MOVIE REVIEW : THE MONUMENTS MEN

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GEORGE CLOONEY TAKES ANOTHER SWING AT DIRECTING

Everyone is a george clooney fan, whether they want to admit it or not. The ladies love him, men can’t deny that he seems like a pretty cool guy, and by now, everyone knows who he is as an actor. He’s witty, charming, charismatic and has a very strong on-screen presence. We know what to expect from a Clooney performance, so it is always exciting whenever he takes on more challenging film roles. Whether or not he takes chances, Clooney is always worth watching as an actor, where the confidence that he exudes in front of the camera cannot be denied. As a director, however, george clooney is much less sure of himself…

After an impressive batting average as an actor (ER, The Descendants, Gravity), producer (Argo, Syriana), and director (Good Night, and Good Luck, The Ides of March), george clooney takes a swing and misses with “The Monuments Men”, in which he serves as co-writer, director and star. Clooney’s new World War II film has to be one of the most ill-conceived major studio releases ever. It’s not exactly a bad movie, it’s just determined at all costs to avoid being interesting. The film is pleasant, and slightly amusing for a few brief moments here and there, but for FILM STUDENTS, this is a case study in what happens when the premise of a story is systematically cleansed of all drama.

Directed by george clooney, who also leads the ensemble cast, it tells the fictionalized true story of the US government’s efforts to recapture precious artwork stolen by the Nazis toward the end of World War II. An unlikely group of older men are rushed through basic training and sent into the European theater of World War II to rescue objects of art from the Nazis, who have been stealing cultural treasures from conquered territories. Hitler eventually issues an order that the Nazi loot must be destroyed if he dies or Germany falls, so the race is on to save mankind’s cultural treasures from fascist evil. The team includes New York art curator James Granger (Matt Damon), architect Richard Campbell (Bill Murray), sculptor Walter Garfield (John Goodman), a French art instructor and dealer Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin), historian Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) and British academic and recovering alcoholic, Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville). Along with the seven art experts is a Jewish-German youngster named Sam (Dimitri Leonidas) who’s on hand to translate and drive.

I’ve long been a fan of Clooney the actor but Clooney the director is a different ball game altogether. ‘The Ides of March’, ‘Good Night and Good Luck’ and ‘Leather Heads’ are all solid films… but are they great movies? I don’t think so. Not only can the same be said about ‘The Monuments Men’ but it’s fair to suggest that it’s Clooney’s most uninspiring and boring film to date. What gets me so frustrated is that an interesting story coupled with such an esteemed cast should have blown audiences away. But sadly, it didn’t.

Ocean’s 11 was slick and cool but ‘The Monuments Men’ is dusty and wearisome. Still, there is significant viewing pleasure watching these high-profile stars do their understated thing.  While it is a bit of a slow-burner, this true historical story combined with the chemistry of the cast and characters is what helped me get through it. Not something I would recommend as a “must watch”, but if you’re a Clooney fan and want to give this a try, I wont hold you back.

My Rating: 6/10

By: Murteza Haider Aftab
Director – Cinematographer – Writer
CEO – Tez Aftab Productions

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