A harrowing true story infused with sharp humour and bristling intelligence, this riveting film is an auspicious writing-directing debut for TV news comic Jon Stewart. It's based on London-based journalist Maziar Bahari's book Then They Came for Me, a strikingly intimate memoir about being imprisoned in Iran. But the film never becomes a rant at an unjust society. Instead, it digs deep beneath the surface to find much more resonant, and more important, themes.
Maziar (Gael Garcia Bernal) left his pregnant wife (Claire Foy) at home in Britain to travel to Tehran to cover the contentious 2009 elections, after which the streets broke out in protests at what people saw as a rigged victory for Ahmadinejad. Maziar stays to report on this, and does a comical interview with a member of Stewart's team at The Daily Show. But the regime sees this as cooperation with an enemy, and arrests Maziar in his mother's (Shohreh Aghdashloo) home, charging him with espionage. While held in the notorious Evin Prison for nearly four months, Maziar is subjected to psychological torture at the hands of an interrogator (Kim Bodnia) he names "Rosewater" because of his scent. And the memories of similar experiences endured by his father and sister (Haluk Bilginer and Golshifteh Farahani) help Maziar survive his ordeal.
As a director, Stewart continually finds clever ways of revealing the inner workings of Maziar's mind, revealing his thoughts in inventive imagery and sounds. For example, one sequence beautifully weaves in Leonard Cohen's Dance Me to the Edge of Love, which holds a powerful memory for Maziar and also echoes the music and movies Iran's religious regime has strictly forbidden. Even the ghostly appearances of Maziar's father and sister are seamlessly integrated into the story. And the other significant achievement here is a refusal to make anyone a villain. As played by Bodnia, Rosewater is a man doing what he believes to be right, with pangs of conscience that eerily echo the news headlines about how American interrogators mistreated prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Bagram.
Continue reading: Rosewater Review
Maziar Bahari is an Iranian-Canadian journalist who embarked on a week long trip to Iran in 2009 in a bid to cover the story of the presidential elections, leaving his pregnant wife behind. He spent his time filming campaigns and students, but still understanding that sometimes he needs to turn the camera off for his own safety. However, when situations got heated and the protests began, he decided to make the brave move in videotaping the chaos; including such situations that could've been compromising to the government. Accused of being a foreign spy, he was later arrested, blindfolded, beaten and mercilessly interrogated, with information even as trivial as his Facebook interests being used against him. Despite the fear and the injustice, however, he got through with an extraordinary ability to focus his mind, laughing his way through his four month imprisonment and knowing deep down that he would be free before long.
Continue: Rosewater Trailer
For an amazing true story performed by such a strong A-list cast, this is an oddly uninvolving film. Fragmented and uneven, it shifts from comedy to drama to romance to adventure, never letting us get the feel of any sequence. In other words, the episodic structure would have been much more suitable to a longer-format TV series. Even so, this is a fascinating chapter of history that we haven't heard nearly enough about. And the actors are good enough to keep us entertained.
It takes place as the tide begins to turn during World War II, and art historian Frank (Clooney) recruits a team of experts to protect Europe's most important paintings, sculptures and monuments from both Allied bombing and Nazi plundering. He recruits a handful of Americans (Damon, Murray, Goodman and Balaban) to work with a Brit (Bonneville) and a Frenchman (Dujardin), and as they spread out around the continent, they discover that the real problem is that Hitler is stealing art on a massive scale and hiding it somewhere. Working with a resistance-minded French museum curator (Blanchett), they are able to find where some 5 million stolen pieces are stashed.
The central theme is whether art is worth risking your life to save. And if Clooney and Heslov had allowed this idea to seep through the pores of the script, it might have carried a real wallop. But they announce it over and over again, never giving us a chance to think about it ourselves. Everything about the movie is just as unsubtle, with each sequence played for laughs, thrills, drama or romance, as required. Which means that nothing emerges as organic for these simplistically defined characters, who are a composite of some 350 Monuments Men and Women who did a job no one thought was possible. Even so, it's fun to watch these actors play with the material, stirring in snappy details here and there and of course playing on their strong chemistry.
Continue reading: The Monuments Men Review
Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, George Clooney, John Goodman, Bill Murray and Dimitri Leonidas - 64th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) - 'The Monuments Men' photocall - Berlin, Germany - Saturday 8th February 2014
Matt Damon and Bill Murray were among the main stars to appear at the world premiere of 'The Monuments Men' at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York. We catch a glimpse of the back of Murray's head where he is sporting a nasty looking cut. It's unclear how he acquired the injury, but it happen days after his Peter Pan stunt on 'The Late Show With David Letterman'.
'The Monuments Men' is based on the true story of seven unlikely museum directors, curators and art historians who were tasked with the virtually impossible mission of rescuing artistic masterpieces from the prevailing Nazi thieves during World War Two.
Directed by Academy Award Winning Actor, George Clooney (Ocean's Eleven) The Monuments Men must risk their lives behind enemy lines as they fight against time in order to save hundreds of years of artistic history and man's greatest cultural achievements which are due to be destroyed by the Reich in this action comedy drama that encapsulates the triumphs and heroic deeds of the unsuspected heroes of World War Two.
The Monuments Men aims to avoid the cynicism of War and bring a new approach to this previously reclusive story based on the Monuments Men book by Robert Edsel.
The Monuments Men are a group of seven scholars from art historians to museum curators who are enlisted by the American government in the 1940s to retrieve some of the world's most priceless artefacts and art pieces from the hands of the Nazis during World War II. They plan to destroy certain parts of mankind's history bit by bit and, though it seems like a suicidal mission in itself, it is absolutely essential that the US doesn't let that happen. The men involved in the program have only received basic army training having been thrust into action with precious little time to lose. Encountering tumbling down shelters and landmines everywhere, they truly encapsulate the meaning of bravery by taking to the front line to protect history, no matter what the consequences.
Continue: The Monuments Men - Alternative Trailer
It's the 1940s and with World War II at its most fierce, Hitler's Nazi army is threatening whole worlds of culture and history. He wants entire generations to be wiped from time but America isn't going to let it happen. The government set up a Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program, enlisting seven men - from art historians to museum curators - to march headfirst in the conflict and rescue important art masterpieces and artefacts from the thieving hands of the Nazis. Having only been given basic training and with very little time to waste, the brave men thrust themselves in the face of danger to protect mankind's history no matter what the consequences. With enemies everywhere and a terrain covered in landmines, the journey will not be a straightforward one.
Continue: The Monuments Men Trailer
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