Roger Willie

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Director John Woo, stars Christian Slater and Roger Willie discuss the emotion and authenticity of 'Windtalkers'

"Do you want me to smile?" Navajo actor Roger Willie asks in a tone of voice that implies he'd rather not.

"I'm easy," I reply. "Do whatever feels right."

Willie isn't accustomed to this press tour thing. In San Francisco with co-star Christian Slater and director John Woo to talk about the World War II drama "Windtalkers," he seems to view posing for pictures as a necessary evil. It's just part of this weird Hollywood ride he's been on since being picked to play a Navajo code talker in the film.

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Windtalkers Review


Extraordinary
Action is John Woo's middle name. After directing frenetic flicks such as Mission: Impossible II, Face/Off, and Broken Arrow, I knew we would get enough bombs, blood and broken body parts to give his WWII drama Windtalkers an accurate feel. But the film is about more than good gore; it has tremendous heart, too.

During the war, the Japanese were masters at stealing and translating the codes used by U.S. troops to communicate messages to and from the front lines. There was a huge loss of life as a result of these interceptions. In response, the Marines recruited Navajos to act as code talkers, and used their intricate tribal language as a new, unbreakable code. Woo's Windtalkers is an intense and emotional look at the critical role the Navajos played in the United States' success in the war.

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Windtalkers Review


Weak

The Navajo code talkers who are the ostensive focus of the new John Woo World War II movie have so little to do with the story that calling the picture "Windtalkers" feels like a sham.

Sure it opens with a breathtaking shot of rock formations in the Arizona's Monument Valley, giving the film an immediate sense of place and spirituality. But it's essentially the same shot Woo used to open "Mission: Impossible 2," minus a rock-climbing Tom Cruise and plus a touch of reverent native flute music on the soundtrack.

Sure one of the main characters is a Navajo named Ben Yahzee (Adam Beach) who has a hard time fitting in with his Marine unit, which is teeming with countrified Southern bigots. And sure, once the Pacific island combat scenes get rolling Ben calls in a few air strikes using the never-broken Navajo language-based code that helped win the war.

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Adaptation Review


Excellent

Poking around in the mind of John Malkovich was a wonderfully weird, wildly conceptual experience in 1999's "Being John Malkovich," but the ingenious "Adaptation" is a testament to the fact that screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's head is an even more peculiar place.

Kaufman is the off-kilter mastermind behind both films, and while the former was a dark, cerebellum-warping, fictional funhouse ride, the latter began life simply as a commission to adapt Susan Orleans' novel "The Orchid Thief." What the project morphed into, however, is something far more bizarre because Kaufman's unbridled and bewildered efforts to turn the book into a movie began bleeding into the screenplay itself.

In the deft and innovative hands of "Malkovich" director Spike Jonze, three cross-pollinating narratives are stitched together in an extraordinary patchwork of idiosyncratic storytelling: First, the film follows the plot of "The Orchid Thief," which is, in part, about the misfiring conservation philosophies of a real Florida flower poacher named John Laroche (Chris Cooper), who took Orleans (Meryl Streep) into the Everglades on excursions to steal protected orchids that he then breeds to sell in his flower shop.

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Roger Willie

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Windtalkers Movie Review

Windtalkers Movie Review

Action is John Woo's middle name. After directing frenetic flicks such as Mission: Impossible...

Windtalkers Movie Review

Windtalkers Movie Review

The Navajo code talkers who are the ostensive focus of the new John Woo World...

Adaptation Movie Review

Adaptation Movie Review

Poking around in the mind of John Malkovich was a wonderfully weird, wildly conceptual experience...

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