In this third installment however the boys aren’t in the game for the business. No this time it’s personal. When one of their own the irascible Reuben (Elliott Gould) suffers a heart attack after being double-crossed by malevolent hotel mogul Willie Bank (Al Pacino) Danny (George Clooney) Rusty (Brad Pitt) Linus (Matt Damon) and the rest of the gang decide to hit Bank where it hurts. They orchestrate it so not only will they ruin the hotelier financially by turning the tables on the precept that the house always wins but also hurt Bank’s pride by giving his big new Las Vegas hotel a bad rating. The Ocean crew even manages to rope in their old nemesis Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) on the scam since Benedict can’t stand Bank or the monstrosity he has built on the Strip. The plan is a bit convoluted and seemingly damn near impossible but the moral of the story is this: Mess with an Ocean you get pummeled by the waves. What has always made the Ocean's installments work is the freewheeling spirit and good-ol'-boy camaraderie from its eye-candy cast. Even though they are a bit more somber this time around--you know worried about Reuben and all--the actors are still clearly enjoying themselves. Clooney and Pitt continue to be the suave ringleaders finishing each other’s sentences and commiserating over the problems they are having with their respective spouses/girlfriends--which in turn explains why Tess (Julia Roberts) and Isabel (Catherine Zeta-Jones) aren’t in the movie. Basically this “isn’t their fight ” and they aren’t needed. Actually it’s Damon’s Linus who gets a love interest--sort of. The usually green Linus gets a chance to prove his mettle by donning a disguise (a big fake nose to be exact) and wooing Bank’s second-in-command the tough-as-nails Abigail Sponder as part of the plan. She’s played winningly by Ellen Barkin who fits right into this gentleman’s club. All the others are also in top form proving they could keep making these movies and we’d never get tired of watching them play. At this point in the Ocean's franchise director Steven Soderbergh’s work is pretty much done for him which is a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. The good part (and I’ve said this before) is Soderbergh definitely has one of the keenest eyes in the business and with Ocean's Thirteen he makes you feel like you’re coming home after spending the last movie floundering abroad. The guys are more at ease and the surroundings are comfortably familiar while the massive complicated suspend-your-disbelief undertaking crackles and zings as it's being put into motion. Soderbergh also uses the split-screen technique to great effect. The bad thing is we’ve seen it all before. Ocean's Thirteen doesn’t really offer anything particularly new as far as what we’ve come to expect and there are a few times Soderbergh seems to be phoning it in. But honestly is there anything wrong with that? Not really. Not with this great cast that is aging and gelling like fine wine bringing Sin City to its knees.
Three years since relieving ruthless Las Vegas hotel owner Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) of a large chunk of cash Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his crew--including detail man Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) and novice pickpocket Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon)--have tried to live modest legit lives. Sure it's hard to go straight but hey at least they got away with the heist of the century. Right? Not quite. Seems a mysterious someone has ratted the gang out to Benedict who demands his $160 million back or else. Strapped of most of their cash and too hot in the United States to pull off a job Ocean and company decide Europe would be the best place to score much to the chagrin of Danny's wife Tess (Julia Roberts). Once in Europe however they find out it isn't as easy as it used to be. They run up against the tough-as-nails Europol agent Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who once had a fling with Rusty and Europe's premier master thief the Night Fox (Vincent Cassel) who seems to be one step ahead of Ocean's crew. Let the games begin.
Ocean's Twelve's crop of A-listers have way too much fun making these movies as they recapture that freewheeling spirit and good-ole-boy camaraderie from Ocean's Eleven. Even though sometimes it seems like they are a bunch of frat boys hazing each other the actors clearly are enjoying themselves tremendously--and so do we. Clooney and Pitt continue to be the suave ringleaders speaking to each other in code while Pitt's Rusty gets the love interest this time around. As Rusty's former flame Zeta-Jones holds her own with the boys but doesn't have nearly the chemistry with Pitt that Roberts and Clooney exude as marrieds Danny and Tess. Actually Roberts almost steals Twelve away from the guys: she gets to show off her comedic abilities in one of the film's most hysterical sequences which involves real-life movie stars and Fabergé eggs. As far as the rest of the gang they all are back and raring to go including Damon who comes off as even more green and eager as Linus and the hilarious bickering Malloy brothers played brilliantly by Scott Caan and Casey Affleck. As for the villains Garcia's Benedict has very little do leaving most of the malevolent posturing and stylish good looks to French actor Cassel (Birthday Girl) as the crafty Night Fox.
