Posted by: greercn | February 25, 2014

The Monuments Men

What a very entertaining film! George Clooney directs and stars in one of the very few movies aimed squarely at people over 50.

It’s almost impossible to imagine that very young men – the usual target market – would get anything much out of this at all.

Complex, engrossing and thoughtful, “The Monuments Men” creates a new genre in its unabashed WW2 tale of stolen art. Equal parts action, ensemble piece and educational, the whole thing feels original and absorbing.

The true story is about 300 art experts who worked to rescue millions of works stolen by the Nazis and restore them to its rightful owners. There are beautiful photos of the real people involved that run during the end credits.

For drama, the film concentrates on just seven people. George Clooney and Matt Damon star and both are terrific, funny and moving. Hugh Bonneville is profoundly affecting and engaging as a Brit. Just this once, it’s nice to see a Brit as a hero in an American film.

Is art the soul of a country? Is it worth risking your life to save a masterpiece? Those are the questions asked of the viewer.

Concentrating the action on the search for two beautiful and religious pieces is a nice way to focus attention.

There are some missteps in a clever film. Cate Blanchett’s French accent is dreadful. I adore her, but that sound is distractingly awful.

And I wince at the wrong pronunciation of “Montreal” forced onto Matt Damon. You can pronounce it the French way or the local non-French way, but the mocking of Quebec French while mispronouncing the key place name shows shoddy research.

There’s a USA flag with 50 stars in one key scene. Until 1959, that flag had 48 stars.

But these are minor quibbles.

Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Dimitri Leonidas all have superb moments.

Nobody under 40 will begin to get it. The critics – mostly young guys – will hate it. But the whole audience at Stratford East Picturehouse laughed out loud at the funny lines and most people were refreshingly mature. I didn’t spot a single lit-up phone. We were THAT old that we can keep our phones off for two hours.

It all zaps by and I didn’t even peek at my watch once. It feels like a movie from another age, when it was assumed that the audience had at attention span.

What a golden start to 2014 with so many smart films that challenge the brain and stay in your mind. I do hope that’s a trend.

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Responses

  1. Good review Greer. If anything, the cast is what made this movie a bit better to watch. Even if it is quite clear that they didn’t have much at all to work with here.

  2. I think it’s an older form of film, designed to engage and provoke older people. Thanks for the comment! Much appreciated.


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