Tag Archives: movie review

Movie Review: The Monuments Men


War movies. There are literally hundreds of them. Sands of Iwo Jima, Platoon, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now … to name only a handful. And, if I can share a little secret, I’ve seen about none of them. They don’t appeal to me. Too bloody, too grisly, too real.

So when my friends at Grace Hill Media asked me to screen and review a movie called The Monuments Men, I was a bit concerned. Would I like it? Would I appreciate it? And (gulp) would I even get it?

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Okay, fine. Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. Because I attended the screening this week and I  did like and appreciate it. And I totally got it. Probably more than many people did back when this “based-on-a-true-story” situation was actually happening. Take a look at the trailer to help get you up to speed.

A pet project of George Clooney (who wrote, directed, produced and acted in the film), The Monuments Men chronicles the noble and most unprecedented mission of a small platoon of very unlikely heroes. These middle-aged men, a small group of artists, architects, and historians, all volunteered to enlist, endure basic training and travel all the way to Nazi-occupied Europe for the sole purpose of protecting and preserving Western art and culture.

Famous paintings and sculpture, historical architecture, even such artifacts as the original manuscript of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 were all on the rescue list. It was Hitler’s plan to possess or destroy all of it. To rob the world of its beauty and its creative expression.  These men were the ones who stopped him.

“If you destroy an entire generation of people’s culture, it’s as if they never existed.” Frank Stokes (as played by George Clooney)

The cast list was impressive. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville, Bill Murray … seriously, how much more time do I have here? Oh, and speaking of Bill Murray, he and Bob Balaban (an accomplished actor whom I most associate with old Seinfeld episodes) made a great pair. They had a sweet chemistry and shared a moment involving a Christmas carol that, for me, was one of the most touching of the film’s 118 minutes. Just as with other comic actors like Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, I always love when I see Murray in a more serious, meatier role. Groundhog Day is fine, but it’s in these more cerebral projects that he really shines and shows his chops. (Perhaps I should call his agent.)

The most amazing (and, let’s be honest, embarrassing) thing about the movie is that I didn’t know anything about the history behind it. Which is sort of the point of this film. It’s a seventy-year-old story that has never been told.* (How many movies can make that claim these days?) And I left the theater compelled to look up these brave individuals. I wanted to know more about them. I was curious about which pieces were saved. And which were not.

I wish I could thank them for their contribution.

The Monuments Men. It just opened in theaters. I’d take my parents to see it. And I’d take my kids to see it. Despite its protective PG-13 rating. (And you guys know I NEVER say that.)

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*AUTHOR’S NOTE: As soon as I hit “publish,” my cinephilic (that means movie-loving) friend Michael (who I so should have consulted first) reminded me about a 1964 film by John Frankenheimer entitled The Train featuring Burt Lancaster. It deals with the same subject in a very different manner. So I’ll revise my review to say “it’s a seventy year old story that hasn’t been told … recently.”

Still pretty impressive when you consider how many movies they made about the Titanic.

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Darling Dame

‘Gimme’ a Second to Tell You About this Movie


Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen any of these movies.

  • High School Musical? 
  • Encino Man? 
  • Josie & the Pussycats? 

Aww, come on. Don’t be shy. You guys know no one here can actually see you, right? The thing is … if you’ve seen those movies, you’re familiar with Vanessa Hudgens, Brendan Fraser and Rosario Dawson. Or at least you’re familiar with one side of these actors. Please allow me to introduce you to another, completely unrecognizable side of each of them.

There’s a movie opening this week called Gimme Shelter. These people are all in it. Along with James Earl Jones, Ann Dowd and a whole cast of other very talented people. You’ll hardly recognize them, especially Vanessa Hudgens. Think of it as her version of Charlize’s Monster (only she’s the good guy in this one). Take a look at the trailer.

Mel and I were lucky enough to be asked by our friends at Grace Hill Media to pre-screen the movie. (Heck, yeah! I felt special.) The running time for the movie is exactly 100 minutes. And I’m not exaggerating when I say it held my attention from the very first minute to the very last. (You’ll see.) It’s based on a true story so I never felt I could predict the plot line. It surprised me. It made me cry. It made me smile. It made me angry. And (truth?) it made me want to be a better mother. (That’s always a good thing, right?)

