For many, the jury is still out on Paul Haggis. The erstwhile television scribe turned Oscar-winner has certainly built an impressive resume in a short time, including partial or full screenwriting credit on four of the most acclaimed studio movies of recent years: Clint Eastwood’s magnificent three-film run of Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers (okay…eh…), and Letters from Iwo Jima, plus the genuinely awesome Bond flick Casino Royale. But Haggis’s colossally stupid directorial debut Crash, despite its Best Picture victory, hardly delivered on the promise suggested by his other successes–it’s difficult to imagine the same person being involved in Eastwood’s searing boxing drama and that pompous race screed on any level, much less in a major authorial role. Muddying the waters and splitting the difference (to mix my metaphors–hey, if Haggis can do it, so can I) is his directorial follow-up, In the Valley of Elah, a mostly inoffensive detective film that’s also a confused prestige picture about American soldiers fighting in Iraq.
Click here to read Chris Wisniewski’s review of Paul Haggis’s In the Valley of Elah.