Cinematic Storytelling: August: Osage County

I was fortunate enough to catch the original production of Tracy Lett’s Pulitzer/Tony Award-winning play, August: Osage County. I’ve seen the original Steppenwolf production in Chicago (pre-Broadway) as well as the Oregon Shakespeare production. When news of a film adaptation came, I remember reading in the trades how every A-Lister wanted to be involved in the film version. Now that it’s arrived in its cinematic form, it’s a film well-worth seeing. Sure, the play’s obvious heavy melodrama doesn’t translate as solid on screen as a fan of the play would hope yet the what rises to the top in this film version are the great performances by this amazing cast–a venerable who’s who, with everyone cast perfectly in their roles.

What I wanted to highlight about this film is how director John Wells really didn’t have a lot of opportunity to make the film breathe outside of the confines of the story. Sure, the strange  beauty of the piece is the claustrophobic atmosphere of Violet Weston’s (Meryl Streep, in fine form as always) dreary Oklahoma ranch home. Yet, when he does have the opportunity to show a little cinematic flair, it comes off rather beautifully and subtly–a huge contrast from the bravado of the performances. The film is sprinkled with wide shots of the Plains and old Western murals that truly give the film a much needed scope.

Yet a pivotal moment happens near the climax of the film with eldest daughter Barbara played by Julia Roberts (who gives a career-defining performance). Her estranged husband (Ewan McGregor) decides to bring their daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin) back home to Colorado. At this point in the movie, the themes are fairly obvious (generational sins, mothers/daughters, parenting, etc.) What’s wonderful about this scene is how subtle the transition happens from one family issue to another.

Jean, furious with her mother has daggers for her (1), after the debacle of the previous evenings’ incident. She decides to not speak and simply roll up the passenger car window revealing (2) her mother Barbara, in turmoil. The reflection falls right in front of her daughter’s face. Pure genius. Yet that’s not all. As we shift family issues, the camera pans up and as one car pulls away another arrives (3, 4) transitioning us to the film’s heartbreaking conclusion. It’s also fascinating to see how vehicles play a huge part in helping show the themes in the film.

August: Osage County is peppered with interesting cinematic flairs much like the example I show above. In my opinion it could have used more. See it for the performances.

Back to Bloggin’

One of the things I found myself doing more and more lately, especially last year was writing. Tons of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been writing ever since I could remember. I’ve written screenplays, short stories, essays and film reviews. After jumping into the world of podcasting last fall with a good friend and fellow filmmaker Sean Totanes, I found myself looking back at my old blog as I researched for whatever the topic of conversation was for that week. I can’t believe I started blogging ten years ago (!) and now here I am–reviving the form and sharing with those interested enough to read them.

I’m also back into production again, and nothing inspires me more than seeing great films. I’m excited for what 2014 brings.

The photo above is of course, my favorite filmmaker, Steven Soderbergh. He’s an inspiration.

2011: A Year In Film

Every year, I find myself immersing myself in entertainment, more so than the previous year and 2011 had some standouts–from movies, music, television to literature. So as usual, this is my yearly recap of what I loved, loathed and learned from the world of movies in 2011.

My 5 Favorite Movies of 2011

1. The Descendants

2. 50/50

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

4. Moneyball

5. The Ides of March 

Honorable Mentions: Horrible Bosses, We Bought a Zoo, X-Men: First Class, The Adventures of Tintin, The Artist, Hugo, Super 8, The Muppets, My Week With Marilyn, Drive, Crazy Stupid Love, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Attack the Block

My Best Picks for 2011 (Not Award Predictions)

Best Director – Martin Scorcese, Hugo

Best Actor – George Clooney, The Descendants

Best Actress – Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Best Supporting Actor - Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Supporting Actress – Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

Best Original Screenplay – Will Reiser and Seth Rogan, 50/50

Best Adapted Screenplay – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxton and Jim Rash, The Descendants 

Best Animated FeatureThe Adventures of Tintin 

Best Original Score – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

Best Original Song – “Life’s A Happy Song” from The Muppets

Best Visual Effects - Rise of the Planet of the Apes 

Best Art DirectionHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Best CinematographyWar Horse