With one of the keenest eyes in the business director Steven Soderbergh is a pro at letting audiences experience what seem to be very personal moments in his films. Ocean's Twelve is no exception as we become privy to the locker-room antics of our favorite band of thieves. This makes you as much a part of the boys club as its rowdy stars. Soderbergh describes Twelve as a "movie in which everything goes wrong from the get-go " whereas everything went right in Eleven. This allows for some wonderful comic scenes such as Roberts' escapade and the quick-witted exchanges between the boys. Upon finding out that the gang is now called "Ocean's Eleven" safecracker Frank (Bernie Mac) exclaims "Who decided that? I'm a private contractor!" The film's inherent problems come from George Nolfi's screenplay which tries to incorporate the whole "greatest thief in America meets the greatest thief in Europe" idea. Suddenly Twelve becomes less about planning a heist and watching things go wrong than about a cock fight to see which thief can outdo the other thief. At the end when all the convoluted twists are revealed you're left wishing for simpler times.
"OCEAN'S FOUR?" The 1960 Frank Sinatra/Rat Pack heist comedy "Ocean's Eleven," about former military guys who reunite to rob a bunch of Vegas casinos, isn't exactly a National Film Registry-bound oeuvre destined for the Pantheon of Cinema Classics. No matter.
Although it's the new millennium, Hollywood still knows no shame in venturing where no others dare in scavenging for material. Thus, we have on the boards plans for a remake of "Ocean's Eleven," courtesy of Warner Bros. and producer Jerry Weintraub, with George Clooney -- as Danny Ocean -- so far the only star firmed for the megastar cast of 11 partying felons.
Problem is, this "Ocean's" could be heading for a Titanic-like iceberg of a budget. For starters, Clooney pockets about $10 million per pic. Already mentioned to co-star with him are Brad Pitt (about $17.5 mil per pic), Johnny Depp ($11 million), Julia Roberts ($20 mil) and Mike Myers ($20 mil).
Now these are only mentions, but we know this is a Star Vehicle. So hypothetically going with the aforementioned and pulling out our pocket calculator, the new "Ocean's Eleven" has already sucked up about $78.5 million (this before at least five more major roles are to be cast and a motion picture to be shot, edited and marketed).
Fortunately, all-new "Ocean's Eleven" director Steven Soderbergh is known for attracting big-name talent willing to forgo normal fees for a chance to work with him. The film is scheduled for a January 2001 start but, according to Jerry Weintraub's office, he and Warner Bros. are still noodling over the budget as they continue to cast.
Our suggestion: Cut Clooney's pack from 11 to four or five and go fake Vegas in Canada.
ISN'T CANADA GREAT? Two of this past weekend's openers had nothing to do with French Canada -- except that they were shot there.
The Ashley Judd / Ewan McGregor thriller "Eye of the Beholder," with a story that jumps all over the U.S., including key scenes in Washington, San Francisco and New York, used a mostly Canadian crew on mostly Canadian locations. The pic, which debuted in le numero uno position on the box-office chart Monday, marked the distribution bow of L.A.-based Destination Films.
And the Bette Midler-starrer, "Isn't She Great," the biopic of best-selling trash authoress Jacqueline Susann and her slavishly supportive husband Irving Mansfield, took place all over New York and was shot all over Montreal. Perhaps the biggest insult to Gothamites is that even Broadway's legendary restaurant hangout Lindy's was recreated up north.
And, of course, "The Hurricane," which just may earn Denzel Washington that Oscar, did lots of its lensing in Canada.
THE NEVERENDED STORY? Speaking of "Eye of the Beholder," did the producers leave the ending of the film at the Canadian border?
Those Who Have Seen say the film's plot, about a maybe-psychopath who is stalking a maybe-serial killer in what just may be a dream or maybe the delusions of a severely demented or maybe severely depressed individual, is never resolved. Panting for that "Sixth Sense" type of mind-blowing ending that knocks the popcorn out of its holder, filmgoers merely got an end credit roll.
Watch "Eye" close sooner than anyone expected.
