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Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

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Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by Mazy on Fri Feb 14 2014, 04:24

Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

By Todd Gilchrist | January 29, 2014 | 160 views

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Movies about World War II like The Monuments Men fell out of fashion a long time ago, thanks in no small part to efforts like Saving Private Ryan that chronicle battle’s true horrors, if not also a considerable amount of Greatest Generation posturing. But even with Spielberg’s masterpiece in his rear view mirror, director and star George Clooney successfully finds both humanity and humor in the story of a platoon enlisted to rescue art from the Nazis during the final days of the war.

Clooney plays Frank Stokes, the leader of a small group of museum curators and art historians assembled by the U.S. government to join the front lines of the war in Europe and try to locate and retrieve some thousands of great works that were stolen by the Nazis. His team includes Americans James Granger (Matt Damon), Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and Walter Garfield (John Goodman), Frenchman Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), and Brit Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville).

Granger is sent to Paris to work with Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), who is as mistrustful of her ingratiating new American ally as the Nazis whose spoils she carefully documented. But soon after Stokes dispatches the rest of the platoon to different locations to search for reserves where the art might be hidden, he learns that the end of the war may work at cross purposes with their mission – if the Germans surrender, they might simultaneously destroy the priceless artwork they’ve collected. With the clock ticking down until the end of the war and few leads, Stokes and his team scramble across war-torn Europe in an effort to save the continent’s history from being destroyed forever.

While there’s no disputing the significance of the artwork that these men helped rescue, the legacy of war movies in the last two decades has admittedly rendered stories like these – and predecessors such as The Great Escape – somewhat obsolete, if not sort of glib. And particularly given Clooney’s success as a roguish charmer in ensemble comedies like the Ocean’s movies, it would have been easy for him to craft one of his own with WWII as the backdrop. But co-writing the script with longtime partner Grant Heslov, Clooney creates a story that starts off acknowledging that sort of brisk wartime-adventure tradition, then deepens into something warmer and more meaningful.

Observing that the men in his platoon are sort of only barely soldiers – several thrown into basic training largely for comedic purposes – the script underscores their initial detachment as peripheral participants in this great and terrible conflict. From the crosses being built in the background for makeshift graves to the buckets of gold fillings stolen from teeth to the repeated refrain that some former owner of a piece of art they’re searching for was killed, they quickly become aware that death is all around them. And like them, the audience soon realizes that this story is far from a toss-off celebration of art, or as the poster’s tagline reads, “the greatest art heist in history,” but a touching portrait of men searching for symbols of existence – of excellence – while life is being indiscriminately extinguished around them.

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Bonneville’s character enjoys a hero’s moment in the film that’s typically reserved for the climax or third act of a story like this, but its placement is symptomatic of Clooney and Heslov’s focus on the men and their lives, rather than the slick thrills of stealing art back from history’s greatest villains. Meanwhile, they pepper in other sequences of truly transcendent beauty — the best of which comes when Murray’s character hears a recording of his daughter singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” reverberating through a desolate, icy military encampment – that are deeply sensitive and profoundly affecting, without sacrificing light-touch humor that seems fully believable, and even essential to dealing with literal life or death situations.

Although Murray has comparatively little to do, the performances are consistently top-notch, especially Damon as the indefatigably patient soldier trying to prove his sincerity to Blanchett’s Claire, and Dujardin as a French soldier taking his chance to join a fight from which he was once rejected. Ironically, of course, the film would probably have worked almost as well, if perhaps more forgettable, if its stars simply played “themselves,” but the real work they commit to their roles elevates its impact, and underscores the earnestness and respect with which Clooney approaches his subject matter. But ultimately, The Monuments Men makes a welcome and superlative addition to the pantheon of war films, because it turns high-concept storytelling into a meaningful true-story tribute, drawing audiences in with monuments – the stars populating its A-list ensemble — and then truly making them care about the men whose very real efforts enabled their wattage to burn so brightly.

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Mazy
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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by it's me on Fri Feb 14 2014, 06:03

wow

The Monuments Men makes a welcome and superlative addition to the pantheon of war films, because it turns high-concept storytelling into a meaningful true-story tribute

 cheers cheers cheers Thumbs up! 

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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by Joanna on Fri Feb 14 2014, 19:16

From MSN UK......


Release date: February 14
Certificate: 12A

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville
Director: George Clooney

What’s the story?
A terrific true tale of heroism and art appreciation, The Monuments Men follows an eccentric squad of ageing academics during the dying days of World War 2.

