February 1, 2008, - 4:10 pm
Weekend Box Office: Go to This Movie Over Your Dead Body; Great Film on Hitler’s Holocaust Art Plundering
By Debbie Schlussel
Not much new this weekend at the box office. “The Eye,” starring Jessica Alba, an adaptation of a Japanese thriller/horror film, was not screened for critics. That’s usually a strong sign it stinks. I will try to review it for you over the weekend.
* “Over Her Dead Body“: If fart jokes and stupid humor in a lame chick flick is your thing, this is your movie.
Eva Longoria Parker proves that she can play on-screen the exact same character she plays on TV’s “Desperate Housewives.” Oh, the range of this actress who plays a high maintenance bride killed on her wedding day, when she’s crushed by an ice sculpture of an angel. The movie is downhill from there. Her former groom-to-be, Paul Rudd, is lifeless and unfunny, as a humorless, weird man who can’t get over his bitchy former love. We’re not sure why.
Longoria comes back to earth as a ghost, but doesn’t know exactly why or what she’s supposed to do. That’s because she talked over the angel who was trying to give instructions. We’ve been there, seen that before. And we liked it better when Warren Beatty was in it, and it was called, “Heaven Can Wait.”
Longoria Parker’s former fiancee consults a failed psychic (the manly Lake Bell), who doubles as a klutzy caterer. Sound dumb enough yet? Longoria Parker, desperate to keep her fiancee to herself, appears to Bell and tries to separate them. But you know what happens in the end. And all live happily ever after.
Predictable, boring (I fell asleep several times, yet missed nothing), and juvenile. A complete waste of time. Guys–don’t allow your wife/girlfriend to drag you to this. You’ll regret it. Guaranteed.
* “The Rape of Europa“: This fascinating, thorough documentary is based on a book of the same title. It not only details Hitler’s deliberate plundering of art from Jews and whole European countries, but also details his failed ambitions as an artist. A great deal of the art was methodically destroyed, as Hitler felt modern art was tasteless and corrupted the people.
Even if you are a student of the Holocaust and/or World War II, you will learn a lot. Did you know that America went out of its way to save European monuments and art, and put our soldiers in harm’s way to do so? America’s military enlisted artists, “Monuments Men,” to direct soldiers on what to spare and where not to bomb.
While that is similar to the debate about American soldiers and museums in Iraq, with archeological finds that were “damaged” or plundered by Iraqis, I’m of the school that winning a war and saving American soldiers should always be the aim, NOT saving art (which seems to be far more important to the makers of this movie than it is to me).
And we see the fate of famous paintings, like the Mona Lisa. We see how the French went out of their way to save various works from the Louvre and smuggle them into the countryside. We meet the French “art resistance” spies who worked for the Nazis at the Louvre, while they secretly reported back to others the fate of various artworks.
A question not asked in the movie, but which should have been, is why the French cared so much about its art, yet so little about its Jews. Sadly, although this movie is fascinating and interesting, its attitude is that saving art is perhaps more important than saving lives (Jewish or not).
We also see the reactions of Jews as they were forced to work in the Nazi warehouses, as they came upon their families belongings, including photos. The photos were lost, as were the humans behind them who were sent to their deaths. “I lost all of my memories of my family,” remarks one Holocaust survivor in a heartbreaking portion of the movie.
And we see the legal fight over paintings seized by the Nazis or state-run museums from Jewish families. The most fascinating–Gustav Klimt’s beautiful, “Gold Portrait of Frau Bloch-Bauer,” the portrait of Jewish woman Adele Blochbauer, which sat in Austria’s state-run museum, and is the subject of a lawsuit by Blochbauer’s niece, Maria Altmann.
Also interesting was the documentation of the gaudy, garish taste of Nazi Hermann Goering in his art collections.
If you love history, this is well worth seeing. It’s playing mostly at arthouse movie theaters. But you need not like art to like and enjoy it.
Tags: actress, Adele Blochbauer, America, America's military, artist, Austria, Debbie Schlussel, Desperate Housewives, Eva Longoria Parker, Gustav Klimt, Heaven Can Wait, Hermann Goering, Hitler, Iraq, Jessica Alba, Maria Altmann, Over Her Dead Body, Paul Rudd, The Eye, the Louvre, Warren Beatty