Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

February 4, 2014

CALLERI: With "Monuments Men," Clooney delivers exciting, old-fashioned movie entertainment

Niagara Gazette — You’ve surely heard the lament about today’s films, or perhaps you’ve said it yourself: “They don’t make them like they used to.”

Generally, this comment comes from folks of a certain generation, weaned on the dream factory output of the Golden Age Of Hollywood. Turner Classic Movies has provided younger film fans an extraordinary look at the exceptional movies that the major studios produced for decades.

Sometimes the lament references a slightly shorter, but still vital, second Golden Age of filmmaking, which reflects hundreds of outstanding and interesting movies released in the late 1950s through the early 1970s. From the French New Wave (Godard, Truffaut, Lelouch, to name just three) to the Italian masters (Antonioni, Fellini, Visconti, for example), to the Americans (Scorsese, Coppola, Kubrick, and many others), a revolution was created by directors and screenwriters who made motion pictures of lasting importance.

George Clooney grew up in metro Cincinnati into what would today be called a media-savvy family. His aunt was the popular singer Rosemary Clooney and his father, Nick Clooney, was a newspaper columnist, TV newsman, and local television talk show host. The elder Mr. Clooney even worked as an anchorman in Buffalo and wrote an insightful book entitled: “The Movies That Changed Us: Reflections On The Screen.” I’ve interviewed George and talked to Nick in Buffalo and once on a flight to Los Angeles.

My experience with the Clooney men bears out the fact that George has an instinctive understanding of the expressive nature of motion pictures; their ability, when done well, to tell engaging stories. He grew up surrounded by an historical sense of “show business.” For him, old-fashioned is not a negative. It’s something to be applauded and respected.

George’s new film, “The Monuments Men,” which he directed, co-wrote (with Grant Heslov), co-produced and stars in, is a winner. The movie does what all good films should do. It creates a shared experience that breaks the ridiculous confines of audience demographics. It’s a must-see for everyone, the first of the new movie year.

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