For our next Genre Grandeur -Crime entry, I present you with a review by the reigning Shitfest champion, Cara from Silver Screen Serenade. If you don’t already follow here site, I strongly urge you to do so immediately. Cara’s blog has some amazing stuff, she has run 3 amazing guest series (so far) in the last few months alone (Noooovember, Resolutions and her most recent April Fools), she always finds cool and funny videos related to famous actors (mostly from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) :), she runs Schuster Sister Shenanigans where she and her sister text each other while watching classic films, is a new parent to Miguel (a love child between her and Eric of the IPC) and she has an occasional movie review (just kidding, she does this more often that one would expect.
But enough about Cara, here’s her review for Ocean’s 11 (2001)
Number of Times Seen – Hmmm. I’m so bad at guessing this. I would say all the way through…maybe five or six times? Could be more.
Brief Synopsis – “Danny Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.” (from IMDb)
My Take On It – Crime has never looked so cool, clever, and effortless. When considering my favorite crime films for this month’s round of Genre Grandeur, I almost passed up this film for a couple of others (The Usual Suspects and The Godfather, namely), but I kept coming back to Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven. There’s just something about this slick, lighthearted film that is so much fun and so easy to watch.
I’m assuming at this point everyone knows that Ocean’s Eleven is a reboot of a 1960 film of the same title starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and a whole slew of other folks. I’ve never seen the original myself, but the general consensus seems to be that the 2001 film is the superior version. Given how awesome it is, I believe that. As for the details of that awesomeness, let’s start with the cast.
Our main protagonist is Danny Ocean (George Clooney), a criminal recently released from prison for theft. Clooney, of course, plays him brilliantly with that charm and that twinkle in his eye that is just so…Clooney. How else can I put it? He’s great. Already scheming up the greatest casino heist in Las Vegas’ history, Danny immediately seeks out best bud and fellow criminal Rusty (Brad Pitt). The chemistry that Clooney and Pitt have as buddies is pretty magical. I find them totally believable—never a false note. Of course, it’s hard to find any slip-ups when it’s banter between two acting veterans. Also, a nice character touch that many of you may have noticed: Rusty is always eating. Apparently Pitt came up with that trait because he kept getting hungry during the long days on set.
Danny and Rusty gather together a group of men with various talents to pull of their ambitious robbery: blackjack dealer Frank (Bernie Mac), wealthy former casino owner Reuben (Elliott Gould), car enthusiast brothers Turk (Scott Caan) and Virgil (Casey Affleck), electronics expert Livingston (Eddie Jemison), demolitions man Basher (Don Cheadle), “grease man” Yen (Shaobo Qin), seasoned con man Saul (Carl Reiner), and skilled pickpocket Linus (Matt Damon). While not a whole lot of time can be spent getting to know these characters, they’re all still given ample time to distinguish themselves, and watching them interact with each other is great fun. Oh, and then add in Julia Roberts as Danny’s ex-wife, Tess, and Andy Garcia as villainous casino owner, Terry Benedict. Star-studded enough for you?
As much as I appreciate the actors in this film, Ocean’s Eleven wouldn’t be half as fun without the wonderful script. Not only is the dialogue some of the sharpest, funniest stuff around, but the detail written into every aspect of the casino heist is magnificently clever. Every person on the team has a pivotal role to play, and even the seemingly small jobs can make or break the heist. And when it’s all said and done, there’s a great scene toward the end where the men are standing outside the Bellagio, watching the fountain show and basking in the glory of their newly acquired wealth. Awesome moment.
Bottom Line – While Ocean’s Eleven may lack the drama of The Godfather or the surprise twist of The Usual Suspects, it is the best at what it is: pure, unadulterated entertainment. Simply put, this film is well-crafted, well-performed, and too-cool-for-school. If you’re looking for a crime film that isn’t too intense, this is an excellent go-to.
Rating – Oscar Worthy
Thanks to Cara for such an amazing review!
BTW, if you still want to join the fun of this month’s Genre Grandeur – Crime, it isn’t too late, just send me your review to firstname.lastname@example.org by this coming Sunday.