The Monuments Men


Year 2014

George Clooney   as   Frank Stokes
Matt Damon as James Granger
Bill Murray as Richard Campbell
Cate Blanchett as Claire Simone
John Goodman as Walter Garfield
Jean Dujardin as Jean Claude Clermont  
Bob Balaban as Preston Savitz
 
Director - George Clooney
Screenwriters - George Clooney
  - Grant Heslov

The Monuments Men is very nearly a nasty movie. There are two things that save it:

  1. My wife liked it
  2. Congress bestowed awards on the real Monuments Men the year this movie came out

But from the onset of this movie, you know that it's only loosely based on fact.

If you're not familiar with the story of the Monuments Men, during World War II, Adolf Hitler confiscated all of the art treasures that he could find. Any time Hitler's armies came across works of art, he took them away to his own storage facilities. Paintings, statues, and sculptures were all taken from where they were found and transported elsewhere. Tracking down these priceless object d'art and returning them to their rightful owners was the task of a special team of men who had the moniker of The Monuments Men. The movie attempt to tell their story to the world.

What the movie succeeds in doing is annoying the audience with hackneyed scenes and telling George Clooney's story to the world.

George Clooney may be a wonderful human being with a lot of Harpywood and Washington, D.C. clout. But, he gets under my skin. All I have to see is one second of his insincere smile and I'm ready to start grinding my teeth. Clooney has nice teeth and he'd never grind his, but he would and does shine them often to show that, you know, he cares and is just an average guy and stuff and definitely NOT a media hound. If you're a diabetic, avoid George Clooney movies because you'll be convulsing from sugar overdose within seconds of the start of film. Maybe not, though, because it's artificial sweetener.

In this movie, using twenty-FIRST century graphics, a 1942 Frank Stokes (Clooney) tries to convince FDR that he should start recoving art stolen by Hitler. Will Frank succeed? Is there any suspense? Frank does, by gummit! Vive, Les Americains!

Only there is no Frank Stokes listed among the real Monuments Men (http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/the-heroes/the-monuments-men). Nor is there a Jerry Granger (Damon), a Richard Campbell (Murray), or a Jean Claude Clermont (Dujardin). No one in the film ever existed. Maybe the characters are composites of real people, but none of the characters in the film were real. There were seven Monuments Men in the movie plus maybe Claire Simone (Blanchett). There were 345 people in the group in the real world. None of them were named George Clooney or even just Clooney.

But in the movie, seven men did the work of nearly 350. This gives you some idea of the type of whoppers this movie tries to get you to swallow.

Two repugnant scenes come to mind. One has to do with two men drinking champagne and Simone having to get an extra glass. Simone does not like either of the two men. What happens with the glass? Guess. Come on, guess! And don't think in terms of reality. Let your mind go free of adulthood and cause and effect. Think in terms of bodily fluids. Think. Th-i-i-i-nk. Of course, she spits in the glass! An accomplice hocks up a loogie to help. Somehow, we are to believe that this goes unnoticed in a glass of champagne. You know that pale liquid that foams and bubbles when there's so much as an imperfection in a glass muchless a wad of spittle. No one would have noticed THAT! Well, maybe a deaf (extra bubbles) and blind (what's that slimy stuff in the glass) and taste dead (the champagne is partially digested) person would not.

The farcical meeting with FDR and the ptui! scene are shown early in the movie and basically destroy any sense of importance or reality regarding the rest of goings-on.

The other scene? Remember that I said that there were two. It's around Christmas and both Preston Savitz (Balaban) and Campbell get packages from home. You know, because it's around Christmas, that some sort of heavy-handed attempt at sentimentality is coming. Sure enough, Savitz gets all sorts food that he loudly enjoys but won't share while Campbell gets a record from his family. Poor Campbell. Instead of trying to find a record player, he decides to take a shower. It's night, in the middle of winter, and Campbell decides to take a shower. Hey! Why not! That's... Well, it's not normal but it's something to get him away from Savitz so that Savitz can play the record on the camp Public Address system.

If this happened to me, I'd be angry. Butt kicking, yelling and screaming, angry. To have my only communication with my wife, something intimate and personal, broadcast to everyone would be a breach of confidence that I'd never get over. In the movie, it's supposed to be touching and teary-eyed. Needless to say, this fails.

As do most of disjointed scenes. Why does Simone's ex-boss fire his pistol at her at the train station? Who killed Clermont and why? What was Granger's job? And did anyone not expect the Madonna and child (a.k.a Michelangelo’s Bruges Madonna) to be in the last place the Monuments Men looked before they were called back?

There were too many coincidences and disjointed scenes. The pacing was poor and the dialog rated a grade of six. I mean six as in sixth grade level vocabulary.

This artless movie attempts to solicit an appreciation of art. But opportunities to do this are poorly directed and take a backseat to a need to create some feeling for the characters. The latter are all juvenile flops and result in the viewer disliking most of the characters. Because, you see, most characters come off as shallow and vain. If it wasn't for the fact that this movie was probably responsible for the Monuments Men receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014, then this movie would have been an example of the worst kind of self-serving abuse of real-life heroism.

One thing that the movie does not address, and it should have, is who owns the art? Sure the Monuments Men take the art from Hitler and return it to its last known owner. But, how did the last known owner get the art in the first place? There's a reasonable chance that the last owner most likely got the art illicitly. This grey area of morality, of returning purloined goods to the previous thief, is not even hinted at. If only that had been broached, then a lot of other sins would have been forgiven. But it's not that kind of movie. It's a fairy tale kind of movie without any real moral.

No nudity but there is profanity. There's some chick flick potential because Matt Damon's character is true to his wife. If you don't see the movie, then you don't waste about two hours of your life. If you want to waste some time, check out the web link above. It's more educational and tells, shockingy, the truth.


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