“Letters from Iwo Jima” is building up steam. The second of Clint Eastwood’s two WWII sagas has received more accolades in the U.S., being chosen as the top movie of 2006 by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association on Sunday, and ranked by the American Film Institute in their top 10 movies for the year. Like its companion piece “Flags of Our Fathers” it is a Hollywood project, but all the dialog is in Japanese. While this was thought to make it a rank outsider for any major awards, the talk about it competing for Academy Awards on February 25 is now building. Eastwood was in New York Sunday for a screening of “Letters…” followed by a reception at the Time Warner Center. Also there basking in the praise were star Watanabe Ken (47), his wife, actress Minami Kaho (42), and co-star Ihara Tsuyoshi (43). The movie opens in the U.S. on December 20, but it has already made a strong start at the box office here. It pulled in over ¥200 million on its opening day on Saturday and is expected to reach ¥5 billion, while “Flags…” totalled about ¥1.5 billion.
• On Sunday, actor Maeda Kouyou (38) ran the Honolulu Marathon and then limped to his wedding with comedienne Unabara Tomoko (34). Maeda hurt his leg during the 42.195km race but reached the finish line in seven and a half hours. Unabara was in tears as he crossed the line. The couple registered their marriage in Japan in August. Also running the race, for the seventh year in a row, was model Hasegawa Rie. She was disappointed to be a bit over her personal best time of three hours fifteen minutes.