece of filmmaking Last Flag Flying is not the kind of Linklater movie that makes a case for the sublime intelligence of his deceptively plain, naturalistic style. More than usual with Linklater, what you see, in this case, is basically all you get. And what you get is above all a bevy of thorough, intelligent performances.

  • Though it won't rank among his best, this antic, heartfelt dramedy about the many wounds of war handily shows off the director's abiding delight in illuminating character through banter; it simultaneously beams a light into critical American moments past and present . . . I could have done without the gloppy finale that drives the point home. But in Linklater as in life, other people . . . always have the capacity to surprise us. More simply put, never underestimate a blowhard.

  • Perhaps the trio’s personalities are too limited (the crank, the sadsack, Rev. Jekyll), but the actors are terrific, with Carrel doing his finest dramatic work as the meek Larry. But Linklater, for all his gifts in directing ruminative, digressive gab, isn’t exactly the king of dramatic structure. There are clumsy, didactic, and sentimental moments scattered through the film . . . But his sensibility—sympathetic, politically skeptical—strikes through at simple, important truths.

  • As Last Flag Flying eases into being a road-trip film (a distinctly American genre I didn’t realize I missed so much until I was riding sidecar), Linklater, always better at time-constrained narratives, hits his stride, the guys’ camaraderie making Cranston’s shenanigans almost palatable. The film follows a familiar template, but the wounds it traces are undeniable.

  • It reminds me of Neil Young's 1990 album Ragged Glory. It's a rough, but casual, meditation on American themes, made with relaxed, subtle mastery. If the film feels a bit underwhelming on first encounter, I suspect it will gain from repeat viewings—it's full of subtle characterizations and charming grace notes, and these things can become more resonant once they're more familiar.

  • Last Flag Flying arrives at a moment when Americans are seeking to confront our violent and checkered history while questioning the way that history has been presented for too long. This movie’s strength lies in its gentleness just as its wisdom lies in its willingness to get extravagantly silly. Richard Linklater is one of the best directors going, and Last Flag Flying shows his talents in the full flower of their maturity.

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