REVIEW: THE MONUMENTS MEN

CAST
George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Matt Damon (Green Zone)
Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
John Goodman (Red State)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Hugh Bonneville (Blow Dry)
Bob Balaban (License To Wed)
Dimitri Leonidas (Sinbad)
Grant Heslov (True Lies)
In 1943 during World War II, the Allies are making good progress driving back the Axis powers in Italy. However, Frank Stokes (George Clooney) persuades the American President that victory will have little meaning if the artistic treasures of Western civilization are lost in the fighting. Stokes is directed to assemble an Army unit nicknamed the “Monuments Men”, comprising seven museum directors, curators, and art historians to both guide Allied units and search for stolen art to return it to its rightful owners.
Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett), a curator in occupied France, is forced to assist Nazi officers like Viktor Stahl (Justus von Dohnányi) to oversee the theft of art for either Adolf Hitler’s proposed Führermuseum in Linz, or as the personal property of senior commanders like Herman Goering. While she is nearly arrested for helping her Maquis brother unsuccessfully recapture such items, all seems lost when she discovers that Stahl is taking all of her gallery’s contents to Germany as the Allies approach Paris. Simone runs to the railyard to confront Stahl, but can only watch as Stahl departs aboard the train carrying the precious cargo, standing defiantly as he futilely fires his pistol at her.
Stokes’s unit finds its work frustrated by its own side’s officers in the field, who refuse to endanger their own troops for the sake of his mission. James Granger (Matt Damon) finds that Simone will not cooperate with those whom she suspects want to confiscate the stolen art for their own country. The unit splits up to cover more ground, with varying degrees of success. Donald Jeffries (Hugh Bonneville) of the British Army sneaks into Bruges, which is still occupied by the Germans, at night to try to save a statue of the Madonna and Child by Michelangelo. He is killed attempting to stop Colonel Wegner from taking it away.
Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) and Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) learn that a Belgian panel set of religious artwork (the Van Eyck altarpiece) was removed by the priests of Ghent Cathedral for safekeeping, but their truck was stopped and the panels taken. Eventually, purely by chance, they find and arrest Viktor Stahl, hiding as a farmer, when they identify the paintings in his house as masterpieces, at least one stolen from the Rothschild Collection. Walter Garfield (John Goodman) and Jean Claude Clermont (Jean Dujardin) get lost in the country side and blunder into a firefight. Clermont is mortally wounded and dies when Garfield is unable to find medical help. Meanwhile, Simone reconsiders when Granger shows her the Nero Decree, which orders the destruction of all German possessions if Hitler dies or Germany falls, and sees Granger return a painting looted from a Jewish family sent to the death camps to its rightful place in their empty home. She provides a comprehensive ledger she has compiled that provides valuable information on the stolen art and the rightful owners.
Even as the team learns that the artwork is being stored in various mines and castles, it also learns that it must now compete against the Soviet Union, which is seizing artwork as war reparations. Meanwhile, Colonel Wegner is systematically destroying whole art caches. Eventually, the team has some success, as it discovers at least one mine with over 16,000 art pieces, as well as grotesque finds like barrels of gold teeth extracted from victims of the death camps. In addition, it also captures the entire gold reserves of the Nazi German national treasury.
Finally, the team finds a mine in Austria that appears to have been demolished. However, the team discovers that only the entrances were blocked by the locals in order to prevent the Nazis destroying the contents. The team evacuates as much artwork as possible, including the sculpture Jeffries died trying to defend, before the Soviets arrive to take control of what is to become part of the Soviet zone of occupation.
Stokes reports back to President Truman that the team has recovered vast quantities of artwork and various other culturally significant items. As he requests to stay in Europe to oversee further searching and restoration, Truman asks Stokes if his efforts were worth the lives of the men that he lost. Stokes replies that they were. Truman then asks if, thirty years from now, anyone will remember that these men died for a piece of art. In 1977, the elderly Stokes (Nick Clooney), replies “Yeah,” while he takes his grandson to see Michelangelo’s Madonna sculpture.
The story is real and the war ending and moving towards Russia. It is the search for the Art which the Nazis have stolen and the band of men who are searching for it. The main cast are well known especially George Clooney who has also produced the film. The film isn’t fast but jogs along at a reasonable pace, interspersed with humour. Finding the precious pieces of Art through Bruges and northern Germany made me as thrilled as it did the Monument Men. This is a film that we will watch a lot.

