Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Monuments Men

   Co-written for the screen, directed by and starring George Clooney, this is a really interesting true story of World War II unfortunately made into a bland, boring movie. Mr. Clooney's script is episodic at best and lackluster throughout. As for his acting, he basically plays himself narrating a History Channel special.

     To his credit, he assembles a first rate cast including Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray and Jean Dujardin. The actors all play art specialists of one sort or another assembled to help retrieve stolen art by the Nazi's towards the end of the war. Cate Blanchett plays a French patriot who has the key to finding much of the lost art. Mr. Clooney's direction of this terrific cast, however is the real crime here. I can't remember such top rate talent boring me beyond words. 

      The war torn European scenery looks authentic, the story is really fascinating but the cast plod through a poorly edited patchwork of a film. It does an injustice to all the real men and women who risked their lives saving thousands of works of art. I'm sure Mr. Clooney had the best intentions for telling the story but he got lost in the material and the film probably would have been better served with a different director.

      The only suspense comes very late in the film when the Americans race to get to some of the lost works before the Russian army does. For real suspense rent the 1964 film, "The Train" starring Burt Lancaster. It narrows the same story down to a single Nazi train of stolen art leaving Paris, headed to Germany that must be stopped without damaging it's precious cargo. A terrific film and one of Mr. Lancaster's best.

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