Clooney hopes panned film will do better in Europe
HOLLYWOOD star George Clooney said on Saturday that he is hopeful European audiences will respond to his light-touch wartime drama The Monuments Men, after it got a mauling from United States critics.
Clooney presented the picture - about a real-life corps of middle-aged art experts who go behind enemy lines to rescue precious works from the Nazis - at the 64th Berlin film festival, one day after it opened in US cinemas.
Initial feedback has been savage, with film-industry bible Variety flaying the picture as an "exceedingly dull and dreary caper pic" while the New York Times called Clooney's direction "stolid" and "pandering".
Asked by an American reviewer whether he thought the movie, his fifth as a director, would get a "different" reception in Europe, where the film is set, Clooney said: "We'll see. This is our first city, the first screening was today. We hope good things."
Harry Ettlinger, a German-born Jew who served as an interpreter with the real-life Monuments Men, joined Clooney at the red-carpet Berlinale screening on Saturday night.
The presence of the 52-year-old Clooney, who is arguably an even bigger star in Europe than in his native US, sparked a frenzy at the festival.
A filled-to-the-rafters press screening, which had to be interrupted when a member of the audience required medical attention for a stroke, gave way to a near-melee to get into the subsequent news conference, as hundreds of fans thronged the streets to catch a glimpse of Clooney.
He said the film had been in the works for three years, so the "amazing find" in Munich that emerged in November of a hoard of hundreds of missing works of art believed to be looted by the Nazis had been pure coincidence.
"It's a story that's going to keep coming up, because of course there's still an awful lot of art that's missing and will be found in lots of people's basements," he said.
The Monuments Men appeared out of competition for the Berlin Golden Bear top prize, which will be awarded on Saturday.