REVIEW: UP IN THE AIR

CAST
George Clooney  (The Ides of March)
Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel)
Anna Kendrick (Into The Woods)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Amy Morton (Blue Bloods)
Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men)
J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man)
Sam Elliott (Hulk)
Danny McBride (The Pineapple Express)
Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover)
Chris Lowell (Veronica Mars)
Adam Rose (Santa Clarita Diet)
Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) works for an HR consultancy firm which specialises in termination assistance, and makes his living travelling to workplaces across the United States in order to conduct company layoffs and firings on behalf of employers. Ryan also delivers motivational speeches, using the analogy “What’s In Your Backpack?” to extoll the virtues of a life free of burdensome relationships with people as well as things. Ryan relishes his perpetual travels. His personal ambition is to become only the seventh person to earn ten million frequent flyer miles with American Airlines. While traveling, he meets another frequent flyer named Alex (Vera Farmiga) and they begin a casual relationship.
Ryan is unexpectedly called back to his company’s offices in Omaha, Nebraska. An ambitious, freshly-graduated new hire, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) is promoting a plan to cut costs by conducting layoffs via videoconferencing. Ryan argues that Natalie knows nothing about the actual process, live or not, and does not know how to handle upset people. He plays the role of a fired employee to demonstrate her inexperience. His boss (Jason Bateman) assigns him to take Natalie with him on his next round of terminations to show her the ropes, much to his annoyance.
George Clooney in Up in the Air (2009)
As they travel together and become better acquainted, Natalie questions Ryan’s philosophy, but he is satisfied with his lifestyle. During the trip, Natalie is shattered when her boyfriend unceremoniously dumps her by text message. Ryan and Alex try to comfort her. Natalie later lectures Ryan about his refusal to consider a commitment to Alex in spite of their obvious compatibility, and becomes infuriated; she apologizes later, but soon afterwards they are both ordered back to Omaha to begin implementing Natalie’s program. There are problems during a test run; one laid off person breaks down in tears before the camera, and she is unable to comfort him.
Instead of returning immediately to Omaha, Ryan convinces Alex to accompany him to his younger sister’s wedding. He learns that the reason the couple had him take photos of a cutout picture of them in various places was because they cannot afford a honeymoon trip. When the groom gets cold feet, Ryan’s older sister talks him into using his motivational skills to persuade him to go through with it. Although this runs counter to Ryan’s personal philosophy, he successfully argues that the important moments in life are rarely unshared. The wedding goes off without any further hitches.
George Clooney and Anna Kendrick in Up in the Air (2009)
Ryan begins having second thoughts about his own life. As he starts to deliver his “What’s In Your Backpack?” speech at a convention in Las Vegas, he realizes he no longer believes it, and walks off the stage. On an impulse, he flies to Alex’s home in Chicago. When she opens the door, he is stunned to discover she is a married woman with children; Ryan leaves without saying a word. She later tells him on the phone that her family is her real life and he is simply an escape. Again, he ends the conversation wordless. On his flight home, the crew announces that Ryan has just crossed the ten million mile mark. The airline’s chief pilot (Sam Elliott) comes out of the cockpit to meet Ryan. He notes that Ryan is the youngest person to reach the milestone. When asked where he is from, Ryan can only respond “here”. Back in his office, Ryan calls the airline to transfer five hundred thousand miles each to his sister and brother-in-law, enough for them to fly around the world for their honeymoon. His boss tells Ryan that a woman he and Natalie fired has killed herself, and that an upset Natalie has quit via text message. The company also puts the remote-layoff program on hold because of related concerns.
George Clooney and Vera Farmiga in Up in the Air (2009)
Natalie applies for a job in San Francisco, the city she was originally offered a job before following her now ex-boyfriend to Omaha instead. The interviewer is impressed by her qualifications and a glowing recommendation from Ryan, and hires her.The film concludes with Ryan standing in front of a vast destination board, looking up, and letting go of his luggage.
The acting is exemplary; Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are perfectly cast as muse and apprentice respectively.  The movie is sad at times, funny at others, never giving right or wrong answers just an observational peice in the study of life.

