A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 40 – Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Ocean’s Eleven – April 9th, 2010

I will admit up front, I have never seen the original Rat Pack movie by the same title. I’m told by a good friend that there are very few direct similarities. So I won’t be doing any compare/contrast stuff here. I’ll just stick to this movie alone. And we’ll get to the sequels tomorrow and Sunday.

I really like this movie. It’s a piece of fluff to be sure, but it’s a slick piece of fluff. I love it from beginning to end. I love Danny’s introduction at his parole hearing. I love Rusty’s introduction at the poker game for WB “stars” (all played by themselves). I love how they interact at the card game, bilking the players for their “pocket change” without ever planning it ahead of time. I love how you see more than you think you see, right from the get-go. Danny walks right behind Rusty in the club and it happens so fast. You saw it but you didn’t see it. It’s the same for the heist that’s the meat of the movie. You see it, but you don’t necessarily know you saw it. Great directing, great casting. Seriously, I love this movie. I could watch it every damn night of the week.

And really, watching it now? The introductions for everyone in the crew? Perfect. I’d be hard pressed to nitpick any of them. Oh, I know there are holes here and there. Basher’s intro, for one. But I don’t give a damn. It’s done too well for me to care about the holes. And that goes for the whole movie. I know there are some continuity issues and some “Wait, but that wouldn’t… No…” moments, but for me they pale in the bright neon Las Vegas glow that is the rest of the movie.

It’s got some eminently quotable lines. “God, I’m bored.” “You look bored.” “I am bored.” is an exchange that goes through my head fairly frequently. The one-sided dialogue where they decided they need one more? You can apply that to anything! Back when that kid was supposedly in that balloon thing his crazy parents released? I couldn’t see the news without thinking “He’s a balloon boy!” I could go on and on, but I won’t. Largely because a lot of the best bits aren’t just in the lines, they’re in the delivery and the exchange. Nothing in this movie would be nearly so good as it is if the actors didn’t totally inhabit their roles so well. Speaking to that, I highly recommend watching the commentary for this movie. There’s some great stuff in there about the movie, especially from a more-serious-than-I-expected Andy Garcia, who has a lot to say about the villain he plays. Brad Pitt, on the other hand, seems like an awesome guy to just hang out and watch a movie with. I want him on RiffTrax, pronto! All in all, it seems like the movie was a ton of fun to make, and I think it comes through.

I loved watching this tonight. It’s rainy and nasty out and I’m inside with my cats, my laptop, leftover Chinese and a fantastic heist movie I know by heart. It’s not deep. It’s not meaningful. It doesn’t have to be. It’s pretty and it’s smooth and my only complaint is that I can’t find an official soundtrack for it. I got the soundtrack for the third, but not this one. And that makes me sad. But seriously, that’s my only complaint. I’ll live with just having to watch the movie (oh, what a chore) when I want to hear the music.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ocean’s 11 (2001)

April 9, 2010

Ocean’s 11 (2001)

Another day when my schedule doesn’t match well with Amanda’s means another day when we’re doing our reviews separately today. So today we’re doing another of our most quotable favorites: Ocean’s 11. That’s the 2001 version with Brad Pitt, George Clooney and all, not the Rat Pack version.

We have watched this movie so many times that we practically have it memorised. And the reason we’ve watched it so many times is simple: it’s a joy to watch. It’s just about the most perfect heist movie ever. Not because the heist is realistic. There are a couple big plot holes (such as when did the thieves swap the bags at the end? How did they get the bags full of fliers – for hookers – into the elevator?) But the movie has such style, flare and class that it doesn’t matter.

I associate director Steven Soderbergh more with strange indie films (like Coffee and Cigarettes) than with summer action comedies with big name stars, but his direction in this film is deft and flawless. You should really check out the two commentaries on the DVD here – Soderberg’s for great info on how his directorial technique works (he likes to leave himself wiggle room to set up new shot ideas on the set… he doesn’t have everything storyboarded and pre-planned), how well his film crew works as a unit (they are lightning fast doing the set-ups and often wrap a scene early), and lots of great info about making the movie. Then there’s the actor’s commentary where you get lots of joking around and dirt about behind the scenes stuff (Brad Pitt jokes around a lot, but does comment on his choice to always have his character Rusty eating junk food during any down time.)

And what fantastic chemistry the cast has! Particularly Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Several times in the movie their characters Rusty and Danny seem to know exactly what each other are thinking. They have flawless comic timing and play very well off one another. Two of the lines Amanda and I quote toeach other most often from this movie are banter between Danny and Rusty. The “Do you think we need one more” bit and “Hey, we could ask him!” A movie that has eleven protagonists could easily get bogged down, but this one simply floats along in a cloud of smooth class. Every single actor has a part to play and they all do it so well. It looks like it was effortless fun. In any other project a performance like Don Cheadle’s as Basher could have stolen the show, or Casey Affleck and Scott Caan’s constant banter and ribbing as the Malloy brothers could have been too over the top… but here every single actor steals the show, and it brings it to a whole new level of awesome.

And Andy Garcia is a great menacing villain. He talks in the commentary about Terry’s predatory nature, says that his signature walk was like a shark – he had to keep moving to live. You really feel he’s dangerous, and that he’s very nearly as cleaver as Ocean’s crew. He figures out what’s going on almost instantly and far before the reveal to the audience.

Add to all that a fantastic, hypnotic and groovy soundtrack and you have simple movie magic. A pleasure to watch every single time.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , | Leave a comment