“Last Flag Flying” tells the story of three Vietnam War veterans (Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and Laurence Fishburne) who reunite in 2003 under tragic circumstances. It premiered on September 28 as the opening night film at the 2017 New York Film Festival and will be released to general audiences on November 3. And it comes at a time when the meaning of patriotism and the American flag are at the forefront of the national conversation with Donald Trump recently condemned athletes who take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
Many who criticize such protests do so in the name of those who serve in the armed forces, perhaps like those portrayed in the film. But director Richard Linklater was quick to distance the film from that debate when he spoke to press and industry the afternoon before the premiere (watch above). “We’re so far from the ridiculousness of the conversation … who owns the flag, who gets to say what it means, and who’s disrespecting it,” Linklater explained. And Fishburne agreed, adding, “We’re not fitting into that [controversy].”
Co-star J. Quinton Johnson expanded on that: “I think it’s interesting when you’re creating art, telling a story, and then the layers that get imposed on the thing that we did — a few weeks in Pittsburgh — that’s an interesting phenomenon,” Johnson said. “That has nothing to do with what we did. It just is the way it is. Different groups of people — veterans, millennials, people who have family members who have served, different socioeconomic backgrounds — have different opinions and ideals and takeaways from this film because of what’s going on in our current climate.”
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