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A review of the movie snow falling on cedars

Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and her friend, critics of the jury system and of lawyers' tactics were quick to pounce on the verdict. Given the racial makeup of the jury and the defense team's alleged playing of the race card, cynics and detractors in general were quick to say that the decision was based not on the evidence but on the willingness of minority jurors to free an African-American simply because of his race.

What we all know, though, is that the situation has almost always been the reverse: During this film-packed Christmas period, moviegoers have been treated to a story depicting a flagrant case of such injustice by taking in Universal Studios' "The Hurricane," in which Denzel Washington plays a prizefighter unjustly found guilty of a murder and warehoused for a couple of decades because of racial prejudice.

A review of the movie snow falling on cedars

High-school students are still assigned "To Kill a Mockingbird" in sophomore English class, Harper Lee's powerful tale of a Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape.

Kids lucky enough to catch a revival of Robert Mulligan's 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck and introducing Robert Duvall could get by without reading the book. Using flashbacks to a greater extent than he did in that 1996 film--in fact employing flashbacks within flashbacks, overlapping dialogue, and a great emphasis on ambiance and mood--Hicks is not as successful in translating this hugely successful novel for a movie audience.

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Pushing James Newton Howard's moody score to the limit while zigzagging back and forth to events in the lives of a newspaper reporter, his Japanese love interest, a man accused of murdering his best friend, and groups of Japanese forcibly evacuated to wartime interment camps, Hicks has virtually abandoned all aspects of linear storytelling to the service of fancy camera work.

Though he does this in a far more skillful way than a young film student, he nonetheless overemphasizes technique, thus blurring the tale's coherence and leaving the audience flustered.

  1. Hawke once again proves to be a listless, stolid leading man, with little energy and nothing going on behind his eyes. A more straightforward telling of this story would have served us better.
  2. Twenty-nine year old Ethan Hawke, so dynamic in the film "The Eighth Day," doesn't get a chance to do much other than look glum and passive, with many of the love scenes between him and Youki Kudoh played by a younger version of his character Reeve Carney , but Youki Kudoh turns in a fine performance as the conflicted love object ordered by her mother--like the Rebeka Johnson character, Sylvia, in "Liberty Heights" to marry her own kind. This stance is not without irony, as Kabuo a decorated war veteran of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team , experienced prejudice because of his ancestry, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
  3. This is cold country, beautiful country and the dramas that take place within it have been faithfully recreated by director Scott Hicks, who worked with Oscar-winning Ron Bass on the screenplay. Ishmael, unable to stop thinking about Hatsue.
  4. The company fastidiously recreate the period and atmosphere of a Pacific Northwest where seamen and farmers of Scandinavian and Japanese descent vie to wrest a living. And families could also talk about the Japanese internment, one of the most shameful episodes in this country's history, and about the half-century effort it took to get an apology and a small payment for damages.
  5. The reporter as observer is a time-honoured device, but in his secretive pursuit of truth, Ishmael drifts through this film like an angry sleepwalker, not just literally and spiritually wounded, but also burdened with a heavy load of flashback sequences ambitiously used to reveal a history of racism, greed and shame on the island.

Though some scenes caught by cinematographer Robert Richardson of snow falling on the titled cedars in the Pacific Northwest are stunning--much like images captured in movies like "The Sweet Hereafter" and "The Ice Storm"--they cannot compensate for the oblique narration of a compelling tale, one which highlights the nature of American prejudice, the potential for inequity in our criminal justice system, the value of courageous journalism, and the heartbreak of a thwarted love affair.

Despite Miyamoto's service for his country he is nonetheless hated by segments of the community as are other Japanese living there, as bitter memories of the war die slowly. A journalist covering the trial, Ishmael Chambers Ethan Hawkeis seated in the balcony, but he is not an impartial spectator.

Snow Falling On Cedars Review

He is torn between the liberal-humanist ideas of his journalist father, Arthur Sam Shepardand the enmity he bears for having lost an arm during the war and, perhaps more important, having lost his girl friend, Hatsue Miyamoto Youki Kudohnow married to the defendant.

A more straightforward telling of this story would have served us better.

Parents say

We did not need to wait until the final segments of the movie to learn that Ishmael lost an arm while fighting, nor does Hicks serve us well by showing the battle scene in such a minimalist style that we can scarcely appreciate that Ishmael was in the midst of raging combat.

Nor can we be sure on which front Ishmael was fighting. While flashbacks are an appropriate device in a visual art like the cinema--as well as in literature--we are treated to an arbitrary repetition of the mechanism as Hicks takes us now to Ishmael and Hatsue expressing teen love, then back to the more recent past, then once again to their early childhood, back again to the present day.

Hicks does a better job when he illustrates what the U.

Snow Falling On Cedars Review

Alan Parker, who dazzled us just this month with "Angela's Ashes," reminded us of one of our country's great injustices in his 1990 film "Come See The Paradise," about a hotheaded union organizer who is separated from his Japanese-American wife after Pearl Harbor when she and her family are sent to such a camp.

Twenty-nine year old Ethan Hawke, so dynamic in the film "The Eighth Day," doesn't get a chance to do much other than look glum and passive, with many of the love scenes between him and Youki Kudoh played by a younger version of his character Reeve Carneybut Youki Kudoh turns in a fine performance as the conflicted love object ordered by her mother--like the Rebeka Johnson character, Sylvia, in "Liberty Heights" to marry her own kind.

Max von Sydow is the scene-stealer, though, as the defendant's gentle attorney Nels Gudmundsson, who tells the jury that since he is virtually looking death in the face, he can prize from long experience the need for justice. While all loose ends are ultimately tied up--Ishmael learning that he must hold on to his father's principles while letting go of his great love--"Snow Falling on Cedars" falls victim to overly pretentious film technique.

Snow Falling on Cedars