The Monuments Men

The-Rape-of-Europa-f

Some people have tired of our glut of World War II films. On the one hand, I sympathize. But on the other hand, WWII was such an expansive conflict that it generated thousands of stories that are well worth telling. The trick is that we should make fewer movies in the Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers mold and more about other aspects of the war. The Monuments Men seems like an admirable effort to do just that, but the film has not been well-received. On the one hand, this is a shame, since the movie dramatizes a fascinating part of the war, one that many people don’t know about. But on the other hand, as usual, documentaries have beaten fiction to the punch in telling this tale. So if The Monuments Men is a letdown, you can learn about the exact same thing with The Rape of Europa. The “Monuments Men” were the members of the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, a section of the allied forces that operated during the latter years of WWII. A collective of art historians and experts, they were dedicated to preserving the culture of Europe, which had been just as ravaged by the Axis assault as its people and infrastructure. As the film tells us, the Nazis were not just among the worst killers in history; they were some of the most prolific thieves, as well. Hitler’s regime stole one-fifth of Europe’s art. It was the job of the Monuments Men to recover these works. READ MORE

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goodman

The past few years have been kind to John Goodman: Monsters University was a worthy followup to Monsters Inc.; Inside Llewyn Davis was the best film of 2013; he stole the show in Flight; he was a part of a best picture winner with Argo; and he was in two kids films that will never be forgotten: Speed Racer and ParaNorman. The fact that that list of films doesn’t begin to  cover all of Goodman’s good fortune goes to show how blessed he’s been. Really, how hard he’s worked. Settling into his fifth decade of acting, Goodman is hitting his stride. Yet it’s the actor who accredits this success to pure chance. “It’s just the luck of the draw,” Goodman explained, while discussing The Monuments Men. “It’s total luck. Boy, I’m grateful everyday for it. The last few years have been a great ride. I look forward to going to work everyday. I wouldn’t trade it.” And why would he? He’s appeared in many critical and commercial darlings, and he’s even back on a series with Amazon’s Alpha House, which, from the sound of it, he had a blast making. The same goes for his time spent on The Monuments Men.

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monuments_men

George Clooney is an undervalued filmmaker. With Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Clooney showed he was the real deal behind the camera. He followed that, his best film, with the widely acclaimed Goodnight and Good Luck, as well as the overlooked Leatherheads, and one of 2011′s best films, The Ides of March. His films have no shortage of ambition or passion, but his newest movie, The Monuments Men, suffers from perhaps too much of both. Hitler started stealing art during World War II in the hopes of creating a cultural town made up of all these stolen pieces. He was robbing people of their history and culture, and in retaliation FDR commissioned a team to go retrieve the art and find their rightful owners. George Stout (Clooney) led the group and convinced FDR to support the mission and his team of non-traditional soldiers. For the most part, this ensemble features the kind of limited character definition we expect from The Expendables, not Clooney and his writing partner Grant Heslov. Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonnenville) is the only fully-defined character in the bunch. There’s a segment of the film where he goes off on a mission by himself resulting in a dramatic conflict that could make for its own film, and it’s a far more engaging possibility than the one we get.

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Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Commentary

Actors’ behind-the-camera debuts are rarely great. There’s generally a safeness to those movies, where it feels more like an actor testing the waters than having a story they need to tell. A big exception to that trend: George Clooney. Clooney took a major chance on Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. Sure, he had a script written by Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation), but he made bold choices as a filmmaker. From the film’s complex style, the timeline they have to show in two hours, and the tonally tricky humor, Clooney’s first directorial outing was an ambitious introduction. Since then he’s tried his hand at varying material, constantly pushing himself as a filmmaker. Nothing against his films since 2002, including the overlooked Leatherheads, but Confessions of a Dangerous Mind remains his best picture. This is a film where big choices were made, and every single one of them hit their mark. It’s an emotional dark comedy that not many filmmakers could pull off.

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Monuments Men

Hollywood has a favorite sport, one that comes complete with odds and bets and even occasional physical contact, though it’s not one that requires a ball or a uniform or actual rules – it’s Oscar prognostication, and it’s out of control. Every year, awards season wonks start crafting lists of possible contenders and winners still earlier and earlier. Many of this year’s safest bets (if there can be such a thing) have yet to even hit theaters or screen beyond film festivals, but plenty of journalists, bloggers, and writers who focus their attentions on awards season have already gotten to work on their lists for 2014. It must be noted – many of the films apparently bound of Oscar glory haven’t been completed yet, some of them haven’t even started filming, and yet they are already the subject of career-making guesswork. The last few weeks have seen a surprising number of “surefire” awards season contenders drop out of this year’s race, simply by moving their release dates from late 2013 (prime awards season) to various times in 2014 (obviously, a film cannot be eligible for 2013 awards if it opens in 2014). George Clooney’s The Monuments Men is the latest to join a long line of films, much like Foxcatcher, The Immigrant, Grace of Monaco, and (for awhile there at least) Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.

