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Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” earns tears at NYFF

This morning, audiences at the 2017 New York Film Festival were the first to see Richard Linklater’s latest outing, the road trip dramedy Last Flag Flying. It’s the Opening Night Selection of the fest, officially kicking it off. Luckily for all of us in attendance, it’s also a terrific work, signaling not just another Academy Award contender, but another great film for the year. Plus, it honors the legacy of the flick that came before it (more on that in a moment). Amazon Studios continues to pick excellent bits of cinema to promote. This could very well end up just as successful as Manchester by the Sea was for them last year.

The film is a sequel to The Last Detail, though familiarity with that picture is hardly required. Out of contact with each other for three decades, a trio of the Vietnam War veterans are brought back together. Former Navy Corpsman Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-unites with his two old buddies, former Marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and now Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne). The purpose is not nostalgia though, but to bury Larry’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War during the start of that new unpopular war. Each man has something to deal with, either in the present or the past, but find that time spent together now is much different than when they were young and dumb during Vietnam. Linklater co-writes with author of the novel Darryl Ponicsan and directs here. Also making up the cast are J. Quinton Johnson, Cicely Tyson, Yul Vazquez, Graham Wolfe, and more. Shane F. Kelly handles the cinematography, while Graham Reynolds composed the score.