Thursday, 3 December 2009

Soderbergh Blog-a-Thon Day Two: Ocean’s Twelve

 There's a blogathon going on over at LAMB. Luckily I had these few words on my computer, so I was able to participate.

Steven Soderbergh is a man I like. It’s strange, as a director I can probably only pick out a handful of his films that I believe to be particularly good. However, all things being equal I think the man is talented, and for the most part is films if not great are always original. When Soderbergh released Ocean’s Eleven in 2001 it was a financial success, and although it was not as critically successful as it should have been, it was still significantly well received. The 2004 sequel didn’t fare as well. The critics were lukewarm, and even though it made money – it wasn’t as much as was anticipated. The movie is faulty. That much is obvious, but for all its incongruity, its indulgency and its downright silliness Ocean’s Twelve is still a nice good romp. And if I’m going to watch a director wallow in his indulgency, Soderbergh is not a bad one to pick.

As with its predecessor Ocean’s Twelve centres on a heist, gone wrong [and perhaps delightfully right] and with heightened use of running gags and some ridiculous [and might I add effective] allusions, Soderbergh manages to get his story across. Critics of the film have claimed that the movie seems to be a giant reason for some A-list celebrities to get together and have a good time. I agree, and the people who criticise that are completely missing the point. 2004 was a generally good year in film, but no other film [not even the delightfully idiosyncratic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; or the spotty, but well meant Sideways] boasts a cast of actors enjoying themselves as much as they do in Ocean’s Twelve. It’s pointless to ridicule Tess [Julia Roberts] meeting with Bruce Willis as pandering. Sure, if you haven’t seen The Sixth Sense, or don’t know of the two’s history you may be a little lost, but if you don’t you’re probably not the film’s target audience.
Only a director completely assured of his talents would have that Julia Roberts/Tess scene and in the realm of the Ocean's world it works. Boy does it work. Sure, we wonder how exactly is it that Yen is able to understand the others in the group and vice versa, but we don't care. And Matt Damon who is usually woefully underrated as a comedian is even better in this than in the original. That scene where he gets extradited is a favourite of mine. It's completely inconsequential, but that tongue-in-cheek way is Soderbergh's relaity in Ocean's Twelve.
In a way Ocean’s Twelve reminds me of old cinema. Not in it’s story, or its direction per se. But it gets a group of actors together and makes a film centring on their natural personalities. Julia Roberts is always comfortable playing the zany girl, Zeta-Jones is always effective playing moody and angry, Clooney’s biggest successes are always as the well intentioned bad boy and the list goes on. To say that Ocean’s Twelve doesn’t take itself seriously is an understatement of the ages. There’s nothing in the movie to be taken seriously. Perhaps you didn’t go see it because you have better things to do that give money to a host of already rich celebrities, but I like to think that Ocean’s Twelve is better than that. I’d even like to think that even if they thought no one would show up, these actors would still make the movie. Ocean’s Twelve isn’t The Hours, or In the Bedroom or even Soderbergh’s Traffic; but it is an actors’ flick in the more irreverent use of the phrase. It’s indulgent and silly, but it’s also a whole lot of fun. And any film that gives Cherry Jones a few lines gets my approval.


Jude said...

Ha I try to watch it whenever I catch it on AMC, which is a LOT. I like it the most out of the Ocean's movies. I think the first one was brought down too much with superfluous plotlines. Of course, this one's plot is just as silly, but the actors have a great time, which is always enjoyable to watch.

CrazyCris said...

Oh I had so much fun with this one!!! (although I preferred the first one)

What's wrong with a bunch of actors getting together and having fun? It's wonderfully contagious! I walked out of the theatre grinning stupidly and in a damn good mood! Plus, all that eye candy? YUMMMMM

Now if only they hadn't made Ocean's 13 which was really no fun at all... :s

joe burns said...

Didn't see this.