February 7, 2014, - 2:11 pm
I really liked one of the new movies in theaters today, but hated the other two. I did not see “The Lego Movie,” as the screening was held on the Jewish Sabbath. (Too bad b/c it looks like fun.) But I posted my favorite Lego/movie combination video, below.
* “The Monuments Men“: Of all the films I’ve ever reviewed, I cannot remember getting as many inquiries from friends and readers as I’ve gotten asking me if I saw this movie and what I thought. My answer: yes, and it’s a great movie.
A lot of the mainstream liberal movie critics are bashing this film. Ignore them. It’s fantastic. I really liked and enjoyed this, even if I sharply disagree with its stated premise–that saving art is worth losing American (and American allies’) soldiers’ lives. It is not (at least in my opinion; you might disagree). (I also don’t subscribe to George Clooney’s character’s statement that art isn’t owned by anyone in particular–that it is all of ours. If I owned a Cezanne, I’m not required to open my house to the world to visit, am I?) Still, as modern World War II movies go, this was touching at times, funny at others, and showed Nazi evil (though not that much). For those who won’t see this because of stars George Clooney’s and Matt Damon’s arrogant lefty politics, I hear ya, and I don’t blame you for not wanting to help their movies make money. But it’s still a great movie.
During the Iraq War, Rush Limbaugh inaccurately declared on his nationally syndicated radio show that, during World War II, we never spared buildings and redirected bombing to protect art. When I heard that, I shouted at the radio, “um, wrong.” I’d seen the long, boring documentary, “The Rape of Europa,” in which soldiers who worked for the unit that did exactly that, explained that they shielded some strategic Nazi installations to save art. As you probably know, the movie is about the “Monuments Men,” the real-life unit of American (and some Allied) soldiers, who were actually older men of various art backgrounds. They were inducted into the Army to protect museums and churches housing great artworks and sculptures from Allied bombings and to return art stolen by the Nazis from Jews to their rightful owners. I have not read the book of the same name, but I understand that this fictional movie “based on a true story” is loosely based on the book.
One scene brought a tear to my eyes: it is Christmas Eve, and one of the Monuments Men, Bill Murray, is taking a shower in a tent. Meanwhile, in another tent, another Monuments Man (Bob Balaban) plays a record album (remember those?) with a recorded message from his family. He plays it on the camp’s loudspeaker, and it features his wife wishing him and everyone well and a “Merry Christmas.” Then, she sings, “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas.” Bill Murray stops his shower to listen and has a tear in his eye. It’s a very touching moment. (Not mentioned in the movies is that the Jewish Welfare Board–a Jewish organization founded to help Jewish-American and Gentile-American soldiers during the various American wars–provided the recording booth and equipment and the records. I have a few of them in my collection of US-Jewish military memorabilia.) Another great scene features a German Jewish immigrant to the U.S. who has enlisted in the Army (Dimitri Leonidas as “Sam Epstein”) and his interaction with captured German soldiers.
The acting in this movie is terrific. Everyone from Cate Blanchett (as a French woman who is connected to the underground/partisans) to John Goodman to, yes, Clooney and Damon, displays excellent acting chops. While the movie is a little bit slow and confusing at first, it quickly heats up to suspense and drama. And when it’s not occupied by those, it’s funny and poignant. It’s also a bit of mystery/adventure and caper film. And, overall, it’s an enjoyable World War II movie.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Vampire Academy“: I’m sick and tired of the teen vampire love story stuff. It’s been done to death. Um, “Twilight” movies, anyone? And, this time around, it’s as stupid and boring as ever (and confusing). This junk makes the “Twilight” movies look downright Shakespearean. And the movie posters bear the “charming” tagline, “They Suck At School.”
The movie takes place at a teen vampire academy, populated by the good vampires (called, the “Moroi”) and their half-vampire, half-human protectors (called “Dhampirs”). The good vampires and their protectors must fight off the evil vampires (called, the “Strigoi”). Almost everyone at the vampire academy looks like a young supermodel (there is only one ugly vampire–I guess she’s what they call “diversity”). The movie focuses on a vampire princess orphan and her protector (Zoe Deutch, who looks like a cross between Rose Byrne and Jordana Brewster). Someone is killing the princess’ cat and playing other tricks against her and the protector. They must find out who it is and why.
Not that I cared. This very uninteresting, unexciting movie is dull and a waste of time. And it has a weird lesbian vampire-drinking-dhampir-blood vibe with constant scenes of the princess vampire drinking blood out of the dhampir protector’s neck and the dhampir making orgasmic noises. Um, no thank you. This movie is aimed at teen girls, but if I had a teen daughter, I wouldn’t want her to see it. It’s gross–a lot of blood. And just plain dumb.
Watch the trailer . . .
* “Gloria“: Just awful. A Chilean movie (with English subtitles) about a post-middle-age, divorced cat lady, Gloria, who is seeking a date and sex. She meets a formerly fat guy who had stomach-stapling surgery and begins a sexual relationship with him. But he is constantly leaving her for his daughters and ex-wife who rely on him for money and help. Then, she dances at a disco to the Spanish version of the ’80s hit song, “Gloria” (originally sung by the late Laura Branigan). The end.
Yes, this is actually a “movie.” I know–incredible. I could not have been more bored and disgusted. Slow, boring, pointless and chock full of more frontal nudity and crotch shots of this post-middle-age chubby zaftig chick than I shall ever need to see. Ever.
A time bandit that stole two hours of my life I’ll never get back. Dreksville.
Watch the trailer . . .
Since I didn’t see “The Lego Movie,” I post this–my favorite use of Lego with movies–instead:
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