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Monuments Men Review

I could hardly wait to see Monuments Men, a movie about the Nazis stealing and hiding art, with a cast full of charmers George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, and a very-smiley Frenchman.

The poor rotten tomatoes score of 33% (an average of many critics' reviews)  was lamentable, but I was undeterred.  I usually wouldn't waste my time on a movie with an RT score of less than 60%, but George Clooney! Bill Murray!  Great art! True important history! I felt compelled to go see it.

And it was fun. But oddly, consistently, lukewarm throughout. You should go, if only for the art history, just go with low expectations.

The movie is full of memorable and well-played moments, but the main problem is the lack of larger narrative arc and overall failure to tell a good story. This should be a treasure hunt movie, a detective movie, a race against the Russians movie, a movie with character development, a movie with palpable tension and suspense and a sense of grandeur. It doesn't even reach for these things.

And yet, it's got charm, and rolls pleasurably and relaxingly along, producing its WWII movie expected victorious gracious American heros' ending.

Much of this story is so nutty a screenwriter would have been embarrassed to make it up. But those Nazis, they were really that nutty, and all the really crazy stuff in the film seems to have been true.

But if you are looking for a truly great (but seriously disturbing) WWII true-to-history movie with a star studded cast, I'd recommend Kenneth Branagh's Conspiracy (available on Netflix). Conspiracy is a re-enactment of a key meeting of Nazi leaders to decide about the fate of the Jews. It is extremely well done, gripping, and full of powerful performances. Watching the unusually-uncaricatured Nazis in beaurocratic discussion gave me a much deeper understanding of history and psychology than any other war movie.  


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