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Monuments Men

The full trailer for George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men has dropped, and it’s tonally much different than the teaser released back in August. The film, about a ragtag platoon of (aging) art experts tasked with stealing back art from the Nazis during WWII, was presented in the teaser as more of a tongue-in-cheek look at bumbling older men trying to make in through their mission and complete this important task. In the full trailer, the tone has changed (or improved, depending how you look at it) and this film is now a tense thriller where the art must be rescued by these important men at all costs. Gone are the scenes of flustered old men barely making it through basic training (okay, there’s one still in there), replaced with gunfire, crumpled buildings and paintings being thrown on a bonfire as Clooney makes an impassioned speech about art being the cause for fighting…”for culture, for a way of life.” I suddenly really, really care about art now. A lot of the tonal shift has to do with the new music selection — backing anything with that tense score makes even the most innocuous dialogue sound like classified information. Now, will the actual film match the teaser or the trailer? Check out the new trailer here:

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Monuments Men

We just got our first look at a still from George Clooney‘s The Monuments Men, but that hasn’t stopped the powers that be from releasing a new trailer immediately afterward. This one is a bit of a mixed bag. The pairing of Clooney and Matt Damon will always bring about one thing: that Ocean’s Eleven sense of suave. You see these two together, you know you’re about to see a film about cool guys who look good and pull off daring deeds. Stir this into the “stealing art to save art” story, add the little hint of WWII intrigue we get at the trailer’s end, and you’ve basically got Ocean’s for the greatest generation (even though the original Ocean’s Eleven already qualifies). The ragtag team of misfits introduced in this trailer really cements this idea. On the one hand, seeing a bunch of bumbling old men stumble through armed combat sounds terrific; especially so when those aging bumblers are played by the likes of John Goodman, Bill Murray, and Bob Balaban. But honestly, the whole idea seems a little played out. I’ve seen both Ocean’s Eleven and Saving Private Ryan. What exactly will The Monuments Men offer that couldn’t be accomplished by haphazardly cutting those two films together? A trailer should make you want to see the film in question, but this one just makes me wonder if the awkward music choice and fluctuating tone are more a product of the trailer or the finished film. Check out the first trailer […]

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THE-MONUMENTS-MEN

When the endless stream of awards-show talk begins its yearly smothering of the movie industry, expect the words The Monuments Men to come up. The film’s got all the necessary pieces: It’s based both on real-life events and on a book (Robert M. Edsel‘s “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History”) and will have George Clooney wearing both his director and lead actor hats. Presumably, if the film’s actually a good one, it’ll be racking up all kinds of neat little statuettes. And thanks to Entertainment Weekly (via Facebook), you can see the first still from The Monuments Men above. You can also read more about the film below.

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Matt Damon

What is Casting Couch? It’s not so much a couch as it is a list, a list of recent castings. And it seems to be talking a lot about World War II today. George Clooney and Matt Damon must have decided that they both look super handsome when they’re standing next to each other, because not only have they already worked together on the Oceans movies and Syriana, but now Deadline is reporting that Clooney has decided that he’s going to cast Damon in his next project as a director, The Monuments Men. This is that one about the museum curators who try to save as many artifacts and works of art as possible during the Nazis’ slash and burn campaign that took place during the dying days of World War II. If Damon’s negotiations go well and he signs up, he’ll be joining a cast that already includes Clooney himself, Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban—which is enough big name actors that they should probably just cash in and rename this thing Oceans Monuments Men.

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Director George Clooney

What is Casting Couch? Proof that not everyone’s tracking Hurricane Sandy’s path on Twitter. Some are still out there casting movies. The big casting news over the weekend was all of the big names that were announced for George Clooney’s next project as a director, The Monuments Men. Deadline had the scoop that this period drama about a group of art historians and museum curators trying to recover important and historical works from the clutches of the Nazis is going to star names like Bill Murray, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban. As far as I know none of these people can even speak German, but you’ve still got to look at that list and be impressed. You could cast this crew as an office full of telemarketers and everyone would still watch the movie, making them heroes during the dying days of the Nazi regime is just icing on the cake.

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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