Having robbed the world blind of virtually all of its art treasures, the Nazis are under orders to retreat to Germany with their ill-gotten gains. Either that, or destroy them. Determined to save centuries of culture from Hitler’s goons, the Monuments Men risk life and limb to pursue clues that might lead them to huge, hidden caches of treasured sculptures, portraits and more.


VIDEO: watch the trailer for The Monuments Men
What did we think?
The first thing that strikes you about this colourful movie is its glorious ensemble cast. Combining two of Ocean’s 11, George Clooney and Matt Damon, with a couple of cracking Wes Anderson regulars, Bill Murray and Bob Balaban, together with Coen Bros favourite John Goodman, The Artist’s Jean Dujardin, Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville and to cap it all, beautiful, brilliant Cate Blanchett, The Monuments Men bursts with Hollywood royalty and the best character actors in the business.

"An energetic concoction lashed together by a rousing orchestral score and plenty of heart"
Episodic in nature, the film skips from drama to humour to thrills and back again, an energetic concoction lashed together by a rousing orchestral score and plenty of heart. Well done director, producer and co-writer George Clooney for juggling so many elements and only occasionally dropping the ball.

Though there are times when the screenplay could have used a touch more polish, and certainly we’d have appreciated a pinch more characterisation, on the whole this is a pleasing wartime romp. Splendidly cast with award-worthy production design and a message, if you like that sort of thing, about respecting the past, it’s cheeky but sweet with a bit of a swagger and a serious side to boot.

Above all else, if you’re a Clooney fan, there’s much here to enjoy. It’s always fun to see him do his thing and as the leader of the gang he’s irrepressible.



Four stars
Verdict: What better day than Valentine’s to release this movie? Because we loved it!



Watch the red carpet report from The Monuments Men premiere

What Sky Movies thought

If you  were expecting George Clooney's fifth directorial effort to pan out something like a thinking man's Kelly's Heroes then you are going to be disappointed.

The story - based on that of Harvard art conservationist George Stout - is a good one and recounts the decision to send out a dedicated troop to rescue stolen European art treasures from Nazi flamethrowers after Hitler issues a bitter demand that no cultural assets shall remain.

Frank Stokes (Clooney in Cary Grant mode) is the chap charged with task...and sets about recruiting a bunch of art experts to locate the treasures and return them to their rightful owners.

" This is a perfectly amiable caper movie"
They include Damon's sensible paintings expert and for comedy effect architect Bill Murray, sculptor John Goodman and art historian Bob Balaban. For a bit of international interest, Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville's kicks the bottle to accept the job and Jean Dujardin's there to be French.

Setting down in Normandy shortly after the D-Day landings, they follow the retreating Nazi's but are still unsure where the bulk of the treasures - mostly stolen from private Jewish collections so the owners are dead - are being stashed.

That conundrum is solved by Cate Blanchett's prim Parisian secretary, who worked for the fiendish SS officer responsible for grabbing art for his portly boss Herman Goering and making a note of exactly where the booty was being shipped. (Damon coaxes the information out of her in possibly the least romantic scene you'll see for a long time).

Now armed with the knowledge the Monuments Men set off...but they've got another adversary - the fast-approaching Red Army who want the art for themselves as war reparations.

This is a perfectly amiable caper movie - Goodman and Murray are hardly stretching themselves but they do provide perfectly-judged comic interludes and Clooney keeps the action  - a sort of geriatric Ocean's Eleven - ticking along quite nicely.

However, the introduction of a couple of fatalities while bringing a ring of authenticity jar against the throwaway, self-congratulatory treasure trail nature and the heavy poser 'is a work of art worth more than a human life?' is the sort of question better suited to something like 1964's The Train.

It all looks good, particularly the seas of rubble which were once French towns and the vast caverns overflowing like Aladdin's caves, while composer Alexandre Desplat supplies a sentimental score that seems a throwback to the wave of wartime 1960s American war movies.

So watchable...but you cannot help thinking if might have been better if Clooney had opted to go light...or darken things down.

Not a masterpiece...but a competent copy.

Joanna
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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by Joanna on Fri Feb 14 2014, 19:42

"Above all else, if you’re a Clooney fan, there’s much here to enjoy. It’s always fun to see him do his thing and as the leader of the gang he’s irrepressible."

Well....I'm a Clooney fan !

