Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) Film Review

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Like the two films leading up to this, it’s a big, exciting heist film with lots of misdirection and cleverness. This time, it’s all about revenge on Willy Bank (Al Pacino), a casino operator opening a new hotel, who has ripped off one of their own, Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould), causing heart failure and a coma.

My big issue with the last two films was the women in the film having very little character and being (sometimes willingly) manipulated very obviously by the men of the film. This time, it wasn’t the wives or girlfriends. The one female in the film, Bank’s top assistant Abigail Sponder (Ellen Barkin), initially appears to be in control and in charge, strong and spotting the bullshit being weaved around her. Then, she is painted as a ‘cougar’ (such an insulting term, but I won’t get started on that one today) and manipulated into seducing Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon), one of the eleven who is playing a character as part of the plot. I guess the big question is – how good does the film need to be to be able to ignore this? (Or perhaps a bigger question – after being annoyed by this in the first two films, why did I go on to watch the third?)

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.

 

Behind the Candelabra (2013) Film Review

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It’s the late 70s. Librace (Michael Douglas) is at the height of his fame, playing to sold-out houses in Las Vegas, wearing his trademark outrageously spectacular outfits, masses of jewelry and playing a mirror-covered grand piano. He is introduced to Scott Thorson (Matt Damon), a young, beautiful and naïve young man and they begin a romantic relationship. Over the course of the relationship they are faced with a variety of challenges including fame, plastic surgery and drugs.

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The story itself is interesting; an older, highly successful performer seeks love and companionship from a younger man and uses his money and success to obtain this. For me, there were two key things that made this film for me. The first was the legend of Liberace. I’ve always known who Liberace was; a flamboyant pianist who, despite the high camp of his outfits and his act, was not known as a gay man to the general public. The second was the performances. Michael Douglas was fabulous as Liberace; he was such a larger-than-life character, and any portrayal was going to have some element of cariacature. But Douglas brought heart to the character. Matt Damon showed the rise of fall of Thorson, from the innocent farm boy to the arrogant lover of a very wealthy man. And then there is Rob Lowe. Lowe plays Dr Jack Startz, the creepy, overly-face-lifted plastic surgeon. Every moment he is on screen is magnificent. Truly magnificent.