Monday, September 15, 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

Solano County theater honored for stage work

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Antoine, Ted and National Recovery Month

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

Armijo Alumni Association to host barbecue

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Suisun council to hear fireworks sales report

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
CHP schedules teen driver classes

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Kroc Center hosts fall senior health fair

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Local governments schedule meetings

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Former Vacaville resident received TechCrunch honor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B6

Recycling business honored

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B6

 
Small-business center posts free classes list

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B6

Il Fiorello schedules butchery class

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B6

 
New freeway sign goes up

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Weather for Sept. 15, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

S&P: California recovers growth with tax increases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Diplomatic push grows against Islamic State group

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Santa Monica using $1M to evaluate its happiness

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Small earthquake rattles Northern California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Navy identifies pilot presumed dead after crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Northern California deck collapse injures 9

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California regulators seek train-bridge inspectors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Skin shocks used at Mass. school draw FDA look

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

California nudist camp accused of stealing water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Wildlife experts work to keep baby opossums alive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Queen to Scots: Think carefully about future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US man in North Korea given 6 years of hard labor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Britain mourns slain hostage; another under threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
$50K reward offered for tips on trooper’s slaying

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

.

Opinion

To exit the Pottery Barn, turn right

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

 
Immigration facts by the numbers

By Earl Heal | From Page: A8

Thank you from Meals on Wheels

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
The NFL can learn from football coaches in Texas

By Cynthia M. Allen | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Sept. 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Sept. 15, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Sept. 16, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Randall: Travel tips for visiting my ‘homes’

By Sharon Randall | From Page: B5

Horoscopes: Sept. 15, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
I love Howard, but I hate his addiction to drugs

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid Seot 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Miss New York chosen as Miss America 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

TVGrid Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

 
‘No Good Deed’ defeats ‘Guardians’ at theaters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Jay Cutler rallies Bears past 49ers in fourth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders embarrassed after 30-14 loss to Texans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Homers from Moss, Fuld lead A’s past Seattle 4-0

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Giants lose 4-2 to Dodgers, fall 3 back in NL West

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Armijo girls run to 3rd-place finish in Folsom

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Keselowski wins opening round of NASCAR’s Chase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

USA wins basketball worlds, 129-92 over Serbia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Could Pacquiao fight be in cards for Mayweather?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Horschel caps amazing run with FedEx Cup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Kim beats Webb by 1 to win Evian Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

For Better or Worse Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield September 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Word Sleuth Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote Sept 16

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C. Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield September 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Cryptoquote Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Crossword Sept 15

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7