 Sofa bounce 

Joanna
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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by Mazy on Sat Feb 15 2014, 00:10

Joanna wrote:"Above all else, if you’re a Clooney fan, there’s much here to enjoy. It’s always fun to see him do his thing and as the leader of the gang he’s irrepressible."

Well....I'm a Clooney fan !

 Sofa bounce 
Quite right Joanna, I will see it no matter what anyone writes. Some just enjoy picking apart others creations.

Mazy
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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by Mazy on Sat Feb 15 2014, 00:14

This is a week old but didn't see it here.
George Clooney To The Rescue In 'The Monuments Men'
Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
Updated: February 7, 2014 - 1:46 PM

THE MONUMENTS MEN
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking.

In “The Monuments Men,” George Clooney and a starry cast risk their lives trying to save art treasures from Nazi looters during World War II.

Don’t go to “The Monuments Men” expecting to see a flippant WWII “Ocean’s Fourteen.” It’s deliciously entertaining, but deeper than that. Though George Clooney is leading an all-star crew through a daring heist — rescuing occupied Europe’s greatest art treasures from the Nazis — this is a sturdy, old-school, big-scale Greatest Generation war movie. It’s great escapism.

The unlikely story is about true-life heroism, not irony. It’s frequently funny yet earnest at heart. Directing, starring and co-writing, Clooney honors unheralded men who made a crucial contribution to the war for civilization. It’s a story about men risking lives to save Western culture’s greatest achievements from brutes who saw books and timeless art as tinder and kindling.
The stakes are clear from the opening scene, with Da Vinci’s wall mural “The Last Supper” near collapse after an Allied bombing raid on Milan in 1943 reduced the refectory housing it to rubble.

“The Monuments Men” follows the fictional characters of art conservationist Frank Stokes (Clooney) and museum director James Granger (Matt Damon) as they recruit a half-dozen artists and experts to preserve masterworks. The squad includes Bill Murray as an architect, John Goodman as a sculptor, Bob Balaban as a theater impresario and Jean Dujardin as a French resistance fighter.

They’re an odd lot, gifted and flawed, and they don’t always get along with each other or their pragmatic GI counterparts. The film doesn’t squander a lot of time building background stories for them. With iconic faces and talents like these, that’s unnecessary. Goodman conveys more with the twitch of an eye than pages of dialogue can tell, and the comic friction between Murray and Balaban is as sly as anything in a Christopher Guest movie. These actors have a sense of identity from the get-go.

The film looks stupendous, with Normandy Beach, Paris, snow-covered Belgian forests, castles and cathedrals gloriously photographed by Phedon Papamichael. The olive drab and gray of the military equipment and uniforms offer a striking contrast to the beautiful jewel tones of the art on display.

Most of the artwork in peril features religious subject matter, a canny choice on Clooney’s part. It’s shorthand for the way art inspires and enriches our daily lives, and for most viewers it carries deeper emotional associations than secular works by Vermeer or Rembrandt.

Cate Blanchett throbs with suppressed rage as a Paris curator forced into cooperation with Nazi art looters. She’d be executed on the spot if they realized she was secretly cataloging the destinations of national treasures being carted away for display in Hitler’s proposed Führer Museum. To recapture that beauty — there are worse reasons to risk your life. Her ardor helps convince even skeptics that there’s more than canvas and paint and chiseled stone at stake here.

The film is episodic, and it could have been stronger with a centerpiece conflict between the old, out-of-shape scholars and a nemesis. Even so, it’s strong work, with a sense of the capricious ebb and flow of history. The offhand way the squad learns that the war has ended is a delightful throwaway.The film’s emotional peak hits at a time, and in a way, you’re unprepared for. While a medic (played by Clooney’s co-writer Grant Heslov) works on a gravely wounded soldier, Murray hears a homemade recording of his grandchildren singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” over the camp PA system. At moments like that, and during the touching cameo appearance by Clooney’s father, Nick, you know you’re watching one straight from the heart. And that’s right where it hits

you.http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/movies/244024461.html

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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by it's me on Sat Feb 15 2014, 05:29

nice!!!!!!

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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by Joanna on Sat Feb 15 2014, 10:49

At moments like that, and during the touching cameo appearance by Clooney’s father, Nick, you know you’re watching one straight from the heart.
And that’s right where it hits


And that's what was intended in the making
of the film.

Joanna
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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

Post by it's me on Sat Feb 15 2014, 14:00

and also G wanted
in some weird English dark humor  Drunk 
really dedicate it to his father  I love you 

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Re: Review, ‘The Monuments Men’ Finds Humanity And Humor In War

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