George (Clooney) please stay behind the camera I beg of you—has no one told you that you can’t act? You seem like a nice person—but stick to smiling and sipping wine in Bellagio. John Goodman, be happy you have residual income—that goes for you as well Bill (Murray)—play golf and continue your charity work. I don’t usually rant about Hollywood or movies (or actors) as I rarely go to them—unless their independent or foreign—can’t take the let down any longer. But a few nights ago I lost my mind and went to see Monument Men. The film was supposed to reflect a story steeped in a sensational save during WWII. But alas, after watching a horrific botched job of this historical event I must (in order to maintain my integrity) denounce Hollywood forever. Their hot days of being the king of film are gone! They have reduced film making to re-hashed plots, special effects, and recycled has been actors. The previews nauseated me—Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner as the comeback kids in violent world ending themes that portray them as bionic heroes and killers—honestly boys you look tired and puffy and oh yes—you can’t act! I am even sick of Russell Crowe—he is starring as Noah (as in the arc) I hope God doesn’t go to the movies.
Ah, I feel better already—got that off my chest and can now focus on the bungled film that should have been brilliant. The true story set an engaging premise around the events that saved historical art pieces the Nazis stole and stashed (and were fine with burning them if they didn’t win the war). No fiction writer could have created a more intriguing scenario. But rather than focusing on essential details that led to the rescue, Monument Men honed in on George Clooney’s face—a perpetual smirk. Despite a desperate needle in a haystack search for beloved works of Renoir, Michelangelo, Picasso, and many other European treasures while dodging bullets and bombs, George remained comatose calm. No change in intonation, no facial grimaces, no body language portraying fear, nothing but a semi smile. Did I mention he also directed the film? And the really pathetic part is the real hero, George Stouts, was a humble man not an actor. He had strong convictions and a deep respect for art so much so that he was willing to risk his life. When he discovered Hitler’s Nero decree which basically stated none of the stolen art can fall into their rightful owners—the enemy-- he worked from dawn to dusk:
“All military transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory, which could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the prosecution of the war, will be destroyed.”
Here is an idea, why not use actors that can actually act that are not “stars” but rather are talented thespians who could give proper homage to the real men and women who salvaged history. Who courageously worked against the Nazi thieves. Hollywood trivialized them—they were secondary to George’s smirk, John’s bulldoggish looks, and Bill’s goofiness. The real Monument men were middle aged—not haggard and pudgy. The only believable actor was Cate (Blanchett) as a museum curator who spied on the Nazi looting operation and single handedly saved 60,000 pieces of art. Although she had a pivotal role in the findings she had a minimal role in the movie. This is an enormous part of WWII history. Imagine if all of those great works had perished at the hands of Nazi sore losers? Other critical information was missing in the film as well. The fact that the soldier who knew German (and overheard captured Nazi soldiers discussing the location of the art) was a German who had escaped the Nazi regime, immigrated to America, and then joined the army to fight against the Germans is a vital fact. Why the film did not tell the whole story is mind boggling.
The point of view of the film naturally was told by non-other than…George’s character George Stout (real name of the character) who spent years in WWI, then joined the army again in WWII mainly to find a way to rescue stolen art. He was tireless in his efforts and wrote to his wife on many occasions describing the dire situation. Later in interviews, he would rarely speak of his heroism—but the other men that were with him did. Why not narrate the story through another characters' perspecitve such as the German born American and a Nazi soldier? Or the French curator? Or letters Stout sent to his wife. Give this story its' due diligence. Yes Hollywood, that would require using a creative team rather than a band of actors who rely on special effects, stagey looks, and their glory days. And don't get me started on all the untold female stories--I will save that for Women's History month which is right around the corner!
Causes Karen Devaney Supports
Eve Ensler and any organization that deals with issues supporting women and children and the advancement of their education.