Wednesday, April 27, 2016

3 (and a bit) Short Paragraphs: The Monuments Men

2014, George Clooney (Leatherheads) -- Netflix

A dilemma of being the guy who downloads movies (i.e. pirate) is that movies of mixed language are difficult to properly watch. Most movies with subtitles come all or nothing. Sure, there are fansubs, sites that build their own subtitles, but I have always found that connecting the right subtitle file with right copy of the movie to be arduous. They almost always have the timing off by a bit, if you even get one that is translated well. So, I wanted to properly rent this movie to see subtitles for only the non-English bits. Try and I might to rent the movie from one of the sources I have at my disposal, Sony and Microsoft, I could not. I could buy the file or the disk, but not rent the digital video. It's a shame when you want to consume something in a legal format, but they put walls up. I miss video stores.

And then it came to Netflix and I was left confused.

This is a WW2 movie, about a collection of old and 4F men with the sole purpose of identifying and saving priceless pieces of art and locations of great historical/architectural importance. As the war was winding down, the Germans were pulling back and taking with them as much of value as they could, often destroying it if they couldn't properly store it. Big pieces and architecture were blown up. Clooney gets the go ahead to build the taskforce, but support is at the minimum -- nobody really wants to help these guys save old paintings. But they persevere and succeed, all the way to Germany.

Confused? Well, of course English, German and French are spoken in the movie. But very little was subtitled in the movie. I have never understood the concept of only sub-titling key scenes. I get keeping the mystery to a plot, but if the language can be understood by someone isn't that already defeating the point of not subtitling it? Either way, I am not sure whether Netflix did a bad job of  subtitling or just followed Hollywood's only-key-scenes idea. So I could have probably lived with the subtitle files I thought were badly done.

That said, I like Clooney movies and I love the premise of the movie, but she fell kind of flat. You have an ensemble cast broken up and sent to key areas in Europe to accomplish key goals. But the tenuous threads connecting these characters is strained to a great degree turning the movie into a bunch of barely connected vignettes. And because of the need to give each of the recognizable faces (Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, etc.) enough screen time, they seemed to invent reasons for the characters to contribute. Again, strained. But I loved the performances and I like Clooney's likeable way of directing a movie. This one just needed some more polish.