(US/UK/Germany - 2014)
Directed by George Clooney. Written by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, Dimitri Leonidas, Justus von Dohnanyi, Holger Handtke, Zahary Baharov, Sam Hazeldine. (PG-13, 118 mins)
For all of George Clooney's fame and tabloid ubiquity over the last 20 years, he hasn't been in a lot of box office blockbusters other than the THE PERFECT STORM, OCEAN'S ELEVEN films and GRAVITY. He's largely chosen quality scripts over easy star vehicles (OUT OF SIGHT, SYRIANA, MICHAEL CLAYTON, UP IN THE AIR), isn't afraid to go for non-commercial material (SOLARIS, THE GOOD GERMAN, THE AMERICAN) and with his matinee idol looks, he's often described as a throwback to the Hollywood of old, a sort-of Cary Grant for today's cinema. For the most part, his directorial career also seems rooted in the past: CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002) was an adaptation of GONG SHOW host Chuck Barris' improbable memoirs, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK (2005) chronicled CBS News icon Edward R. Murrow and his battle against the McCarthy hearings, LEATHERHEADS (2008) was a screwball romantic comedy set in the world of 1920s football, and THE IDES OF MARCH (2011) was a thriller set in the scheming world of present-day politics but nevertheless felt like the kind of movie Alan J. Pakula, Sidney Lumet, or Sydney Pollack would've made in the 1970s. Clooney has more than established his bona fides as an actor and director, and the WWII epic THE MONUMENTS MEN, with its motley crew of unlikely heroes going into battle, is cut from the same cloth as the grand, large-scale men-on-a-mission classics of the 1960s, like THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961), THE TRAIN (1964), THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967), and KELLY'S HEROES (1970) to name just four.
Claire takes Granger to a vast and seemingly endless warehouse packed with paintings, furniture, glasses, dishes, books, etc. Granger looks around in wide-eyed wonder.
Granger: "What is all of this?"
Claire: "People's lives."
Granger: "What people?"
At that moment, Alexandre Desplat's maudlin, manipulative score swells and Granger's sense of wonder sinks with the saddened realization that...the Holocaust was happening? What does he mean "What people?" Where does he think all this stuff came from? How pie-in-the-sky naïve can he be? There had to be a more effective way to convey the horror of concentration camps than making Damon's character look like an idiot.