Friday, May 30, 2014

"Monuments Men" (2014)

I didn't know they made movies like this anymore!  Seriously, this could have been made in the '60s, back when they were making The Guns of Navaronne and The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare.  Like those classic WWII movies, Monuments Men is unabashedly heroic.  There's none of the moral uncertainty or post-modernist hand-wringing that plagues many recent war movies.  And I think perhaps that's why this movie was not beloved of the critics.  It does not feel like a modern war movie.  In fact, it's something of an anachronism -- a quiet, gentle movie in many ways, but still a war movie too.  No wonder the critics disliked it -- it's not exactly like every other movie being made right now!

And the characters.  So many nice people, these characters!  I liked them all, definitely want to be friends with most of them :-)  Also, some of them reminded me a lot of characters from Combat!, which definitely added to my enjoyment.  Frank Stokes (George Clooney) had that debonair officer thing going on, just like Lt. Hanley (Rick Jason).  Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) was the jaunty, charming, French-speaking outsider, quite like Caje (Pierre Jalbert).  Walter Garfield (John Goodman) was the round guy who likes to cheer others up, rather like Braddock (Shecky Greene).  In fact, the movie as a whole would have worked pretty well as a Combat! episode, a two-parter like "The Long Way Home."  In fact, I was reminded several times of one C! ep in particular, "Heritage," which guest-starred Charles Bronson and involved the squad finding a bunch of stolen artwork hidden in a cave.  I'm guessing that ep was inspired by the events this movie portrays.

Because this is based on a true story, you know, of soldiers trying to rescue artwork from the Nazis.  The movie poses the question of whether or not a "priceless" painting or statue is worth a person's life, and it kind of leaves it up to the viewer to decide, though it's pretty plain what the filmmakers think.

Damon as Granger
My favorite character was absolutely James Granger, and not just cuz he was played by Matt Damon, though that did factor in a great deal :-)  He's kind, sensible, helpful, nice -- exactly what I like in a character.  (SPOILER!) Granger is a married man, and he gets to know this French woman, Claire (Cate Blanchett), and she makes it plain she'd like to sleep with him without saying it in so many words, and he turns her down, remaining very gentlemanly but firm.  (END SPOILER)

Is this movie family friendly?  More than most modern movies!  There's a fair amount of cussing, on par with a late-60s-or-early-70s war movie, and a woman very obliquely asks a man to sleep with her, but it's all implied, nothing stated in so many words.

11 comments:

  1. I agree with you about modern war movies. Honestly, there is not a single serious one made in the last 20 years that I actually like. The old ones are a lot better in my opinion, and I look forward to seeing Monuments Men.

    -James

    -James

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  2. My family watched this movie the other day while I was writing. Now, I think I'll see if they still have it around. It sounds really good. Especially Granger. How many modern movies support someone who stays true to his spouse?

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    1. I KNOW! I kept sitting there in total dread because I was sure he was going to succumb to the temptation. And he didn't even kiss her or anything! I was so pleased.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! I thought the idea of it was really cool - rescuing the paintings and the reasons behind doing so - but in the end it seemed a little lacking to me.

    xx

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    1. Oh, and I liked the Matt Damon character best too. :)

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    2. Maybe it depends on expectations? I expected a modern war movie and was pleasantly surprised when it was more like a "classic" war movie.

      How can anyone help but like Matt Damon's character in this?

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  4. See, I KNEW I needed to watch this. Now I know for sure definitely with no hesitation that I need to watch this.

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    1. Yes! It's just such a nice movie, it really is. I told my dad how much I enjoyed it, and he promptly watched it too and agreed it was quite a throwback to the kinds of war movies we watched together when I was a kid.

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  5. I just watched this again last night to get ideas for my newest book, and loved it as much the second time as the first. It is an amazing movie. The wonderful friendships, the devotion and determination to help the Jews save their heritage. The acting. The actors. The story.
    I just loved it. I would watch it again today if I didn't have so much work to do.

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    1. A friend bought me a copy as a gift, but it hasn't arrived yet, and I may break down and get it from Redbox soon just to see it again.

      What's your new book about? Something WWII-related?

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Agree or disagree? That is the question...

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