As for the un-great opening weekend of "Isn't She Great," Those Who Have Seen wonder why a film about such an over-the-top character like the fame-crazed, pooch-crazed and Pucci-crazed Susann, who wrote such over-the-top potboilers like "Valley of the Dolls," was given such over-the-top treatment. Call the filmmakers' broad (no pun intended) approach a philosophical miscalculation. Or maybe Susann and her incredible success as a writer are subjects that are too insubstantial for successful adaptation to the big screen. End of story.
... Less Stratospheric: New York-based Stratosphere Entertainment, money guy Carl Icahn's four-year-old specialized production and distribution entity, is undergoing growing -- or should we say shrinking -- pains. The staff was decimated last week as a result of restructuring that, when the deal closes, will have Stratosphere and Samuel Goldwyn Films sharing an umbrella under Vancouver-based CanWest, a partner of U.S.-based Seven Arts. CanWest hopes to make the two entities their "classics" picture division. Insiders said that the slice 'n' dice of Stratosphere is part of CanWest's strategy to combine the overheads of Stratosphere and Goldwyn by creating one sales department and one set of cashiers and bookers. Stratosphere, which recently released actress Joan Chen's directorial debut "Xiu Xiu," has scheduled for this summer the Sharon Stone-starrer, "Beautiful Joe," which marks the distrib's first in-house production ...
Why Lawyers Get Rich, Part X: A California-based company called C3 Entertainment, which owns rights to The Three Stooges trademarks, filed suit against New Line Cinema over use of less than 30 seconds of a clip from a Stooges short that was seen on a TV in the background in a scene in New Line's "The Long Kiss Goodnight." The wheels of justice do turn slowly, but a district court has finally dismissed the suit.
Loosely based on the (rather lame) 1960 Rat Pack film dashing understated-but-cool thief Danny Ocean (George Clooney) orchestrates the most sophisticated elaborate casino heist in history less than 24 hours after being released from jail. In one night Danny's handpicked 11-man crew of specialists--including an ace card sharp (Brad Pitt) a young-but-masterful pickpocket (Matt Damon) and a demolition genius (Don Cheadle)--will attempt to steal over $150 million from three Las Vegas casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) the elegant ruthless entrepreneur who just happens to be dating Danny's ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). To score the cash Danny will have to risk his life and risk his chance of ever reconciling with Tess. But if all goes according to his intricate nearly impossible plan Danny won't have to choose between his stake in the heist and his high-stakes reunion with Tess. Or will he?
The star wattage in this movie could solve all of California's electricity problems in one fell swoop. George Clooney easily passes himself off as suave mastermind Danny Ocean playing the role with understated class and elegance. Brad Pitt takes a similar arc as Rusty though he's slightly more dispassionate and professional than Clooney's visionary Ocean. Matt Damon is convincing as the inexperienced-but-talented pickpocket who's essential to getting in the vault. And Julia is simply Julia--glamorous and charming a smart cookie who is being wooed by the evil ruthless (and anal-retentive) casino mogul so elegantly portrayed by Andy Garcia. Affecting a Cockney accent and attitude Don Cheadle's portrayal of the demolition expert is a tour de force. Carl Reiner is absolutely hilarious as Saul Bloom an aging old-timer who comes out of retirement to infiltrate the casino as a debonair arms dealer. Elliott Gould Bernie Mac Scott Caan and Casey Affleck round out the cast nicely with inspired performances especially Gould's and Mac's.
Soderbergh cemented his reputation last year as a director of serious weight when both Traffic and Erin Brockovich were nominated for the Best Film Academy Award and garnered him two Best Director nominations---an unprecedented feat. Ocean's Eleven marks Soderbergh's departure from the serious to the seriously fun. This is one of the most stylish most elegantly filmed movies I have ever seen. Not only are all the actors beautiful but so are the locations clothes and shot selections. The speed and pacing of the flick belie the movie's length; Soderbergh clearly had fun making this movie. He shot this film very intimately often allowing the camera to stay close on the actors a tad longer than expected which lets their personas shine through--thus their personalities draw you into the movie as much as the caper itself. It's not often you see a movie where the direction has as much wit and cleverness as the plot itself. Ocean's Eleven makes no pretense to be something other than a jaunty cheeky exhilarating heist movie. So while the plot's not too deep all is forgiven considering the level of acting and direction.