29 June 2018

Standin' On Their Own Two Feet

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The numbering system of the Ocean's films must be really confusing to anybody who hasn't seen them, with the logical assumption being that Ocean's 8 would be a prequel to Ocean's 11. In which case I feel I should warn you now.. Ocean's 8 doesn't involve Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett running into a sex-change clinic to alter their identities with George Clooney and Brad Pitt limping out in a dress a few hours later. Although I suppose retconning the original Ocean's movies to reveal the characters were actually a devious gang of transexuals would admittedly show some balls. Literally. Rather, this new film takes place after the previous three but focuses instead on Debbie, the sister of Clooney's original Danny Ocean. Debbie, played by Sandra Bullock, is also a con-artist and thief with the film opening in much the same way as Ocean's 11 did; with her being released from prison. I'm not sure how one family could independently create two con-artists but I'm now also a lot more suspicious of whatever the fuck Clooney and Bullock were really up to at the start of Gravity. And seems as this thieving bullshit apparently runs in the family I think I'll be watching Billy Ocean a lot more closely from now on too.

Anyway, the number in the film's title obviously refers to how many friends the title character has to pull a con with, with little Debbie being slightly less popular than her fun-loving older brother. Or perhaps she's just more efficient at it depending on your level of misogyny? For anybody that's seen the poster it should be obvious that this is another one of those movies in which an all female cast has taken over a previously male dominated franchise. Kind of like 2016's Ghostbusters reboot which, thanks to an online campaign that was pretty fucking abhorrent, I'm sure we all remember went down about as well as a Nun with a bad back . Although I imagine Ocean's 8 will still take some flack from the bigots, I suspect there's probably a couple of things going in its favour that'll help its chances of more successfully pulling this switch off. Unlike Ghostbusters, this all-female reboot doesn't wipe the slate clean from the previous continuity and unlike the original Ghostbusters, a lot less people give a fuck about Clooney's Ocean's 11. As a heist movie, Ocean's 8 must presumably look up to Redford and Newman's The Sting being as it's essentially the granddaddy of the genre. In which case I hope the biggest sting here is in the shrivelled bollocks of all the online fuck-weasels that are too insecure to tolerate diversity. 

As for the women in the film, I suppose it should almost go without saying that they're the best thing about it. Bullock and Blanchett's chemistry works to the point that I would have happily just had the film focus on the two of them with their other six friends on speed dial in case of emergency. When the rest of the team come in, Blanchett does seem to get a little side-lined, but with Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter also joining the party I suppose that's not the end of the world. Although it's worth mentioning that when Bonham Carter turns up, it is like somebody has dropped in a character from a Tim Burton movie in terms of looks. The very fact that those two are no longer a couple in real life is actual proof to me that almost every relationship is doomed to fail. Bonham Carter's character is a stylist and it's her job to insist that the person she's dressing is wearing an expensive necklace for the gang to steal. And yet whenever she's on screen I kept forgetting her character's purpose and simply assumed that if you look into her eyes then you'll receive a vision of your own death. Rihanna, who I'm informed is a popular singer, is also in this movie, but being that I don't listen to bland shit I'm not hugely familiar with her work. She's alright in the film, though. Her character pretty much just keeps to herself so unless Rihanna had decided to play her as though she was suffering from diarrhoea, I imagine it'd be pretty hard to mess up.

If there's any major problem with the film it's that it's very notable missing a man. And by that I very specifically mean one man in particular.. Steven Soderbergh. Ignoring the Frank Sinatra original, Soderbergh directed the original three movies with a sense of style that this film is sadly lacking. I mean I'm aware that Ocean's 13 was pretty average and that Ocean's 12 was just an out-and-out turd. The moment in that in which Julia Roberts's character gets past the actual Bruce Willis by pretending to be the real Julia Roberts will annoy me until the day I die. If we're acknowledging that Julia Roberts exists in this world and that the character that she plays just happens to look identical to her then why isn't she always being stopped on the street by fans? And does nobody ever notice that Danny Ocean and Rusty look a fucking hell of a lot like George Clooney and Brad Pitt? Not only is this the most eye catching gang of thieves ever but they could probably make a hell of a lot of money by just appearing at parties as look-a-likes. Or at the very least they could use their looks in their cons a bit more frequently than when they just happen to bump into Bruce fucking Willis. 

But ignoring all of that, Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's 11 felt like a Steven Soderbergh film. It had the jazzy editing and finger clicking sense of fun that appear in most of his pop-corn movies and it seemed to have a sense of its own Hollywood history behind it. Obviously it had its A-List cast too to get you through the film but he almost felt like a member of the group as well. By contrast this film is actually pretty bland in terms of its look and style. It's directed by Gary Ross but I'd bet that almost nobody could watch the film and know that before his name popped up in the credits. With Soderbergh's film's you felt like you were watching a magic show with the rug constantly being pulled from under you. However as Ocean's 8 comes to its close and reveals its various twists, it's not so much about the clever things that you missed as it is a reveal of some shit that they didn't actually bother to show you they'd been up to. Although in the film's defence I was getting a bit grumpy by this point because it was nearing the end in which James Corden had turned up like a bunch of sodden pubes at the bottom of your soup. I have no idea who likes him and I have no idea what there is to like about him? He's the ultimate personification of arrogance and I'm genuinely not sure about what talent he's being arrogant about having. But unless the character description simply says, “unlikeable twat”, then I don't like seeing him on screen. 

To Gary Ross's credit however, although the story and style might not be as good as Ocean's 11, he does seem to have catered the film to his female cast. Their con is one that literally requires them to be women to be able to pull it off but at no point do they accomplish it by having to seduce anybody or distract people with their collective titties. I appreciate that people think that any group that hasn't been represented on screen enough should create their own iconic characters instead of hijacking an already existing franchise... but that's just not how the world works. The only films that get any real attention are those that already have brand recognition and so I completely admire how the characters are handled in this movie. And like I said earlier.. if an all female cast want to reboot a film series then the Ocean's movies are pretty perfect for them. The men have had their go with only the 2001 version being really worth your time and so I look forward to seeing what happens next. I might not have been blown away by the story here but there's no doubting that the cast are fun and I'd happily watch an Ocean's 9 film with another female cast member added. Or maybe it should be Ocean's 7 next with each sequel killing off a member until the murderer is revealed in Ocean's 1. Although if after each death the characters are all offered a pie from Helena Bonham Carter, I guess it might be a little obvious. Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers.

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