REVIEW: BATMAN & ROBIN (1997)

CAST
George Clooney (The Perfect Storm)
Chris O’ Donnell (Hawaii Five-O)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction)
Alicia Silverstone (Clueless)
Michael Gough (Corpse bride)
Pat Hingle (Shaft)
John Glover (Smallville)
Elle Macpherson (The Edge)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Jeep Swenson (The Bad Pack)
Ralf Moeller (The Scorpion King)
Coolio (Daredevil Directors Cut)
Jesse Ventura (The Running Man)
Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone
Kimberly Scott (The Abyss)
Batman and Robin fail to stop Mr. Freeze from stealing a cache of diamonds. They learn that Freeze was once a scientist named Victor Fries, who became dependent on a diamond-powered subzero suit following an accident in a cryogenics lab while working to save his wife, Nora, from a terminal illness called MacGregor’s Syndrome.
Meanwhile, botanist Dr. Pamela Isley is experimenting with the strength serum “Venom” to create mutant plants capable of fighting back against mankind. She is angry that her senior colleague Dr. Jason Woodrue used her Venom to transform a diminutive prisoner into the “super soldier” Bane. She refuses to partner with Woodrue so he tries to kill her with animal-plant toxins and chemicals, causing her to transform into the beautiful Poison Ivy. She kills Woodrue with a venomous kiss and vows to establish botanical supremacy over the world.
Alfred Pennyworth’s niece Barbara Wilson makes a surprise visit from England and is invited to stay at Wayne Manor. Later, Barbara finds the Batcave and creates her own crime-fighting persona with the help of a computer simulation of Alfred. The real Alfred is suffering from MacGregor’s Syndrome. He is, however, in stage 1, for which Mr. Freeze has developed a cure despite being unable to cure his wife’s condition because it is too advanced.
Ivy arrives in Gotham City with Bane as her henchman. She interrupts a Wayne Enterprises press conference at the Gotham Observatory where a giant telescope is being unveiled. Ivy demands Bruce Wayne use his fortune to safeguard the natural environment at the expense of millions of human lives, and Bruce refuses. Ivy appears at the Gotham Botanical Gardens fundraiser, seducing everyone present with her pheromone dust, including the Dynamic Duo, who are there to protect a diamond from Mr. Freeze. When Freeze crashes the event Ivy is instantly captivated by his “ruthless charm”. Freeze is captured by Batman and detained at the Arkham Asylum but is released by Ivy.
Ivy turns off Nora Fries’ life support and makes Freeze believe Batman did it, persuading him that they should destroy Batman along with the society that created him. They plan to turn the observatory’s new telescope into a giant freeze ray to kill all humanity to allow Ivy’s mutant plants to take over the world.
Meanwhile, Robin is under Ivy’s seductive spell and is rebelling against Batman. Robin goes to meet Ivy at her garden hideout, where her venomous kiss fails to kill Robin because Batman had prevailed on him to coat his lips with rubber. Ivy tries to drown Robin in her lily pond and entangles Batman in her crushing vines, but they are able to free themselves when Batgirl arrives and traps Ivy in her own floral throne.
Batgirl reveals herself as Barbara. The three crime-fighters arrive at the Observatory to stop Freeze who has already frozen all of Gotham. Bane attacks Robin and Batgirl, but they incapacitate him and restore him to his original human state. Robin and Batgirl save Gotham by using the observatory’s satellites to reflect sunlight from outer space to thaw the city.
Batman shows Freeze video proof that Ivy pulled the plug on Nora and reveals that Batman was the one who saved her. He vows that Freeze will be allowed to continue his research at Arkham Asylum to cure Nora. Batman asks Freeze for his cure for the first stage of MacGregor’s Syndrome for Alfred and Freeze atones for his misdeeds by giving him two vials of the medicine.
At Arkham, Ivy is joined in her cell by Freeze, who vows to exact revenge on her. Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred is cured and Bruce invites Barbara to live with them, joining Batman and Robin to fight crime as Batgirl.
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Despite the bad reviews and criticism this film has received it is not all doom and gloom. Clooney is an interesting Batman, there are some finely choreographed fights, (a few not all) and there is a fine bike racing montage that is to watch out for. The Alfred sub story is also quite touching.But these are almost forgettable once the ending roles around and you are left with memories of a film that justifies the family viewing tag with some action figures who explain everything for you, some ridiculous costumes and a plot that is simply paper thin

