Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Monumental Mess

If you're planning on seeing "The Monuments Men," keep your expectations very, very low.  Or keep your money in your pocket and stay home.

The script is a mess, the dialogue stunningly trite or absolutely cringe-worthy  (Kate Blanchett, with a  French accent, trying to seduce the properly married, upright Matt Damon by repeatedly murmuring that it is Paris, after all, wink nudge. Really?  That's the best you could do for poor old Academy-Award-winning Kate? Ah, Monsieur, but it eeeze April and it eeeze Pareee . . . .?) 

Worse, the story line is so chopped up it's hard to know what's going on besides endless shots of our various heroes in jeeps zipping around piles of rubble. Granted, the story is a long, complicated one to tell since this special branch of the Army spent years trying to rescue and reclaim all of the art that Hitler looted.  But that's what good script writers do, construct coherent narratives from complicated history and establish, in key scenes, sans voice-overs, what's going on.

So the lack of a good script (and good editor) resulted in a movie had the feel of a director overwhelmed who finally said, Aw, screw it, and cut his footage into pieces, spilled it out on the table and just connected up bits and pieces, added some voice-overs in a desperate attempt to 'splain things, then hoped for the best. 

Well, the best didn't happen and adding George Clooney's voice-overs didn't help.  Especially since he kept troweling on the trite patriotic sentiment about "art" and "civilization" and "why we fight" like thick treacle.

The real Monument Men's story deserved better. So, track down a recent story about them in the Smithsonian magazine or go get some of the books written about the subject. It'll be a better investment of your time and money.



Alon Perlman said...

There was an interview on public radio with one of the authors retelling the original account. He gushed describing the commitment by the directors to historical detail.

Seems like they should had gone some other way. Charlie Chaplin's treatment of the great dictator not surpassed till Mel Brooks came along.
Cate Blanchet as a Vampiress perhaps.

BTW speaking of art and Historically accurate - Adolph had a Jewish Art agent. Perhaps if he had more talent, or even proper training. A style reminiscent of Thomas Kinkade.

Churadogs said...

Alon, I fear the author was gravely misled about the director or Clooney was committed to "historical detail." Or I should say, I'm sure all hands had honorable intentions, but the slip is always between the cup and the lip and films are notorious for missed lips and cups. This thing substituted a tough script and went for patriotic treacle. Plus, the whole thing had a sloppy feeling, like the director got lazy and just tossed a bunch of stuff together as "good enough."

Compare this film with "Zero Dark Thirty," the movie about finding Bin Laden. That was a fingernail biter, was incredibly complex, spanned years, was exciting even though you knew the ending. Same situation with the Monument Men. Or should/could have been. Too bad.

Hitler's relationship with Jews was sooooo weird. You mention having a Jewish Art agent. I suppose, in his twisted mind, that was o.k. Sorta like having a black nanny for your kids, but you wouldn't dream of letting the nanny vote and had no trouble lynching the nanny's young son because he got "uppity." And sickening to think if old Adolf became another Kinkade the holocaust could have been avoided. Somehow I doubt it. Antisemitism was so entrenched in Europe, that I suspect some other fanatic would have come along to stir the lethal brew.Bigotry, hatred, fear, ignorance are ALWAYS afoot, just waiting for the match to light.