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Posts Tagged ‘Jean Dujardin’
Synopsis: Based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel, the movie stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville as a motley crew of art historians, engineers and museum directors recruited to locate and rescue priceless art works stolen by the Nazis. When two members of their team are killed they are no longer observers but active participants in the war.
• Richard: 2/5
• Mark: 3/5
Richard: Mark, this is a wartime comedy. Think Hogan’s Heroes by way of Leonardo Da Vinci and you’ll get the idea. It has some mild laughs — the biggest giggle, for Canadians anyway, comes from the Parisians who blame Matt Damon’s terrible French on having spent too much time in Montreal — but also a great deal of reverence for the art and the work of the real-life monuments men. But what might have been an edgy, exciting look at an under-reported slice of World War II history is reduced to an elegantly directed but somewhat dull film.
Mark: Richard, I was really looking forward to this movie. Three of my major obsessions are George Clooney, Nazis and art, although not necessarily in that order. But you’re right; the movie is kind of a snooze in parts. There are some great scenes, but they don’t quite add up. And at no time did I feel much of a sense of danger, probably because the war is ending and the Germans are already on the run. The great cast is mostly split up during the movie, so the expected camaraderie is absent. But there’s one great reason to see this movie, and that’s the prominent role of prickly nerd Bob Balaban.
RC: The cast is terrific. Balaban is a great actor, and an underused one, so it’s always cool to see him trotted out in anything, but for me Bill Murray shows, once again, in a brief scene in a shower (no spoilers here), how his understated style can move an audience. No problems with the acting, but co-writers Clooney and longtime collaborator Grant Heslov appear to have taken a dose of sentimentality pills before putting pen to paper. The earnest, reverential tone is reinforced by old school pacing that focuses on the character and art over action and a rousing soundtrack that sounds airlifted in from a classic wartime era movie.
MB: Bill Murray, as always, proves that less is indeed more. There’s a quasi-romance between Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett that seemed forced to me, not to mention she wears the ugliest pair of shoes in the history of cinema. But all through the movie there’s a moral dilemma that keeps being rammed down our throats. Is art valuable enough to risk human life for? The movie tells us over and over that it is, but to be honest, Richard, I’m not so sure. And if you’re not sure, the urgency falls apart.
RC: It seems like you noticed Blanchett’s shoes more than the art. Therein lies the movie’s central problem.
MB: Well, I’m more of a modernist anyway. When they tell the story of how the Germans burned the Klees, Braques, and Picassos I nearly wept. This isn’t a bad movie, Richard. I just hoped for a great one.
I root for George Clooney. He has a lot going for him; he’s good looking, has a villa in Italy and is good friends with Sandra Bullock. That’s a lot for anyone, but that’s not why I root for him. I’m on his side because even though he’s a superstar he takes chances.
As an actor he put nipples on Batman, starred in a remake of an obscure Russian sci fi film, played a fox in a Wes Anderson movie and has played the lead in a movie about paranormal goats.
As a director he’s just as edgy. He’s stood behind the camera for a black and white look at Edward R. Murrow’s battle with Senator Joseph McCarthy, an old school football movie set in 1925 and an exposé of backroom politics.
He’s an a-lister who takes chances, and I applaud that which makes me sad to report I didn’t find as much to applaud in his most recent film as actor and director “The Monuments Men.”
Based on the book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” by Robert M. Edsel, the movie stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville as a motley crew of art historians, engineers and museum directors recruited to locate and rescue priceless art works stolen by the Nazis. When two members of their team are killed they are no longer observers but active participants in the war.
Helping in the mission to return the plundered cultural artifacts is Rose Valland (Cate Blanchett), a French art historian and member of the French Resistance who not only aids the Allied art platoon but also tries to work her Parisian charms on Damon’s character.
“The Monuments Men” is a wartime comedy. Think “Hogan’s Heroes” by way of Leonardo Da Vinci and you’ll get the idea. It has some mild laughs (the biggest laugh, for Canadians anyway, comes from the Parisians who blame Matt Damon’s terrible French on having spent too much time in Montreal) but also a great deal of reverence for the art and the work of the real-life Monuments Men. ”People can come back but if you destroy their achievements, their history,” says George L. Stout (Clooney), “they can’t come back from that. That’s why Monuments Men was created.”
The reverential tone is reinforced by old school pacing that focuses on the character and art over action and a rousing soundtrack that sounds air-lifted in from a classic wartime era movie. The cast is uniformly fine and Bill Murray shows, once again in a brief scene in a shower (NO SPOILERS HERE), how his understated style can move an audience.
No problems there, but co-writers Clooney and longtime collaborator Grant Heslov appear to have taken a dose of sentimentality pills before putting pen to paper. What might have been an edgy, exciting look at an underreported slice of World War II history is reduced to an elegantly directed but somewhat dull film.
“The Monuments Men” is an earnestly told story but the lack of any real energy or surprises undermines its effectiveness.
“The Artist,” a new film about old Hollywood, is a silent movie about talking pictures. When we first see star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) in the movie’s film-within-a-film, a title card reads, “I won’t talk! I won’t say a word!” and so it is for the next ninety minutes.
Beginning in Hollywood before the advent of sound, when we first meet Valentin he is a big star, a screen idol who headlines action-adventure movies with melodramatic titles like “The Thief of Her Heart.” A chance encounter with a pretty girl named Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) sets her on the path of movie stardom in the talkies, just as Valentin’s star fades, ruined by his pride and inability to change with the times. Soon the story takes on “Hollywood Babylon” overtones as Valentin becomes a Hollywood castoff. Will the former superstar end up like Karl Dane and Marie Prevost, real life silent stars, now forgotten? Or will he find the humility to reenter the movies?
“The Artist” could have simply been a glossy tribute to the silent age. The details are all there, the luscious black and white photography, classic soundtrack and the old school 4:3 aspect ratio, but the film is much more than that. Director Michel Hazanavicius has made a joyous movie that shows the tricks of modern day cinema aren’t necessary when you have interesting performances, a good story and chemistry.
Shot on Hollywood sound stages and on locations like the Bradbury Building, “The Artist” has an authentic look and feel, but it is the actors that clench the deal. Dujardin shimmers with charisma as he brings echoes of John Gilbert to the screen and Bejo finds the kind of balance of innocence and vamp that elevated the likes of Clara Bow from starlet to It Girl. To paraphrase Norma Desmond, they don’t need dialogue; they have faces! Luckily Hazanavicius allows their faces to do the talking, figuratively, not literally.
Ditto the other members of the star studded cast—John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller and Uggy, who hands in the pluckiest on-screen dog performance since Rin Rin Tin was the canine king of Hollywood.
“The Artist” is a treat, a film that forces the viewer to reexamine how we watch movies. Unlike so many of today’s films that do all the work for you, it allows imagination to become part of the experience. Every time you expect dialogue the movie remains silent which prompts the viewer to connect with the characters and the story in a much different way than we are accustomed to. In doing so it becomes one of the most engaging movies of the year.