Wednesday, February 19, 2014



Carole Mallory Headshot

Review: The Monument's Men -- Give it a Break!

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While George Clooney has never looked more like Clark Gable, it is his choice in material that matters. A team of seven art historians, curators and American connoisseurs of our art world's masterpieces take on Hitler, who has stolen these works from their European owners. FDR mandated this unsung band of heroes while Eisenhower was in command. This is a true story of courage and preserving fine art.
I only wish American movie critics would be less myopic and value this film for its substance instead of obvious flaws in its expression. Clooney has written, directed and starred in this fine film, a big task, with a cast of: Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Jean Dujardin.
And while this film is at times slow, it is a triumph in terms of seeing a worthwhile movie when theaters are filled with animation such as Lego The Movie and Frozenand all the other Madagascars and Rios, and who knows what else, as long as kids get their parents to drag them to the box office and make money for studios. What has happened to Hollywood? Is it slowly being converted into one big animation enterprise where actors are hired for their voices and nothing more? Why isn't SAG protesting? Whatever happened to The African Queens, The Bridge on the River Kwais, the On the Waterfronts, the Casablancas? I mean, here we have George Clooney trying to create a movie with substance, and nit picky critics attack him unmercifully. And, in my opinion, without justification. I enjoyed seeing this film. And I go to the movies seeking a meaningful, pleasurable experience.
The performances of these actors is stellar. Balaban exudes his dry, understated wit. Murray does not go for laughs, but allows them to happen due to the situation. No mugging. Matt Damon plays it straight and without any added forced reactions, but lets his character be and his rich inner life dictate. John Goodman, again, plays it straight without mugging or going for any obvious laughs. Cate Blanchett is a killer of a Parisienne who loves fine art more than anything, and shows great comic timing. Jean Dujardin adds a true flavor of French charm and sincerity. Hugh Bonneville is the British addition straight from Downton Abbey, who falls into the arms of the Nazis, and is lovable because of his ability to make you care about him. 

To analyze how these characters are portrayed in contrast to their depiction in Edsel's book, Monument's Men, is unfair to Mr. Clooney and company. If we have to face in adjacent theaters The Lego Movie and Frozen, made for the smallest of folk, why can't we welcome a film made to honor the largest of folk, our WWII heroes? Please. Clooney has tried to enhance the quality of Hollywood's choice in subject matter and made an enjoyable film that is informative and values art more than human life. If only George Bush had had the same values in the Iraq war, and not destroyed the National Museum of Iraq. Monument's Men is an important film not because of its stars, but because of its story and historical significance. Catch it while you can.
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