Ryan here. Andy is out of the office, so I will be taking a break from the Oscar contenders and focus my attention on George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Monuments Men (PG-13).
In this World War II caper, a platoon of art experts are assigned the task of saving stolen European art from the Nazis. The all-start casts includes Clooney as well as Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Bob Balaban.
Originally, The Monuments Men was supposed to be a late-season Oscar contender-of-a-film, but Clooney stated that he needed more time with the special effects and also with establishing the right tone for the movie. And there’s something to be said for that.
In a post-Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers cinematic world, audience members expect/want their World War II films to be gritty, dark and realistic. And while that mindset has inspired some great cinema, I don’t think that every movie set during this time period should be presented in the same way.
It’s clear to me that Clooney was trying to execute a film similar to those great action-adventure World War II films from the ‘60s such as The Great Escape, The Guns of Navarone and The Dirty Dozen. While those movies might seem out-of-date to many audience members, there is a timeless quality to them that I believe Clooney was trying to recapture.
The problem and bottom line is that The Monuments Men is not a great film. It has the ingredients, specifically an amazing cast, but the director is not able to recapture the magic of that bygone cinematic era. He is also unable to visually state what he wants to say.
Most everyone agrees with what Clooney is lecturing about in the movie, but the film would have been more effective showing the audience about the importance of art and culture instead of telling us. Tonally speaking I do think Clooney strikes the one he wants, but maybe as a detriment to that ultra-concentration on the issue, the rest of the film suffers from not being as fleshed out as it could have been.