February 7, 2014

Fly Over: ‘Ruby’, and ‘The Monuments Men’



Every year thousands of Americans commit to fight the “battle of the bulge” for many reasons. For some it’s a matter of life and death; for others it’s wanting to fit into an old pair of jeans or maybe to look good for a vacation or wedding. According to a study by the University of Scranton, the number one New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to lose weight.
From experience alone, I’ve seen both my family and friends show a high commitment level to their New Year’s resolutions in the beginning then as time passes their enthusiasm drops or maybe they’ve gotten close enough to their goal and felt like that’s close enough. What works for me is to not only remind myself of the reason why but to also feed off of people who inspire me. While she may not be the picture of perfect health, a woman named Ruby Gettinger inspires me in a documentary titled “Ruby.” The reality-documentary television series follows Gettinger, who lives in Savannah, Ga., as she tries to lose weight.
The journey begins with Gettinger weighing more than 477 pounds. Prior to this she weighed 700 pounds. Gettinger’s doctor says that if she doesn’t change her diet and lose weight she will likely eat herself to an early grave. Knowing this, her spark for change ignites and Gettinger is equipped with a team of nutritionists, doctors and trainers to lose weight.
To make the nutrition aspect easier for Gettinger, she is given pre-made meals and snacks to eat throughout the day to ensure she will always hit a calorie deficit and lose weight. She also makes weekly visits to a psychiatrist to talk about her past and what may have started her food addiction.
Food is more than something that tastes delicious for Gettinger. It’s what she uses to cope with rejection, sadness, anger, loneliness, boredom and more. One of the biggest challenges she faces is constantly being reminded of her size while trying to make healthy changes, whether it’s not being able to fit into a single seat on an airplane or struggling to find a chair to sit in at the doctor’s office.
Gettinger becomes complacent at times although she has the support of her team and friends, and often puts herself down for not hitting her goals. She is repeatedly encouraged by her friends to not give up and to keep going, since Gettinger is known for quitting when faced with a setback.
“Ruby” delves deeper than just the exercise and nutrition aspect of losing weight unlike most weight-loss shows. It shows Gettinger during her highs and lows. You can also see her attitude change for the better and for the worse. There are times where after the initial high has ended, reality hits her and she is faced with the obstacles of having to make healthier food choices. It probably doesn’t help that she has roommates who regularly eat fast food and deep-fried foods in front of her.
One of the things I liked most about “Ruby” is it shows no one is going to be successful 100 percent of the time even when they have all the necessary tools. At one point Gettinger is questioned by her nutritionist as to how she gained 30 pounds if she was tracking everything she ate.
While you need to watch the series to know if Gettinger reached her goal and kept the weight off, one big lesson to be learned from “Ruby” is no one but you can make the change you seek.
I recommend this documentary to anyone who likes weight-loss shows or even someone who may want a little inspiration. You don’t have to be hundreds of pounds overweight to relate to the series either. I can relate to Gettinger in that with any goal, it’s never easy getting there. The small choices made daily brings the person wanting to lose weight one step closer to the goal.
“Ruby” is rated TV-PG


‘The Monuments Men’

It’s been nearly seven decades, but the fascinating stories of World War II continue to emerge. It’s nearly impossible to understand in this digital age the type of people who would willingly leave their posh positions as a prestigious college professor, an architect and a sculptor to don a uniform and head into the thick of a global firefight, but that was then, and this is now.
George Clooney stars, co-wrote and directs “The Monuments Men,” an intriguing albeit embellished real-life story based on the writing of Robert Edsel about a group of out-of-shape, middle-aged art geeks who are given the seemingly impossible task of protecting the Western world’s more important pieces of art.
Frank Stokes (Clooney), a Fogg Museum art historian, convinces President Roosevelt to commission the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives program. It’s the spring of 1944 and the Allies mistakenly bombed the Monte Cassino in Italy, disregarding a presidential order to protect historical sites and important art. Furthermore, the Nazis burned Florence to the ground as they retreated out of Italy. Thousands of years of Western culture were being blown to pieces.
So Stokes assembles a group of art experts to travel to Europe and advise commands to avoid these historical sites as well as recover a trove of valuable art the Nazis have stolen. His friend James Granger (Matt Damon) an expert restorer, Walter Garfield (John Goodman) a sculptor, Preston Savitz (Bob Balaban) a theater buff Donald (Hugh Bonneville) an alcoholic British museum head, Parisian painting instructor (Jean Dujardin) and architect Richard Campbell (Bill Murray) sign on to support the project.
They’re obviously not military men, but their intellect gets them farther than what is expected. Stokes tells the men early on that they’re expected to fail. After a brief basic training in England, the group heads to Normandy to begin their mission. At the same time Granger receives a special mission and heads to Paris in search of clues to stolen art.
Though the film is about art, there are few pieces actually shown, but instead the team focuses on two particular works – Michelangelo’s sculpture Madonna of Bruges, and Hubert and Jan van Eyck’s “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb,” a 12-panel altarpiece stolen from Ghent, Belgium, by the Nazis. Flashes of other works are quickly shown to include “Portrait of a Young Man” by Raphael that was stolen from Poland by the Nazis and has never been recovered – it’s shown burning in the film.
Although the team meets a measure of success, unfortunately, the realities of war touch all those who tempt fate.
Granger meets Claire Simone (Cate Blanchett) who is imprisoned for collaboration with the Nazis, but it’s clear she’s not a collaborator. She has a wealth of knowledge about where the stolen art from Paris was sent, but she fears the Americans will not return the art. Eventually she relents.
Granger links up with the remaining “Monuments Men” as the war comes to a close, and they end up in a race against a Russian task force charged with collecting the spoils of war.
It’s evident where the movie will lead, and at times it’s unbearably slow. The characters are underdeveloped, and the comedic relief falls flat. But, the story is simply too interesting not to keep watching. This film could have been absolutely amazing, and it had its moments.
The scene that briefly revealed the film’s lost potential was when Campbell and Savitz are in a camp during Christmas and receive care packages from home. Murray’s character heads to the showers and Savits plays a recording Murray’s grandchildren sent him over the PA system. They sing, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The camera focuses on Murray’s face. His emotive expressions switch in and out with a corresponding scene as Clooney and his driver desperately try to save the life of a Soldier they found on the side of the road. It was the most emotional I’ve felt in ages watching a film. The scene is worth the price of admission.
This film is rated “PG-13” for scenes of war violence and historical smoking.

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