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In The Baby Boomer World Encompassed By Boomerpdx, Who Expected This?



Waiting a few weeks to review a new movie isn’t the sort of thing that pumps box office numbers.

You want to hit it on the first night, or even better score a ticket to a preview showing.

Timely reviews push new movies hard, good and bad. Good reviews draw fans to see if they agree how good, bad reviews draw fans to see how bad.

You thought bad reviews keep fans away? Not for The Monuments Men.

Whatever you’ve heard, take a chance. Is it great? Is it horrible? Or worst of all, somewhere in between?

This reviewer was an Army man for two years and a museum man for twenty. A little bias? Maybe. Over that time I learned one man’s treasure may be another man’s trash, but when a museum collects the bag it becomes treasure.

The Monuments Men is all treasure, but there’s more.

Call me old fashioned, but it’s a relief seeing sixty year old men look like sixty year old men. Bill Murray and John Goodman give the best hang-dog expressions seen on modern film.

While hardly anyone celebrates the effects of age in movie stars, these two let it ride. They are who we thought they are, actors unafraid of what the camera might find. A wrinkle? A sagging chin? Instead of an OMG moment and a CGI fixer, there they are, sixty-something guys staring at the audience without flinching.

Throughout The Monuments Men, director George Clooney shows museum trivia. He did his homework when art handlers get reminded to wear white gloves; one museum worker is suspicious of another’s motives; all are slightly nuts about art pieces and their place in civilization.

Then they see the scope of the biggest nutcase hoard of stolen art. In an odd way Hitler’s idea for his museum is what collectors do all the time. If possible, they accept everything available and sort it later.

Writers George Clooney and Grant Heslov show their research by including enough museum minutiae to satisfy a roomful of curators. These are people who don’t let things go because the pieces might fit together in another context.

They make you ask, “Is a lost puzzle piece a bigger problem than a lost puzzle?”

In a film populated by baby boomer aged actors playing soldiers in WWII, the fathers of the baby boom, nothing is lost. We see the go-to hell exchange where a colonel in the real Army tells the monuments men no art piece is worth a death notice home to any parents.

We see the moment of loss in a MASH tent where Dr. Grant Heslov works the triage.

Waiting to see The Monuments Men after the hoopla of the opening weekend was difficult. My Army job was a medic, my museum job collections manager. Through that filter, the museums and military aspects of the story rang true for this dark time in our history. Clooney reminded us of this dark time by keeping the monuments men working in so many dark places, just like real museum storage units.

Seeing the movie at the local Cinetopia, my first time inside, shocked me. What do you get for your $16 dollar ticket? Most times you go to the theater, walk in, sit down, then walk out when the movie’s over. At Progress Ridge Cinetopia you walk down a hallway/gallery of nonobjective art on the way to the show.

In an extra layer layer The Monuments Men couldn’t have staged it better, I passed the sort of art the Nazis burned. Works by Aimee Dieterle, Lynne Bowden, and Omid Mira acted as an in-your-face moment. If WWII had turned out the other way, their art wouldn’t exist.

After leaving the theater and walking the gallery again, their paintings held a special place on the wall. They belong there. Out of the reach of flame throwers, they belong. They reach out to us beyond the opinion of a failed Austrian artist.

It was an unexpected extra worth the price of admission to The Monuments Men.

What’s next for Team Clooney? He, Heslov, and Ben Affleck won Oscars last year for producing Argo. They need to bookend The Monuments Men the way Band of Brothers did with Europe and the War in the Pacific.

The Pacific War movie needs to be more than the atomic bomb, more than island hopping, yet keep those elements in place. It needs an idealistic hero who chooses to use his scientific genius to either help mankind, or help kill enemies more efficiently.

It needs an awkward love story that speaks to a shared need.

The villain would be a career Army man who takes the young hero under his wing to steal his ideas. The movie backstory would include an war-profiteering family, an institute of higher learning, and the rigors of Army life.

That The Monuments Men got made at all is a great push for the next great WWII In The Pacific movie.

Finally, to those who say they feel like they’re being asked to sign a petition after a George Clooney movie: Use the feeling to make a real change. Sign that petition in your mind and you’ll be fine.






About David Gillaspie


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    • David Gillaspie says:

      I enjoy languages for the challenge of interpreting comments. My French classes lead me to this translation:

      “Thank you America for liberating France from the evil Nazi grip, and for trying to collect the paintings those criminals stole from out museums and citizens.

      “Most of all, thank you to George Clooney for having enough pull to make a movie like Monuments Men. I hope Mr. Clooney, or Mr. Affleck, find a way to reach David Gillaspie and discuss his block buster script about the end of the War in the Pacific. Connecting historical eras to modern times is a way to show our young people how they’ve come to live the lives they lead.”

      Any other translators want to take a shot?

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