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July 01, 2005

Ocean's Twelve

Steven Soderbergh - 2004
Warner Brothers DVD

There are two reasons why I like getting DVDs from my local public library - 1. It opens up my Netflix list. 2. I have the benefit of seeing movies for free.

This second point is important for something like Ocean's Twelve in that I at least have the consolation of knowing I never paid to see it.

In some ways, Ocean's Twelve comes closer to the spirit of the original Ocean's Eleven. The older film was primarily an excuse for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the other members of the "Clan" to hang out together. Even though Lewis Milestone was credited for direction, it was really Sinatra who called the shots. As a caper film, it's mildly diverting. What made that film a box office hit was the goodwill of the stars. Of the films that Sinatra and company made together, Ocean's Eleven is a much lesser film than Some Came Running or even Robin and the Seven Hoods.

Ocean's Twelve likewise has a plot involving an impossible heist as do both versions of Ocean's Eleven. However, the film comes off as a collection of improvised scenes strung together primarily for the amusement of the participants. George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the others have the goodwill of their precendants to have drawn a substantial audience for an alledged good time at the movies. By the end of the film I felt like I was sitting with someone constantly nudging me, reminding me that what was on the screen was hip and funny, when all I could feel was a sense of annoyance that not only did I see too many scenes that made no sense, but that I didn't really care anymore.

At this time, the film I think is Soderbergh's best, King of the Hill, is only out on tape. Made in 1993, this is a truly heartfelt story from writer A.E. Hotchner about growing up poor during the 1930s. The film was one of several films Soderbergh made following Sex, Lies and Videotape that did not achieve anything close to the financial success of his debut. King of the Hill is sad, funny and warm -hearted, sometimes all at the same time. Jesse Bradford, who was 13 at the time the film was made, conveys intelligence and care as the young Hotchner. Hopefully a DVD version of this film will appear in the near future.

Posted by peter at July 1, 2005 04:32 PM


Herman Weinberg is sadly almost forgotten today. Interesting that the name of your blog should allude to him. I love his Lubitsch book--the breezy antithesis of a stuffy, academic director study.

Posted by: girish at July 2, 2005 09:20 AM