The Monuments Men

March 19, 2014 at 8:39 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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The Monuments Men is an ensemble movie starring:

  • George Clooney,
  • Matt Damon,
  • Bill Murray,
  • Cate Blanchett,
  • John Goodman,
  • Bob Balaban,
  • Hugh Bonneville,
  • Jean Dujardin.

With so many stars, it is hard getting everyone enough screen time. So Clooney (Frank Stokes), Damon (James Granger) and Blanchett (Claire Simone) get slightly more time than the others.

The film has the daunting task of telling a story that spans most of Western Europe, and takes place in the last three years of World war II. At times, the film feels like a series of miniatures.

Frank is in charge of small unit charged with recovering art looted by the Nazis. They also try to stop the Nazis stealing more art, as they retreat; and at the end, try to recover stolen art before it the Russians get to it. Claire is a french woman who collaborates with the Nazis in Paris to keep track of where french is sent.

From 1943 onwards, as the tide of war turns, the Germans retreat eastwards, but they take the art works – tens of thousands of them – with them. Even when most of Germany is overrun, there is no sign of the artwork. Eventually, they are found in salt, potassium and copper mines.

The members of the unit are not young men – all the young men were already in combat units. They are not particularly good soldiers: brave, unfit, with 4 weeks of basic training. Two of them are killed, perhaps in circumstances where other younger more experienced men would not. Bonneville’s character – Donald Jeffries – dies in a shootout trying to prevent the Nazis taking a statue by Michelangelo. Dujardin’s character – Jean Claude Clermont – gets caught in the cross-fire between a German patrol and an American patrol; he is lost and blinders in. Their deaths seem so needless.

A film about WWII looted artwork cannot avoid the holocaust. Much of the art was taken from Jews. There is a terrible scene down a mine, amongst looted artwork, there is are two barrels – one full gold rings, and the other full of gold fillings.

A nice history lesson.


Elysium (2013)

August 26, 2013 at 10:25 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see Elysium the other day and it had its moments.

Warning: plot elements revealed.

The first half of the film raises some awkward questions for our time, and the second have is just action.

Max (Matt Damon) is a young man trying to better himself, in a world with a few ‘haves’ and many many ‘have nots’. The ‘haves’ live in a paradise, and everyone else – including Max – is trying to get in. Moral dilemma #1: when resources are limited, how should they be portioned out? In Max’s world, the resources are reserved for a few on a massive man-made satellite named Elysium.

Delacourt (Jody Foster) is charged with protecting the privileges of the privileged few. She is so sure that she is right and that it must be done her way. Moral dilemma #2: does the end justify the means? Delacourt attempts to take over Elysium – to over throw the elected government, to protect it.

Elysium is unpolluted and its technology is ‘like magic’ – particularly the medical technology. This provides the premise for the movie – Max has sustained a lethal dose of radiation in an industrial accident and if he wants to live he must get to Elysium and its medical technology. There are all sorts of complications but he gets there.

Earth is portrayed as a slum – not too surprising given that this is a Neill Blomkamp (director and writer of District 9) film. There seem to be some subtle and not so subtle digs at the South African government.

Max and Delacourt are a bit two dimensional. The villain – Kruger – played a little over-the-top by Sharlto Copley offers some black contrast.

The futuristic gadgets, weaponry and general technology look very real – great special effects. The slums look very real.

Worth seeing in a cinema for the bigger screen and fuller sound.

The Adjustment Bureau

April 13, 2011 at 8:35 am | Posted in Dance Review, Film Review | Leave a comment
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I went to see The Adjustment Bureau the other day, being not sure what to expect, but intrigued by the idea of the an exploration of pre-destiny.

So Matt Damon plays David Norris – a man seemingly set on the road to be the President of the United States – if only he could control his impulses and win a term as a Senator. Then into his life come Elise Sellas, played by Emily Blunt, and he feels fulfilled and wishes to spend the rest of his life with her. But, ‘The Plan’ says that they do not spend their lives together: he becomes senator and eventually President; she becomes the contemporary ballet dancer of her generation and eventuallys the choreographer of the age.

So begins a series of attempts – by the shadowy Adjustment Bureau – to keep them apart. But eventually they end up together.

Terrance Stamp, John Slattery, and Anthony Mackie are members of the bureau who try to keep things to ‘The Plan’. Stamp is the trouble shooter brought in to ‘fix’ things, when Mackie and Slattery are unable to keep things ‘on track’.

Mackie is disallusioned – hints throughout the film that he killed Norris’s father and brother – and ends up helping Norris. This was a concept that was explored: if you ‘believe’ what won’t you do? It is Mackie’s character who helps Norris.

The Adjustment Bureau seems to be a thinly disguised body of angels. And ultimately the film lets the viewer down: there is no confrontation with the ‘Planner’ – no confrontation with God. There is a message from the ‘one who writes the plan’ saying that ‘The Plan’ has been amended to let Norris and Elise stay together. What niggles, is that they were suppose to stay together in all previous iterations of ‘The Plan’: the film sidesteps the ‘infailability of the planner’ corundum. The closing final message is a statement about free-will.

The special effects are very good, and everyone puts in a good performance. There is even some chemistry between Damon and Blunt. I felt Blunt was perfectly cast as Elise; even her dance sequences seemed ‘real’.

The Bourne Ultimatum

September 16, 2007 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Sep 16, 2007 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

The Bourne Ultimatum

The third film in Jason Bourne’s quest to find himself. As usual with these kinds of film – action / thriller – I put my brain into neutral and cruised. The first 80% was one long action sequence and had one of the best fight-in-a-bathroom sequences I have for sometime. It got to the point where I wondered how it would end. How it ended was a bit of a disappointment. Bourne is the product of brain washing – by the flashbacks, using some Gregory-Peck-Manchurian-Candidate techniques. Despite the best that Bourne’s former colleagues can throw at him, Bourne wins through some spectacular fights and crashes. In the end, it felt like Die Hard (1,2,3 or 4.0) mets the Manchurian Candidate.


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