Ocean’s Eleven

Sneaking its way onto the list at number 500 of Empire’s top 500 films is the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven, one of the few remakes on the list to surpass its original. This film relies on the complexity of the genius heist plot and the easy camaraderie and star wattage of its leads to create an enjoyable and cerebral popcorn flick. But as usual it’s the small moments of humour that meant the most to me, especially how the story and characters play with the real-life personas of the actors playing them. For example, at the beginning of the film Brad Pitt’s Rusty Ryan and George Clooney’s Danny Ocean are teaching ‘movie stars’ how to play poker. The so-called stars they are schooling include small screen heartthrobs Topher Grace (That 70s Show,) Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek) and Holly Marie Combs (Charmed), each playing themselves, and here dubbed as major movie stars, being photographed by the paparazzi whilst Pitt and Clooney, at the time two of the most famous faces in the world, are ignored by everyone. Another parallel is Pitt and Clooney’s teaching of Matt Damon’s rookie conman Linus Caldwell, in a sense showing Pitt and Clooney teaching Damon how to become a star as renowned as them, with Damon continuing his meteoric rise to fame with the Ocean’s Eleven, arguably reaching the same level as Pitt and Clooney. Finally, Pitt’s performance as a fake doctor parodies Clooney’s stint on ER, especially his flamboyant overacting.

Choose film 9/10

Out of Sight

Last night I watched Out of Sight. I’d seen it before, but never really paid an awful lot of attention to it, but this time I made an effort to follow the plot. I think the film is a little over-rated, with editing style taking precedence over actual substance. In places, it seems to want to be a modernised version of classic cinema, with freezeframes, snappy dialogue and a plot that sees George Clooney’s prison escapee and Jennifer Lopez’s federal marshal thrown together and falling for one another, but it is this plot device that in my opinion lets the film down. I’ve always hated the tacking on of an arbitrary romance subplot almost ruining what would otherwise be an incredible picture (see also the Nightmare Before Christmas, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars), and this is definitely the case with Out of Sight. If the film had focussed on Clooney’s Jack Foley, his escape from prison and the heists before and after, I feel it would have been a far superior picture. By all means keep J-Lo’s character, (but for the love of cinema, recast) but drop the frankly ridiculous romance between the two. The best part of the film was the cast, with Don Cheadle eating up the screen as hoodlum Snoop, whilst Ving Rhames supports well as Buddy, Foley’s redemption-craving partner in crime. And the last minute cameo is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen.

Choose film 7/10