Tag Archives: John Goodman

The Monuments Men

17 Feb

The-Monuments-Men-UK-Quad-Poster

Synopsis:  Directed by George Clooney and based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

 CAST

George Clooney (Frank Stokes)

 Matt Damon (James Granger)

 Bill Murray (Richard Campbell)

 John Goodman (Walter Garfield)

 Jean Dujardin (Jean Claude Clermont)

 Bob Balaban (Preston Savitz)

 Hugh Bonneville (Donald Jeffries)

 Dimitri Leonidas (Sam Epstein),

 Cate Blanchett (Claire Simone)

 Holger Handtke (Colonel Wegner)

REVIEW: George Clooney has directed a likeable film, in the old school, familiar style reminiscent say of a Guns of Navorone. George, (Frank Stokes),  leads his band of men through Europe during the last days of World War II. His job, as assigned by President Franklin Roosevelt, was to find and return the world’s art and cultural treasures, stolen by the Nazis under Hitler’s orders. It reminds us that Hitler didn’t just want to kill the Jews but destroy their culture and any knowledge of their existence off the face of the Earth. Most of the art was owned by private Jewish collectors, and Jewish families, past down generation to generation, the art priceless, the cost of lives, infamous, heinous and we must never forget the result of the Nazi holocaust.

In the telling of the tale, Clooney treaded the fine line of heavy handedness and lightheartedness. Given the implications of the subject matter these are hard issues to navigate and in this regard the movie becomes uneven. The film remains buoyant by the all star cast, Cate Blanchett as Claire Simone a Parisian who is forced to document every art piece taken by the Germans, also works for the French Resistance. Her performance transcends the material she is given and you understand her as she trusts no one, even Matt Damon, (James Granger), who tries to enlist her help for the Monuments men. Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Jean Dujardin add to the light heartedness of the characters, their mission is clear and they are all experts in their creative fields. Each one has an ironic sense of duty vs. reality.  Murray and Balaban are experts at playing irony and are a joy to watch. John Goodman is always winning and teaming him with Jean Dujardin works on so many levels.

Hugh Bonneville, (Donald Jeffries) is the British counterpart who works with the Monuments Men, and is a friend of Clooney’s. Clooney enlists him as a way of saving him from a fall from grace he has had with bouts of alcoholism. Bonneville, who is so wonderful in Downton Abbey, adds certain class to the film as he tries to recover Michelangelo’s,  Madonna and Child statue.

The story becomes a race against time as the Monuments Men  must recover the last of the art before the Russian Army takes claim to it for war reparations caused by the lives lost by the war. The story could have been more involving, the pace perhaps a little quicker as the sense of urgency, however, the Monuments Men is a good story and deserves a look-see just to be reminded of what could have been, if not for brave men and freedom fighters, like these.

RECCOMENDED:camera-film-icon11camera-film-icon11camera-film-icon11camera-film-icon

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ARGO

26 Oct

Synopsis: A dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran. The film also satirizes the Hollywood film community and what it took for the CIA to get their help in the operation.

CAST

Ben Affleck…………………………………Tony Mendez (CIA Operative)

Bryan Cranston……………………………………………….Jack O’Donnell

Alan Arkin………………………………………………………..Lester Siegel

John Goodman……………………….John Chambers (make-up artist)

Clea DuVall…………………………………………………………..Cora Lijek

Kyle Chandler……………………………………………..Hamilton Jordan

Victor Garber……………………………………………Kenneth D. Taylor

Tate Donovan……………………………………………………Bob Anders

Michael Parks…….Jack Kirby (Comic Book/Story Board Artist)

Tom Lenk………………………………………………………………….Rodd

Christopher Stanley……………………………………………Tom Ahern

Taylor Schilling…………………………………………Christine Mendez

 Ashley Wood…………………………………………………………..Beauty

Sheila Vand……………………………………………………………..Sahar

Chris Messina………………………………………………………..Malinov

Richard Kind………………………………………………………Max Klein

Titus Welliver………………………………………………………Jon Bates

Rory Cochrane…………………………………………………..Lee Schatz

Devansh Mehta………………………………………………Matt Sanders

Omid Abtahi……………………………………………………………..Reza

Scoot McNairy………………………………………………..Joe Stafford

Kerry Bishé…………………………………………………Kathy Stafford

 Christopher Denham………………………………………….Mark Lijek

Karina Logue………………………………………..Elizabeth Ann Swift

Bob Gunton……..Cyrus Vance (United States Secretary of State)

Philip Baker Hall………………Warren Christopher (Deputy S.O.S.)

Adrienne Barbeau………………………………………………………Nina

Fouad Hajji…………………………………………………………..Komiteh

President Jimmy Carter…………Himself (uncredited voice-over)

Review:  The film directed by its’ star, Ben Affleck, is based on the true events that occurred during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Jimmy Carter was President when the American Embassy in Iran was seized during the Iranian Revolution by militants, taking sixty hostages as six American Ambassadors, barely made it out. The six Ambassadors took refuge in the Canadian Embassy and were stuck there hoping they wouldn’t get caught. The Ayatollah Khomeini, who was the leader of the Iranian people at the time, had blamed the ill’s of the country on American intervention.

Victor Garber plays Ken Taylor, the head of the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, and knowingly puts himself and his family at risk by taking in the Ambassadors before they are found out. The CIA works feverishly to intervene and even brings in Tony Mendez (Affleck), their chief operative in charge of hostage extraction to figure out how to get the six out.

Mendez calls on his friend the make-up artist for the Planet of The Ape movies, John Chambers, who has helped the CIA with cover identities, to help here. Chambers is the one who comes up with the idea that Affleck would go in an as a Canadian film location scout. He also came up with the idea that the six hostages can have fake Canadian passports and pose as production crew and director. Goodman introduces Mendez to aging film producer Lester Siegel, (Arkin) who buys into the lie and uses the Hollywood machine to fake a fake movie production.  The film they use is a science fiction script called ARGO and they even set-up a fake Hollywood production office with phone, movie posters and files. I might add the irony of all this is that it is paid for by the U.S. Government. Goodman and Arkin add a light-hearted and often hilarious touch to the art of Hollywood film makers and producers.

The film is a taut, edge of your seat drama, that recreates actual events as they happen. You have to ask yourself how taken by America’s Hollywood the Iranians are that they fell for the cover hook, line and sinker.  The film is a winner by any standard and Affleck possibly directed the finest film of the year. It will be a disappointment if this film doesn’t pick-up a nomination for best-picture or best supporting actor for Arkin. Arkin is brilliant at sarcasm, when a collegue asks him what ARGO is about he growls, “ARGO f*&%$k yourself!” Which does become a wink and a nod between Mendez and his Hollywood friends.

Stay for the end credits because there are pictures of the Actors and the their real world counterparts shown side by side as President Jimmy Carter, in Voice-Over, discusses the actual ARGO operation and the facts surrounding the events.

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