These guys are a walking sight gag for sore eyes, but the importance of their mission is no laughing matter.
Hello moviegoers, “The Monuments Men” opens and closes with Harvard Professor and Lieutenant, Frank Stokes played by (George Clooney) making the case before President Roosevelt in an otherwise empty lecture hall for the monuments men, and the post war continuation of the search to recover many of Europe’s fine works of art which were stolen By Adolf Hitler’s Nazi forces during World War II.
‘The Monuments Men’ (3 sweet potatoes out of four) Stars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin; Director: George Clooney; Genre: Wartime, Dramatic Comedy; Rated PG-13; Runtime: 110 minutes; Opens Friday, February 07th.
In-between, Stokes puts together a group of art historians and an architect to help in this undertaking which includes, but is not limited to, James Granger and Richard Campbell played by (Matt Damon) and (Bill Murray) respectively. These men are not soldiers as is noted in their basic training efforts. Walter Garfield played by (John Goodman); his reaction when he’s informed that the gunners are in fact firing live rounds over their heads and not blanks; and his subsequent reaction to finding out he’s the only one not made aware of this bit of information, is subtle but hilarious and sets the tone for the rest of the film.
The movie is co-written and directed by George Clooney who is understated throughout the film. He leaves most of the psychological consideration largely up to the individual viewer. I think this is effective for the most part and makes the individual experience when watching this kind of movie more internalized.
The most complete character in the movie is Donald Jeffries who is played by (Hugh Bonneville) of Downton Abbey lure. He is a disgraced drunk who sees this task as a chance for redemption and makes it his personal and defiant mission to secure Michelangelo’s Madonna and Child.
German expatriate Sam Epstein played by (Dimitri Leonidas), Preston Savitz played by (Bob Balaban) and Frenchman Jean Claude Clermont played by Frenchman (Jean Dujardin) round out the rest of the monuments men. Claire Simone – (Cate Blanchett) – is the lone female in the movie. She is a covert but active member of the French resistance who catalogs in great detail many of the priceless works. Simone is reluctant, but Granger (Damon)will have to convince her to help them steal the art the resistance stole.
The monuments men in the end will have navigated the fields of war and make many recoveries, but their successes won’t be without casualties.
Could ‘The Monuments Men’ have displayed greater urgency and delve deeper into the story of the men that would assume such a task? Sure. But then you’d be talking about an Oscar contender. On the other hand, ‘The Monuments Men’ is a good dramatic comedy with many fully realized scenes, well-played humor and stints of dialogue you don’t see coming. I give ‘The Monuments Men’ 3 sweet potatoes out of four.
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