It is not a film to be taken lightly.

But it is a film that found me Googling the real story and the real people behind it as soon as the credits rolled. Speaking of which … the film makers employed the use of split screens featuring the actors alongside their real life inspirations.  I always love that. And I wanted to know more, what parts were real and where people were today. I’m weird that way.

And you will be, too.

Gimme Shelter. Plan to see this one. It’s sure to be poised for a few nods. My two cents.

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That Suburban Momma

The Day I Saw The Conjuring (aka The Day I Nearly Peed My Pants in Chicago)


By now, I think most of you know I went to the BlogHer conference in Chicago last weekend with my friend, Mel. We had a very memorable experience, complete with a great many noteworthy events. Among them? THE CONJURING. (Thanks to Grace Hill Media.)

Why did I just force myself to re-watch this trailer? Why? Why would I do that so close to my bedtime?!!? (Shuddering, shaking off the creepy imagery and taking a deep breath) Thanks to our so-precious-I-wanted-to-put-him-in-my-purse concierge, we were lucky enough to see it at the ICON Theatre where things like 40-ounce bottles of Blue Moon and bacon popcorn are served.

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Yes. I said BACON. Which I’m pretty sure means “love” in Ancient Greek.

Now drunk anesthetized, bloated satiated and ready hyperventilating, we walked into the theater and took our seats. And damn if every preview wasn’t for a different horror movie. (Way to warm us up, ICON.)

And then it began.

I don’t think I’ve seen an R-rated horror movie in a decade. (Who am I kidding? As a mom, I barely break away from PG. Scary = Cruella DeVille) This film doesn’t give you a break for even a minute. And the fact that it is based (not loosely, it claims) on a very REAL story kept me on the edge of my seat … fine, on the edge of Mel’s lap … the entire time.

I’m not joking.

I’ve never had another woman (except my own mother) protect me from harm more than Mel did that day. She knows how I struggle with disturbing imagery. Profoundly. How it haunts me during the night and in my dreams, should I actually fall asleep. Let’s just say her hand and my eyes became very well acquainted. But I still managed to see some of it. And hear ALL of it. Sometimes that can even be worse.

Truth? There are a few scenes I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to shake. Ever. The story is about ghost hunters Ed & Lorraine Warren researching the terrifying events that took place at the Perron home in the 1970s. The family had five children. Five. Little. Girls. (I’m shaking my head.) I hate that kids were involved. The demonic apparitions there were so very vengeful and bloodthirsty. They literally chilled my bones. And it was obvious everyone around me felt exactly the same way. Throughout the entire film, the audience had two settings:

  1. Staring wide-eyed and whisper-quiet without blinking or even breathing at the screen … OR …
  2. Gasping, shouting and screaming involuntarily at the heinous and mounting displays of otherworldly evil

I won’t give it away.

I can’t give it away.

Oh, but I so want to warn you when not to look. But that’s not my job. I’m just so freakin’ glad Mel didn’t feel that way.

DO I RECOMMEND THE MOVIE? Well, yes. I do. As long as you can tolerate the fear. Or maybe if you have a wonderfully protective friend like Mel. Why is this one so different? For me, I think it can all be summed by the quote at the end of the movie.

“Diabolical forces are formidable. These forces are eternal, and they exist today. The fairy tale is true. The devil exists. God exists. And for us, as people, our very destiny hinges upon which one we elect to follow.” – Ed Warren

I swallowed hard when I read those words on the screen and wanted to head directly to the nearest church. I’m totally serious. It was, if you will, a helluva story. And from everything I read after seeing the film, the Perron family is completely pleased with the finished product. This story just resonated a little too close with me.

Or maybe it’s just because I kept thinking about Annabelle …

… and how much she looks like the 100-year-old doll my grandmother gave me as a child.

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Cue creepy music. Fade to black.

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