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.
The plot starts off exciting enough: a motley group steals a rare gem but two of the thieves doublecross bad guy Patrick (Sean Bean) and take off with the precious stone. Jumping ahead 10 years we meet Dr. Nathan Conrad (Michael Douglas) a prominent New York psychiatrist with a loving wife (Famke Janssen) and an adorable 8-year-old daughter (Skye McCole Bartusiak). Life is good until Nathan is summoned by a colleague (Oliver Platt) to examine a disturbed young woman Elisabeth (Brittany Murphy). The next day he discovers the ruthless Patrick has kidnapped his daughter. The only way to get her back is to extract a six-digit number locked away in Elisabeth's troubled mind a number leading to the gem. But then the film lapses into the predictable: Nathan races to save his daughter and try to solve the puzzle of the traumatic event which sent Elisabeth off into la-la land.
Douglas certainly has had plenty of moments to shine in his career but this isn't one of them. He plays it pretty straight and boring leaving nothing to let him stretch his acting abilities. Following along the same lines Bean another fine actor who rarely gets to break out of the bad guy role plays a cookie-cutter villain with nothing more than his menacing looks and voice to keep him going. Murphy's performance as the complex Elisabeth has been talked about as Oscar bait-but we are not sure why. What starts off as an intriguing portrayal of yet another mentally disturbed character--her other being her role in Girl Interrupted which was much more interesting--dissolves into a lost-little-girl syndrome. Actually the two characters that stand out are Bartusiak as the spunky daughter and Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam) as a detective hot on the jewel thieves' trail.
Word starts off with such a bang you immediately get involved and think it may actually be a good movie. Director Gary Felder takes us right into Conrad's happy world and then turns it upside down when Conrad realizes what he must do to get his daughter back. It may be hard to believe Patrick after spending the last 10 years in jail would know that Elisabeth holds the key to finding the gem but the cat-and-mouse game Elisabeth plays with Dr. Conrad is fascinating. This plot device could have been taken into so many different directions especially since Douglas and Murphy have a very interesting rapport. Even the subplot involving the little girl and her attempts to escape while her mother with a broken leg tries desperately to find her could have been taken further. But the film goes ahead and ends predictably and we're left saying how much better we could have made it.
Madonna has set her heart on a new home. The singer and her husband, British film director Guy Ritchie, are on the verge of buying a $12.75 million British mansion that once belonged to photographer Cecil Beaton, Reuters reports.
French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo was hospitalized Wednesday in Paris for emergency treatment of what medical officials are calling a cerebral accident, The Associated Press reports. Belmondo, 68, is listed in serious condition, but is conscious. He was hospitalized early Wednesday in Corsica and then flown by helicopter to Paris.
Lorenzo Music, the voice of the cartoon cat Garfield, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles of lung cancer, AP reports. According to his wife, Henrietta, the 64-year-old Mr. Music worked until a month ago when he recorded Garfield's voice for a car commercial. He is survived by his wife and four children.
Michael Cournede, the 19-year-old co-defendant in the robbery case against Sopranos actor Robert Iler, has been charged with stealing money, a jacket, and a compact disk player from a teen-age victim in a separate incident on April 19 by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau on Tuesday, AP said. If convicted on the first-degree robbery charge, Cournede could face up to 25 years in prison.
Jim Nabors, who played the character of Pfc. Gomer Pyle in the 1964 TV sitcom Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., is ready to be promoted. According to AP, Gen. James Jones, commandant of the Marine Corps, will promote the character to lance corporal Thursday at a private ceremony at Camp H.M. Smith on Oahu, Hawaii.
Eminem protégés D12 and the Detroit acid-rapper Esham were thrown off the Vans Warped Tour show after a fight broke out backstage during the Aug. 3 show in Camden, N.J. Esham's publicist told SonicNet.com that the members of D12 jumped hims, causing a broken nose, ruptured eyeball, mild concussion.
A new batch of performers will be honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, ABCNews,com reports. Among them are former teen idols David Cassidy, Deborah Gibson and New Kids on the Block, who have provided the museum's curator, Jim Henke, with memorabilia.
Dr. Who has been cited as the most influential television cult programs of all time, according to a list compiled by media historian Jeff Evans for his new untitled reference book. Fawlty Towers and Star Trek ranked second and third, Reuters reports. Other top shows included Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Prisioner, The X Files and The Simpsons.
Anne Heche will star on her own television series for Warner Bros., scheduled for fall 2002. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Heche's salary will fall on the $1 million range. The studios are still unsure if the actress will act on a half-hour or hour-length show, but she has expressed interest in doing comedy.
Tyne Daly's paycheck for her CBS drama Judging Amy will climb from mid-five figures to six figures next season after the actress agreed to extend her contract by another year. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the deal settles the dust between Daly and the show's producers after the actress did not return to work for the show's third season.
Survivor 2 contestant Michael Skupin says he will not run for the U.S. Senate in 2002, AP reports. Skupin, 39, says he wants focus on his family and his new company, Michael Skupin Ministries, which fights alcohol and drug addiction. The former contestant told AP that he "will have the opportunity again when the timing is better."