George Clooney and his frequent writer/production partner Grant Heslov (pictured above) have largely focused on awards-friendly fare and "Oscar bait," including Good Night, and Good Luck, the Clooney-starring and Heslov-produced The American and the 2011 political drama, The Ides of March. Even their comical collaborations (ex. Leatherheads) are considered only semi-mainstream flicks.
The pair's next team effort will be both (somewhat) more commercial and big-budgeted: The Monuments Men, a WWII thriller that chronicles the U.S. Government's efforts to recapture precious artwork stolen by the Nazi regime.
Monuments Men will be based on the historical non-fiction work "The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History" by Robert M. Edsel. It tells the tale of how a special team composed of "American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others" were brought together, in order to travel around Europe (in the aftermath of D-Day) and track down the innumerable cultural and artistic artifacts claimed by Adolf Hitler and his followers. Edsel's book focuses specifically on six of those "Monuments Men."
Clooney informed The Wrap that he will co-write Monuments Men with Heslov, as well as direct and star in the project, which Sony is set to back. Even though the film (by the very nature of its subject matter) will be more of a regular piece of Hollywood entertainment, it's still said to boast "several meaty roles" that should attract the attention of top-notch actors who tend to stick with artier flicks.
In other words: Monuments Men will probably be a dramatic period thriller along the lines of, say, Valkyrie or Munich; however, unlike both of those similarly-prestigious films, the former has the advantage of featuring both more black-and-white heroes/villains AND a more uplifting ending, so that it might appeal to a broader range of moviegoers.
Likewise, from a filmmaking perspective, Clooney will be on new ground here. His directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, featured elements of an espionage adventure, but there it was played for more darkly comic effect. Monuments Men, by comparison, should give him a change to flex his action directing muscles in full, for the first time.
One relatively common complaint about Clooney's work (even from his admirers) is that they tend to not be especially technically proficient; rather, his directorial efforts rely more purely on great writing and acting. Again, Monuments Men will find him on new directing territory - and provide Clooney the opportunity to demonstrate that he can create suspense and terse set pieces, in addition to solid performances from his cast.
The Monuments Men is expected to be the next immediate project on Clooney's schedule. While it almost certainly won't begin production in time for release in 2012, a summer or winter 2013 release date could be in order - so stay tuned for more information, over the upcoming year.
Source: The Wrap