Tag Archives: Bill Murray

The Monuments Men

Director: George Clooney, Main Cast: George ClooneyMatt DamonCate BlanchettBill MurrayJohn GoodmanJean DujardinHugh BonnevilleBob Balaban;

the-monuments-men

George Clooney as a director has an uneven record, it’s kind of one hit and one miss. This film is, unfortunately, a miss, stellar cast notwithstanding. It is a story set during the last true “good” war: between the ever righteous Americans (with some help from those nice English chaps) and the evil Nazis! It is about a group of men who are not soldiers but art experts (being museum curators, art historians, architects or artists) and whose mission is to rescue artistic masterpieces stolen by the Nazis from museums and churches around Europe and return them to their rightful owners. Strong of a mandate from FDR himself, Frank Stokes (Clooney) puts together a band of unlikely heros to rob three casinos in Las Vegas…oops no, sorry, that was another movie! They arrive in France, not long after D-Day and, with barely any training as soldiers, venture to the front and split in groups trying to reach precious artifacts before the Germans have time to smuggle them away. Naturally, they are too late! Nazis are not only evil but real devils when it comes to organisation and logistics. From this point on, it is a giant treasure hunt through Europe and a race against time, since the prime directive from the Fuhrer is to destroy everything if the Reich falls (and the Germans aren’t doing so well by the end of 1944). Instrumental in helping the Monument Men is Claire Simone (Blanchett), curator of the Jeu De Paume museum in Paris, who kept a detailed record of all the works of art that came to the museum and that were later moved to secret locations by the Germans. She is the most interesting character of the film because she is the only one the audience has the chance to know a little better, the others are just one-dimensional cardboard silhouettes, devoid of any character development, which is a great flaw in a movie that is supposed to be about these happy few men who chose to risk their lives for what they believed in. Yes, yes, the message is very uplifting (prevent the destruction of centuries of culture and history and save what really makes us human) but the delivery is rather clumsy. There are a few funny one-liners, some banter and witticism in a “brotherhood of men” kind of way, but it all feels flat and without pathos. It is not enough to cast Bill Murray, John Goodman, Hugh Bonneville and Matt Damon, if the script is uneven, lacking a clear direction and credibility (none of these men of culture is fluent in a foreign language or two, really?!? Damon’s character pitiful attempt at speaking French doesn’t count!). It is a pity because this movie could have been quite something considering the cast. Unsatisfying and ineffective —5/10

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Oldies but goldies: Groundhog Day (1993)

Director: Harold Ramis, Main Cast: Bill MurrayAndie MacDowellChris Elliott;

groundhog-day

Phil Connors (Murray) is a weatherman at a local TV station and for the past few years he’s been tasked to cover the “groundhog day” in Punxsutawney, PA, where the local “celebrity”, Phil the groundhog, gives prediction about the winter. Phil (not the groundhog, who’s a cutie) is arrogant, obnoxious and very self-centered and he thinks the trip is a waste of his remarkable talent and he takes it out on people, in particular his cameraman Larry (Elliott) and, occasionally, even Rita, his cute and kind producer (MacDowell). Phil goes through the motions hoping to be out of Punxsutawney asap but a terrible blizzard prevent them to leave and Phil wakes up and… it’s groundhog day again! Well, I might say, it never gets old to see the evolution of Phil, doomed/cursed to relive over and over again the same day with the same people doing the same things. At the beginning he uses this time-loop to his advantage (or so he thinks), then he feels lost and hopeless and, finally, he takes it as an opportunity to improve himself and do things for others. Bill Murray is a joy to watch and the script is just great. Delightful —7/10

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Get Low

Director: Aaron Schneider, Main Cast: Robert DuvallBill MurraySissy SpacekLucas Black

Inspired by a true story of a Tennessee hermit in the 1930s. Robert Duvall is Felix Bush, who has been living by himself in the woods for 40 years, and one day decides to have a “funeral party” while he is still in this world. He wants to invite all the town and hear people telling the stories and rumors that circulate about him. Bill Murray is the owner of the local funeral parlor who is in financial difficulties and who agrees to organise the funeral party for Felix after seeing his big wad of cash. Lucas Black is the honest and kind clerk at the funeral parlor. To pique the interest of the townsfolk and ensure a good turnout, they publicize the party through flyers, radio and a lottery with Bush’s property as a prize (after his death). We slowly find out that the real plan is for Felix to finally tell his story and the reason of his self-imposed reclusion, in which is somehow involved Mattie (Sissy Spacek) and her deceased sister Mary Lee. Robert Duvall’s performance is seamless and very convincing (I would expect no less from him!) and Bill Murray is…well…Bill Murray, just priceless! Something different with a nice Southern atmosphere. —7/10

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