Tag Archives: george clooney

Quickie: The Monuments Men

monuments-men-posterWith the Nazis stealing all the paintings and sculptures they can lay their hands on, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) enlists a crack team to help the Allies reclaim the stolen art.

Trying to find new and interesting stories to tell about World War II may seem like a bit of a stretch, but with The Monuments Men, George Clooney has done just that. So just how he’s managed to turn it into such a mediocre film is somewhat of a mystery.

Clooney has assembled quite the cast, including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin, but many of them feel underutilised and underdeveloped. We’re led to believe they have some kind of history together but this is never explored, and as such we never really care about what happens to them.

The plot also feels somewhat disjointed and lacks cohesion. It flits back and forth between different plot threads, none of which ever really grab your attention and struggles to find a balance between a lighthearted and serious tone. It even descends into some good ol’ fashioned American flag waving by the end.

There is some fun to be had, however, and there are some nice interchanges between some of the characters, with Bill Murray and Bob Balaban probably the standouts. The period detail is also excellent and helps create a really believable setting.

The Monuments Men recalls classic war movies but ultimately fails to have similar dramatic or emotional impact. Great concept, poor execution. Sorry George.

2 and a half pigeons2.5/5 pigeons

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Why Gravity’s Brilliance is Depressing

Gravity is a fantastic film. Sure, it may have a few issues here and there but it’s an experience few other films can match. Visually it’s an absolute masterpiece and made me realise why I love the cinema so much. However, this also made me a little depressed.

After I watched Gravity, I realised that once it disappears from cinemas in the next month or so (it’ll have already disappeared in most other countries), it will likely never be experienced in quite the same way.

As we all know, some if not most films are better at the cinema, especially action films with big set pieces. They can still be immensely enjoyable at home on a smaller screen but nothing quite beats an enormous cinema screen with full surround sound. So much of Gravity is about becoming completely immersed in the experience and being in the cinema allows that. Put the film on a small screen and it will lose much of what makes it what it is. Sat in a dark cinema, you’re effectively there with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney floating miles above the Earth but sat at home with various other distractions, that level of immersion is a lot less likely.

In the future, cinemas may well dust it off and give it another run as part of a showcase or anniversary of something or other, but for the most part it will be relegated to DVD and Blu-ray viewings, and I suspect it simply won’t be anywhere near as good.

Of course this can be applied to pretty much every film, and there are many that I’ve watched at home and can only imagine how much better it would have been on the big screen. For example, I’m very jealous that I wasn’t able to see Kubrick’s 2001 or Ridley Scott’s Alien at the cinema; those are just two films that I imagine would be unbelievable when seen on a huge screen.

It just hit me with Gravity that much of what makes this film so great will soon be lost, and that’s a little sad.

Are there any films that you think really only work at the cinema or that you really wish you’d have the opportunity to watch when they first came out?

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Film Review: Gravity

GRAVITY

During a routine spacewalk, astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) are caught up in debris caused by a Russian missile strike on a defunct spacestation. Stranded above the Earth and running low on oxygen, they must do what they can to survive.

There’s not much point in talking about Gravity without starting with how it looks. From the opening shot to the moments the credits role, the film is a technical marvel. It’s freakin’ gorgeous.

Director Alfonso Cuarón initially wanted to make Gravity a fair few years ago but was not satisfied that technology was advanced enough to take his vision to the big screen. However, with various technological advancements, was finally able to make the film he wanted to make, and to stunning effect.

Never before has the line between CGI and live action been quite so blurred. The teams at Framestore and Prime Focus have done an amazing job and the biggest compliment I can pay them is that it made me genuinely believe the whole thing was filmed in space rather than Pinewood and Shepperton Studios in London.

For a setting so vast, the attention to detail is staggering (you’ll not find anything about factual inaccuracies here). From Sandra Bullock nonchalantly brushing past debris during a spacewalk to the inch perfect shot composition, Gravity is a film that is so meticulous in its construction yet so simple and natural in its presentation.

Floating high above the Earth, there is no up, no down; everything just revolves and spins in zero-gravity and its a genuinely immersive experience. You really feel as if you’re floating there with them, and part of that is due to the 3D. I’m no fan of 3D whatsoever but it feels so intrinsic to the overall effect of Gravity that I would urge everyone to cough up the extra cash and give it a whirl in 3D. It’s not gimmicky or distracting; it just really helps convey the vastness of space.

It’s not all style, though, and thematically there’s plenty going on. There are themes of rebirth, loss, hope and even evolution. At time it also clearly uses Kubrick’s 2001 as inspiration.

GRAVITY

Clooney and Bullock are the leads here, and to be honest, they’re pretty much the only characters in the film. Bullock takes centre stage, however, and delivers a superb performance. She’s fine when Clooney’s wise-cracking at her, but it’s the times when she’s on her own that stand out as she really helps convey her loneliness and helplessness.

The film isn’t perfect, though. It’s easy to get blinded by the visual splendour of the film, but I had a few (minor) issues. The dialogue, Clooney’s in particular, is a little on the corny side and does briefly pull you out of the experience. It sometimes feel like a George Clooney character rather than a character played by George Clooney. My only other gripe is that the story is a little repetitive. It occasionally felt like a series of set pieces rather than a fluid story, each time something else going wrong and putting the astronauts in danger. Repeat to fade.

These really are only slight issues though. Gravity is a film that should not be missed and on a technical level deserves to be mentioned alongside films such as Metropolis2001Titanic, etc. So do yourself a favour; find the biggest screen possible, sit back and just drink it in.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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Guest Post – From Dusk Till Dawn

Mark from Marked Movies is the author of the latest Guest Post for Horror Movie Month. He takes a look at Tarantino-Clooney vampire flick From Dusk Till Dawn. A huge thank you to Mark for letting me use his review; go check out his site, it’s a belter. If you want to have something featured in Horror Movie Month, email me on chris1039@hotmail.com.

From Dusk Till DawnDirector: Robert Rodriguez.
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino.
Starring: George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Tom Savini, Fred Williamson, Michael Parks, John Saxon, Kelly Preston, John Hawkes.

Before their collaboration on the “Grindhouse” double-bill, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez joined up to do this crime/horror picture. Both Tarantino and Rodriguez’s choice actors also join the show, with the inclusion of a pre-stardom George Clooney.

Seth and Richie Gecko (George Clooney & Quentin Tarantino) are two murderous bank robbers on the run and fleeing for safety to a nightclub in Mexico called the “Titty Twister” which is reportedly a safe haven for criminals. To get there they kidnap preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu) who are travelling in their motor home. Once they reach the club though, they soon realise that when the sun goes down, they have more to deal with at the hands (and teeth) of bloodthirtsy vampires.

If this sounds rediculous or over-the-top then thats because it is. The film starts in true Tarantino fashion with the two criminal brothers dressed in black suits similiar to “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs” and spouting equally impressive dialogue. This however, changes abruptly about half way in and becomes nothing more than a horror B-movie – obviously the work of Rodriguez. As much as this is quite fun, it jars with the cool and dialogue laden beggining. It’s a transition that’s not a very smooth one and feels like two different films cut and pasted together. This a shame really, because the first half of the film is up there with Tarantino’s best stuff. I would have much preffered it if he had just completed the film in that similiar style. What I was most impressed with was the effortless performance of a cool-headed but dangerous killer from George Clooney, who at this time in his career was just fresh from his “E.R.” scrubs. He is absolutely brilliant and this was just the beginning of several fitting performances from Clooney in the future.

There’s no denying that is an enjoyable gore fest with wonderful dialogue but I couldn’t help but wonder what might have been.

* * * 1/2

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