Ocean’s Twelve is probably the least regarded of the Ocean’s Trilogy, and while it does get a little too self-aware (having Julia Roberts play Julia Roberts who actually ISN’T Julia Roberts…yeah), it’s still more fun than most movies that ever get made. If the ensemble from the first one was star-studded enough, the sequel added Catherine Zeta Jones, Bruce Willis, Jared Harris, Robbie Coltrane, and Vincent Cassel to the cast. The heart of the fun, and the reason why the Ocean’s films are so rewatchable, is the real-life friendship between Clooney, Damon, and Pitt translating so well onscreen. In terms of their characters, the Ocean’s movies are elaborate heists that give Clooney and Pitt a chance to screw with Damon. Linus is trying so hard, and Rusty and Danny appreciate it, but it’s not really a heist if they can’t work him into a panic. One of their best “scare Linus for kicks and giggles moments” is when they meet with Robbie Coltrane’s character in a bar to set up what they need, and all three begin talking in complete nonsense phrases leaving Linus scrambling to try to work out to say…and that just goes very badly.
“How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never really been in a fight?” Brad Pitt asks it of Edward Norton shortly after they meet, and people (particularly men) have been asking each other the question ever since David Fincher’s 1999 anarchic masterpiece was released. Based on the equally (and oddly quite wise) novel by Chuck Palahniuk. Fincher’s film is a unique and insightful look at the societal neutering of the American male. I’m going to write this from the standpoint of one…since that’s what I happen to be. Men are hard-wired for aggression. We want to punch stuff. We like to see things blow up, destroyed, and laid low. We’re hunter-gatherers at our core. Now we spend 40 hours a week in a sea of grey cubicles, and our weekends at Bed, Bath & Beyond. There’s something missing. We’re missing a key part of ourselves and it manifests in bottles of whiskey and Prozac. We don’t know ourselves, because most of us haven’t been in a fight. That’s why Fight Club (which didn’t do well in theaters) became a cult sensation. It touched a nerve with men. It was a revelation.
Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Fight Club (1999) “Welcome to Fight Club”
If you’re not a baseball fan and you’ve never watched Moneyball because of that, here’s a great piece of news: it’s not really a baseball film; it’s a film about economics. Wait. No. That doesn’t make it sound more exciting. Moneyball by Michael Lewis is a book that changed the way baseball is viewed by fans and baseball personnel. It attempted to explain how the Oakland A’s, a team with a payroll a fraction of the size of, say, the Yankees, Red Sox, or Dodgers, is consistently in contention for a spot in the World Series. The answer is: they don’t sign players or people; they sign numbers.
The Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane became the disciple of a formula that looks for players who simply get on base. Getting on base produces runs; runs produce wins. Moneyball is the story of his crusade to change how baseball is run, and only Michael Lewis, who is the best writer on economic matters to people who have no understanding of economics (hi), and Aaron Sorkin, who can make any subject compelling and fun, could have put together a movie version of that crusade that is riveting. It’s one of Brad Pitt’s best performances, as Beane fighting the entirety of the A’s to make his vision work, and one of the film’s best scenes comes before things start to click and he stumbles upon an upbeat locker room after another loss that Beane knows he’s going to have to answer for to everyone.
The ensemble for Ocean’s Eleven can stand against pretty much any film ever made, containing EIGHT Oscar-winning/nominated actors and actresses (Elliot Gould, Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and Andy Garcia) and that doesn’t even count NINE-time Emmy winner and legend Carl Reiner in his final major role or the Golden Globe and Emmy nominated Bernie Mac. That’s a cast! Unfortunately YouTube was unable to give me the whole assembling of the 11, so I cobbled it together the best I can from four clips. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Ocean’s Eleven (2001) “Putting the Team Together”