"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dinner & DVD - Flags of Our Fathers

Served over noodles, this effortless entree is great for weeknight meals.

Creamy Tomato Chicken

Boneless skinless chicken breasts halves
EVOO (olive oil)
1 can (14 1/2 oz) Italian diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Mozzarella cheese slices
Hot cooked noodles

In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil over medium heat until juices run clear. Remove and keep warm. Combine the tomatoes, soup and cinnamon; add to the skillet. Cook and stir until heated through. Return chicken to the skillet; top with cheese. Cover and heat until the cheese is melted. Server over noodles.

Featured Attraction: Flags of Our Fathers

Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" tells the stories that were never told in a film before, or anywhere all that much. That picture on Iwo Jima of the flag raising (the second flag raising) was taken out of context. The people raising the flag were used as poster-boys for war bonds, they didn't want to be exploited and turned into nation-wide icons. They didn't want to be called 'heroes.'

The film is narrated by old soldiers and later by the son of one of the flag-raisers. The men went on the island and fought to survive in a vicious battle. After the battle settles for a second, they put up a flag to raise spirits, that flag is later taken down (because a politician wanted it) and replaced, this is the one that is photographed.

The photograph, of course, has a huge affect on the public. The different raisers of the different flags are confused and the people in the photo aren't who the public think, but the men agree to go on tour even though they hate being in the public eye. Why do they go? To raise morale and sell war bonds, they can't win the war without money.

The three of them face difficulties along the way especially the Native American, Ira Hayes, who deals with racism.There are frequent flashbacks to the war. The war violence is very, very graphic. Some of the goriest sequences this side of "Saving Private Ryan." Also like "Saving Private Ryan," the fight scenes aren't overly dramatic, there is no slow-motion and no theatrics. The battles are realistic, there is confusion, and anyone can be killed at any second.

The acting is admirable all around: Ryan Phillipe (John "Doc" Bradley) creates a honourable figure persevering throughout war time while his friends fall away. Jesse Bradford (Rene Gagon) copes best after the war but fame is short-lived. And Adam Beach (Ira Hayes) is a man tormented by the effect of war; a man who has lost his personal identity. He struggles with the concept of "we are what we do".

Eastwood seems to age like fine wine. He has been making the best films of his career lately and and he can also direct wide-scale war action. In this film he stresses how there are no such things as 'heroes.' The men who marched around the country in the photograph weren't proud of the horrifying things they saw and did, they hated being called heroic. Like the film says, 'heroes' are things we make up to make sense of things, to give us hope, but the truth is that they only exist in comic books and movies.

"Flags of Our Fathers" is a moving, stirring and, above all, clear-eyed tribute to those who serve.

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