Tuesday, July 29, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Review: ‘Monuments Men’ a misstep for Clooney

Bill Murray;Bob Balaban

This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Dimitri Leonidas, John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bob Balaban in "The Monuments Men." (AP Photo/Columbia Pictures, Claudette Barius)

By
From page B2 | February 07, 2014 |

George Clooney, movie director, started out with so much promise.

He began with two stories about television’s power, both to distort reality (“Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” about “Gong Show” host Chuck Barris) and to reveal it (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” about Edward R. Murrow). Neither was perfect, but the films showed tremendous potential, particularly the latter, with its thick clouds of paranoia and cigarette smoke.

But Clooney has gone somewhat astray, with the football comedy “Leatherheads,” the political thriller “The Ides of March” and now “The Monuments Men.” They’re not bad pictures, but nostalgia — made urgent in “Good Night” — suffocates the World War II caper “The Monuments Men” like it did the screwball ode “Leatherheads.”

Clooney’s taste is very good, and in adapting Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter’s book by the same title about the Allied forces’ pursuit of art masterpieces stolen by Nazis, he has chosen a fascinating historical tale that also bears the intriguing question: What’s the price we’re willing to pay for art?

But while a Michelangelo may be worth dying for, “The Monuments Men” is, at best, adequately priced as a movie ticket. Clooney, working from a script he penned with his frequent collaborator Grant Heslov, has fashioned his film as a traditional WWII flick, with a “Great Escape”-like score by Alexandre Desplat and a sentimental kind of soldierly chumminess.

Only this band of brothers is more like an assembly of academics. A handful of museum curators and art experts have been gathered by art historian Frank Stokes (Clooney) to investigate and retake the troves of artwork the Nazis have stolen for a mammoth German museum planned by Hitler.

The platoon is ill-suited for war but bold in spirit: an art restorer (Matt Damon), an architect (Bill Murray), a sculptor (John Goodman), a British museum head (Hugh Bonneville), a theater producer (Bob Balaban) and a French painting instructor (Jean Dujardin). Some of the pairings are fitting: Clooney and Damon planning another heist (“Ocean’s Thirteen”); Dujardin and Goodman back on speaking terms (“The Artist”).

In truth, more than 300 Allied servicemen and women worked in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program in the final years of the war. They helped lead to the recovery of about 6 million objects (estimates vary). Most of the names in the film have been changed, and the mission has been made significantly more romantic.

Cate Blanchett plays a reluctant-to-cooperate assistant curator from Paris’ Jeu de Paume museum. A book by real-life Rose Valland inspired John Frankenheimer’s 1964 film, “The Train,” with Burt Lancaster. It portrayed the French Resistance effort to derail a train of stolen art taken from the Jeu de Paume. With the cunning of sabotage and the soot of the train yard, “The Train” makes a more superior and grittier film.

“The Monuments Men” is instead weighed down by dutifulness. It feels like it’s only a third act, lacking any buildup of tension or character development. When Stokes solemnly argues early in the film about risking life for the recovery of what he calls “the foundation of modern society,” the movie has presented its thesis statement, and settled any debate. Though deadly encounters follow, the nobility of the quest is unchallenged.

With this film, Clooney (who enjoys a self-satisfying scene telling off a Nazi) has erected a stiff monument, a worthy if undramatic tribute to those it’s based on.

One wishes the movie had arrived 11 years earlier. Maybe it would have raised enough awareness to take precautions ahead of the toppling of Saddam Hussein, when Baghdad’s Iraq museum was looted of thousands of antiquities.

“The Monuments Men,” a Columbia Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some images of war violence and historical smoking. Running time: 118 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Library teens plan summer reading party

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

 
Weather for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page:

 
Big-rig driver strikes telephone lines in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: July 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: June 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Caltrans makes I-80 lane change

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 4 Comments

 
Fairfield tries to end Cordelia Road detour

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ primed for big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

US / World

 
Sacramento Gold Rush Days canceled due to drought

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Man charged in teen’s 9-month disappearance

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Deal to improve veterans’ health care costs $17B

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment | Gallery

Suspect dead, 2 marshals and cop wounded in NYC

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
New fears about Ebola spread after plane scare

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

In Iraq’s Mosul, radicals unleash their vision

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 1 Comment

 
Fighting in Ukraine prompts residents to flee

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Witnesses: Thunderstorm hit beach without warning

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Suspect’s mom also charged in Long Beach burglary

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
City: Emails show ‘cozy’ ties of PG&E, regulator

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Pool water dumped in South Tahoe; resort fires 3

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Additional charge filed in California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page:

California governor takes dig at Texas guard plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: , 2 Comments | Gallery

 
.

Opinion

Editorial cartoons for July 29, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page:

 
 
.

Living

Horoscopes for July 29, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Today in History for July 29, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

I don’t want to have intimate contact since learning I had a STD

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page:

 
Community Calendar: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page:

.

Entertainment

Kevin Bacon brings his ‘Six Degrees’ to Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Sarah Palin launches online subscription channel

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment | Gallery

‘Sharknado’ sequel has bite and lots of laughs

By Frazier Moore | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
TVGrid July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Giants lose 5th straight, 5-0 to Pirates

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
 
Lakers finally confirm Byron Scott is new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Raiders relying on healthy Watson to solidify line

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
This date in sports history for Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Quarterback Johnny Manziel’s day at Browns camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
Judge OKs record-setting $2B sale of Clippers

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Humphrey to savor Hall of Fame day with ‘wingman’

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Rays’ Archer: ‘Never saw Hank Aaron flip his bat’

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Reed HOF induction gives Bills cause to celebrate

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

In the Pits: Gordon eyeing 5th title after big Brickyard win

By Jenna Fryer | From Page: | Gallery

 
Marketing agreement an obstacle in US bid for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page:

Sailors to navigate dirty water in 1st Rio test

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Manningham back with Giants, with no guarantees

By The Associated Press | From Page:

.

Business

Contracts to buy US homes slip in June

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
FAA proposes to fine Southwest Airlines $12M

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Stocks pause as traders await key economic news

By The Associated Press | From Page:

 
Zillow buying Trulia to build real estate titan

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

Dollar Tree steps up fight, buys Family Dollar

By The Associated Press | From Page: | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C. July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Crossword July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Garfield July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Word Sleuth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Peanuts July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Cryptoquote July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

For Better or Worse July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Bridge July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Wizard of Id July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5