REVIEW: THE PERFECT STORM

CAST
George Clooney (Gravity)
Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Diane Lane (Man of Steel)
John C. Reilly (Step Brothers)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
John Hawkes (Winters Bone)
Michael Ironside (Highlander 2)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Abyss)
Karen Allen (Raiders of The Lost Ark)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander 2)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)
Bob Gunton (Dardevil TV)
In October 1991, the commercial fishing boat Andrea Gail returns to port in Gloucester, Massachusetts, with a poor catch. Desperate for money, Captain Billy Tyne (Clooney), convinces the Andrea Gail crew to join him for one more late season fishing expedition. The crew heads out past their usual fishing grounds in the Grand Banks, leaving a developing thunderstorm behind them. Initially unsuccessful, they head to the Flemish Cap, where their luck improves. At the height of their fishing the ice machine breaks; the only way to sell their catch before it spoils is to hurry back to shore. After debating whether to sail through the building storm or to wait it out, the crew decides to risk the storm. However, between the Andrea Gail and Gloucester is a confluence of two powerful weather fronts and a hurricane, which the Andrea Gail crew underestimates.
After repeated warnings from other ships, the Andrea Gail loses her antenna, forcing Captain Linda Greenlaw (Mastrantonio) of sister ship Hannah Boden to call in a Mayday. An Air National Guard rescue helicopter responds, but after failing to perform a midair refuel, the helicopter crew ditch the aircraft before it crashes, and all but one of the crew members are rescued by a Coast Guard vessel, the Tamaroa. The Andrea Gail endures various problems. With 40-foot (12 m) waves crashing on top of the deck, a broken stabilizer ramming the side of the ship, and two men thrown overboard, the crew decide to turn around to avoid further damage by the storm. After doing so, the vessel encounters an enormous rogue wave. Billy tells Bobby (Wahlberg) to apply full power to ride over the wave; it seems that they may make it over, but the wave starts to break and the boat capsizes. Billy elects to go down with his ship, the rest of the crew are trapped inside and only Bobby manages to get out. He surfaces in time to watch the boat go under; however, without a life jacket, he has no chance of surviving. He is last seen all alone among the waves. There are no survivors and the film ends with Linda reading the eulogy at the memorial service, followed by Christina and Bobby’s mother, Ethel, consoling each other on the dock and Billy’s voice soliloquising about what it means to be a swordboat captain.
A powerful and emotional drama epic.

REVIEW: INTOLERABLE CRUELTY

 

CAST

George Clooney (The Ides of March)
Catherine Zeta Jones (Red 2)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Cedric The Entertainer (Serving Sara)
Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Edward Hermann (The Cat’s Meow)
Paul Adelstein (Bedazzled)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Julia Duffy (Scream Queens)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Stacey Travis (Mystery Men)
Kristin Dattillo (Cornado)

Donovan Donaly (Geoffrey Rush) a TV soap opera producer, comes home early and finds his wife Bonnie (Stacey Travis) with her ex-boyfriend, Ollie (Jack Kyle). Bonnie hires Miles Massey (George Clooney), a top divorce attorney and the inventor of the “Massey pre-nup”, a completely foolproof prenuptial agreement. Miles wins the divorce case, leaving Donaly with nothing.

