Ocean’s Twelve (2004) Film Review

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So, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is back out of jail (again) and he and the rest of the eleven have found things to spend their millions on. But Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) has found them, and insists on compensation. And then there is Francois Toulour (Vincent Cassel), a super-rich, super-clever gangster who wants to compete against Ocean to be considered the best thief in the world, and Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones) a beautiful police officer who was dating Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), but now is set to catch him and arrest him.

Again, there is a lot of fun, trickiness and playing with expectations, but it is, yet again, ruined for me by the representations of the females in the film. At least Tess (JuliaRoberts) gets a bit of a better go this time, actually doing something (even if she is forced into it by a whole bunch of men she doesn’t even know… creepy) (although seeing her play a character pretending to be Julia Roberts was a lot of fun). Then there is the Catherine Zeta-Jones character, a high-ranking police officer who is driven to fraud by her emotions – the need for revenge against her ex, and who (spoiler alert) is manipulated into giving up her very successful career by the very same ex and her father, who she believed was dead. Men manipulating women a lot. Way to spoil a good, fun film.

 

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) Film Review

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Danny Ocean (George Clooney) has two goals when he gets out of jail; to win back his ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts) and to rob the casino that belongs to her current beau, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia). He gets together a crack team of specialists (ten others to be exact… hence the Ocean’s Eleven).

A heist film is great. A casino heist film is even better. And with a whole bunch of hunks and spunks, clever writing and fun technology, plus twists that have you thinking one thing then it flips? What more could one want? How about a half decent female character in here? There is only one woman of any significantce in this film, and she is an object to be possessed. What’s more (spoiler alert), when she learns that her current beau is not the nicest guy, does she go and work her own life out? Hells no. She goes back to the man who lied to her and ruined her life. Sheesh, this film would have been better with no women at all. Annoying, because I really liked the rest of it.

 

Mirror, Mirror (2012) Film Review

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A retelling of the classic tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, with a couple of key changes. The evil queen, played by Julia Roberts, needs to marry Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer)to keep being able to spend lots of cash. She has kept her stepdaughter locked up, but when Snow White (Lily Collins) gets out and sees how the kingdom is starving, she vows to find a way to get her kingdom back. Along the way she meets a group of bandits, the seven dwarves (Martin Klebba, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Jow Gnoffo, Danny Woodburn, Sebastian Saraceno and Ronald Lee Clark) and they help each other.

I thought this was pretty darned good initially, although at moments, I think the story was sacrificed for gags, which was a shame. And then it ended with a crappy Bollywood number. I quite like Bollywood, the glitz, the glamour, the music. But not when it is totally out-of-place and not when it is crap.

Anyhow. The costumes were amazing. Never before have I wanted to be a princess, but if I could get those outfits, I’d do it in a second. And, unlike Snow White and the Huntsman, thanks for highlighting the work of some top short statured actors – here were seven top performances, and Peter Dinklage wasn’t even in it. Now, if only we could see a bit more from the chicks, that’d be ace.

Mirror, Mirror was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Costume Design.

 

August: Osage County (2013) Film Review

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Beveley Weston (Sam Shepard) an alcoholic academic goes missing, and the three daughters he had with pill-popping wife Violet (Meryl Streep) return to support her. But each have their secrets and problems leading to a massively volatile time.

I saw this as a play by MTC a few years ago and loved it. I especially loved the set, but seemed to recall that the script was very impressive. Hence, I was concerned about watching the film; would it hold up? Would it be overwhelmed by the big names in the cast? (Meryl Streep, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin and Benedict Cumberbatch as the main names)

I think it held up extremely well. It’s certainly not a happy film; if you are ever feeling that you are taking your family for granted, watch this. You will love them so much more. So many horrible people in one place.

It is surprising that the film has only been nominated for awards for acting in the Oscars and Golden Globes. With such a strong story and excellent performances, I would have expected it would at least be nominated for Best Film. It’s a far better film that The Wolf of Wall Street. But then, it wasn’t directed by Martin Scorsese, and the main performances are by women. It seems to be a bit of a pattern for the awards I’ve noticed; the films that have been nominated for best performances by actresses are less likely to appear in the best film category than the films nominated for best performance by actor. Sexist? Or are women just not getting leads in good films? Are male stories better? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

Interestingly, just after I wrote this, I was sent a link to an article about sexism in the film industry featuring Olivia Wilde. Here it is. She took part in an experiment with some male actors reading aloud from the script of American Pie, only swapping male and female parts. The ladies got the laughs, the guys got bored. Interesting. (I should note that I don’t know anything about PolicyMic. It’s just the link I read. Lazy journalism? I’m not a journalist. FYI)

August: Osage County was nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Meryl Streep), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Julia Roberts), for Golden Globes for Best Actress in A Motion Picture,  Musical or Comedy (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Julia Roberts) and for a BAFTA Supporting Actress (Julia Roberts).

Valentine’s Day (2010) Film Review

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What happens when you get a whole bunch of stars together to tell a whole bunch of stories? Valentine’s Day. And much as I expected to dislike it, being very Hollywood and corny… I loved it. I loved the romance, I loved the slightly unexpected twists (and that many of the twists were not that unexpected), it was just great.

I’m not going to try to recount the plots – there were just so many intertwining. All you need to know is that in LA on this particular Valentine’s Day, heaps of people interact. Some get together, some don’t, some break up, some rekindle their love. It’s gentle and fun and has a huge cast. If you get sick of the stories, you can spend some time trying to name everyone in the film. This is a great film to know for playing 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.