That's unfair. I know it is. Clint's film is decent, humane and gripping and Winterbottom's film is good-natured and funny (and itself acknowledges the Fellini connection by using bits of Nino Rota's wonderful score) but take away the novelty of a celebrity American director adopting the Japanese point of view and the novelty of a British director playing at being post-modern and Pictures From Iwo Jima is a standard issue war movie and A Cock and Bull Story is just an amiable bit of mucking around that entirely lacks the drive and insight of Fellini's masterpiece.
War is hell and wastes the lives of young men. Check. Film people are laughably self-absorbed. Check.
Camille Paglia has a recent article mourning Bergman and Antonioni, in which she says the only classic movies to have appeared since the 60s are the Godfather and Star Wars. Well, that's extreme to the point of battiness- or is it? I scan my DVD collection and- damn it- provided you push the cut-off point forward by a decade- she's right! Almost all the movies that took risks, that showed us new things, that matter in the history of the medium were made before 1980.
It shouldn't surprise us. How long did the Italian High Renaissance last ? A couple of generations. The great age of the novel? A century or so. Classical music? Bach to Shostakovitch, just over two hundred years. Art forms become worked to death. The great masters do their thing and say their say and there's nothing left for the following generations to do except imitate and work variations.
It's not just money that dictates Hollywood's current plague of remakes and sequels, it's creative exhaustion.