Private investigator Gus Petch (Cedric the Entertainer) is tailing the wealthy and married Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann) on a drunken night out with a blonde. When they stop at a motel, Gus bursts in and tapes them with a video camera. He takes the evidence of infidelity to Rex’s wife, Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose primary motivation is obtaining wealth and independence via divorce. Rex hires Miles, and Marylin’s friend, a serial divorcée named Sarah Sorkin (Julia Duffy), warns Marilyn that Miles will be a dangerous opponent.
Marylin and her lawyer, Freddy Bender (Richard Jenkins), fail to reach an agreement with Miles and Rex. Bored Miles asks the fascinating Marylin to dinner, where they flirt. The next day he is able to find a witness with his assistant’s help to expose her. In court, Marylin feigns an emotional breakdown over Rex’s apparent cheating on her. However, Miles isn’t fooled by this and gets the Baron Krauss von Espy (Jonathan Hadary) to testify that she had asked him to arrange a marriage to a man who was very rich, easily manipulated, and likely to be unfaithful, proving that Marylin’s testimony was indeed a lie. Marylin winds up with nothing, and Miles’s aged boss, Herb Myerson (Tom Aldredge), congratulates him.
Marylin wants revenge, and finds broke soap-producer Donaly living on the street, still clutching his Emmy statuette. She offers him a chance to reclaim his lost glory if he helps her. Donaly agrees and they begin their revenge on Miles. Soon after, Marylin shows up at Miles’s office with a person she says is her new fiancé, supposedly an oil millionaire named Howard D. Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton). Marylin insists on the Massey prenup, but Miles sees Howard destroy it during the wedding, in a demonstration of love.
Visiting Las Vegas to give the keynote address at a convention for divorce attorneys, Miles bumps into Marylin, who says she is now disenchanted with her wealthy but lonely life, having divorced Howard and received the vast Doyle Oil fortune. Miles is thrilled, and they marry on the spur of the moment. He signs the Massey prenup, but she tears it up. The next morning a disheveled Miles announces at the convention that love is the most important thing, and that he is abandoning divorce suits in favor of pro-bono work. Then Miles discovers that “Howard D. Doyle” was just an actor from one of Donaly’s soap operas. Marylin has tricked him, and now his wealth is at risk. Miles’ boss demands that something be done to save the firm’s reputation, and suggests the hitman “Wheezy Joe” (Irwin Keyes), whom Miles hires to kill Marilyn. Miles then learns that Marylin’s ex-husband Rex has died without changing his will, leaving her millions. Miles rushes to save his wife from the hitman, but Marilyn has already agreed to pay him double to kill Miles instead. There is a struggle and in the confusion Wheezy Joe mistakes his gun for his asthma inhaler, and kills himself.
Later, Miles, Marylin and their lawyers meet to negotiate a divorce. Miles pleads for a second chance and retroactively signs a Massey prenup. She tears it up, and they kiss. Marylin then tells Miles that to get Donaly’s help for supplying Doyle, she suggested an idea to him for a TV show: Gus Petch becomes the host of a big hit, America’s Funniest Divorce Videos.
As entertainment goes this film was laugh out loud at points all the way through. It has a good pace and never drags, and it was visually interesting, unpredictable and clever.

REVIEW: THE IDES OF MARCH

CAST

George Clooney (Out of Sight)
Ryan Gosling (Gangster Squad)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
Paul Giamatti (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen)
Marisa Tomei (The Wrestler)
Jeffrey Wright (Source Code)
Max Minghella (The Internship)
Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty)
Gregory Itzin (Adaptation.)
Michael Mantell (Secretary)

MV5BMTkxMTU3MTY4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTMwODQ3Ng@@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Clooney’s story  is set during the week of the Ohio primary race for the Democratic presidential candidate, which has basically come down to a two-man contest between Senator Ted Pullman (Michael Mantell), whose campaign is run by shrewd Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti), and Governor Morris (Clooney). Morris’s campaign manager is longtime operative Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman); Stephen Meyers (Gosling) is his number two man. The decisive race in Ohio is close, which much riding on who will get the endorsement (and delegates) of Senator Franklin Thompson, who is angling for a cabinet post. In the midst of all of this, Stephen begins a campaign trail romance with intern Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), who turns out to be the daughter of the head of the DNC. And then things get complicated.The film’s early scenes are its best. The script talks plain and names names, throwing around smart political talk; Meyers and Duffy’s conversation about learning to how to play the game from Republicans is sharp and lucid, while Morris’s comments from the stump about taxation and “socialism” (as well as Zara’s crack that the Republicans “can’t find a nominee that’s not a world-class fuck-up”) are tartly timely. Though some of the details of the campaign stretch credibility (no candidate could proclaim himself as indifferent to religion as Morris does and actually survive a primary for either party), its portrayl of primary politics and their backstage byplay feel authentic;  Gosling and Wood’s two-scenes have a nice zing to them (reminsicent of the screwball comedy homages in his underrated Leatherheads), Clooney’s offhand sense of humor is disarming–see Hoffman and Gosling’s offstage compliments after the first debate, or the business with Wood and Gosling’s tie the morning after their first date–and he draws out some nice directorial flourishes, like the way he handles a late scene with Hoffman going into an SUV.Every member of the cast is utterly convincing. Clooney’s smooth persona has rarely been better employed–both his playful charm and his steely directness. Gosling gets a good, hard arc to play, and he wails on it; the speed which his idealism loop-the-loops into cynicism is dazzling . It’s a memorable turn, even if he calls up a wide-eyed, manic look that will make Drive viewers fear he’s about to break out the hammer. Hoffman gets a showcase scene in his hotel room, a footlights monologue that betrays the film’s stage roots, but he’s so compelling you don’t notice the scaffolding; the way he pivots from cool contempt to utter rage is what good screen acting is all about. Wright is underused, but Clooney juggles the rest of the ensemble cast with ease.