Best Costume DesignHugo 

Best EditingThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

The 5 Worst Movies I Actually Wasted Hours of My Life in 2011

1. Abduction

2. What’s Your Number?

3. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

4. The Hangover Part II

5. Disney’s Prom

Cracking Whip and Wit: Indy IV Delivers

All the Indiana Jones movies open with the famous Paramount Pictures logo dissolving into some mountainous form, be it a South American peak in Raiders of the Lost Ark, an embossed emblem on a Chinese gong in Temple of Doom, or a dry boulder in Utah at the start of The Last Crusade. In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the long-awaited fourth installment in what may be one of the best franchises in movie history, the logo dissolves into a tiny prairie dog hill in Nevada located on the outskirts of Area 51. Perhaps director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas are reminding us at the start of the movie to keep our expectations low despite the arduous wait and growing anticipation we lovers of the series have endured. Still, the first frame of Crystal Skull is reassuring. To our benefit, those involved in resurrecting Indy after a 19-year hiatus have their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks.

Indiana Jones is back and he still kicks ass.

Crystal Skull delivers enough fun proving the naysayers wrong. It doesn’t match the unfairly high expectations Raiders of the Lost Ark
sets forth, which we all know is ultimately impossible. After all, we
are experiencing a movie that Spielberg and Lucas know how to do best. Crystal Skull makes all the imitators pale in comparison. Okay, so there are a few flaws but to complain about Indiana Jones is like complaining that your visit with an old friend went terribly awry because he or she wore the wrong shoes. Indiana Jones and the franchise itself is a throwback to those old-fashioned, B-movie matinee serials. (Buck Rogers, anyone?) The goal is simply to entertain and be swept away to another world. That doesn’t necessarily mean that filmmakers sacrifice quality storytelling. (Raiders, anyone?) Movies of this sort should be fantastical and off-the-wall—relentless in its adventurous spirit and bold in its often-implausible moments. We’ll go for the ride if the ride’s well worth it. These movies demand our imagination. Sadly, that’s the biggest obstacle Indy’s going to have to endure this summer. How can an old-fashioned adventure hero be relevant to the iPod generation, who’s perpetually plugged-in, apathetic and incredulous?

Ironically it’s technology that makes this movie less than stellar. For all it’s old-fashioned sensibilities, the use of CGI in Crystal Skull feel
painfully out of place, taking away the pure, visceral joy of what
makes an Indiana Jones movie—there’s no real, tangible sense of danger here, and the film suffers for it. Also, the dialogue could use a
little polishing. Perhaps screenwriters David Koepp and Jeff Nathanson try too hard to emulate the spirit of the earlier entries.

 

Crystal Skull is one gorgeous set piece after another, with purposefully garish lighting (very reminiscent of Last Crusade)
and out-of-this-world (literally) plot points. It’s now 1957, and the
bad guys are no longer the Nazi’s but the Commies. Dr. Jones is a
tenured professor who partners up with a young student named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) because their good friend Oxley, played by John Hurt, disappears while tracing the origins of this crystal skull—a quartz relic that evil Soviet agent Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) believes came from an earlier civilization, possibly form another world. On their quest, Indy and Mutt cross paths with one-time flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) who also happens to be (spoiler alert!) Mutt’s mother. There’s some healing to be had between Marion and Indy, and perhaps some secrets that need revealing. Throughout the film, we’re jampacked into loads of action, thrilling set pieces and lots of trap doors and hidden clues. The action is relentless. For example, when Spalko and Mutt cross swords above moving vehicles and other obstacles, it brings me back to the glorious action of pre-CGI movies—and I’m not just saying this as a fencer myself. It’s nice to see movies do good old-fashioned stunts again.

Thankfully, there are way too many strong points to overlook the weak ones. The best is Harrison Ford. Even if he’s older and wiser, his whip (and wit) still cracks and finally, Ford shines again in a role he was born to play. Composer John Williams and editor Michael Kahn give reliable work, be as they are Indy veterans having worked on all four films now. The supporting cast is great as well, with Cate Blanchett as the evil Ruskie dominatrix Irina Spalko complete with an over-the-top babushka accent. It’s also nice to see Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. Shia LaBeouf tries to keep up with his older counterparts and succeeds most of the time, even if his sensibilities seem a bit too 21st century. His strength has always been playing the young sarcastic, uber-cool know-it-all which LeBeouf doesn’t really get to display here since he’s suppose to be a cool kid in the 1950’s. Speilberg tries to immerse him in the era, even giving him a grand entrance a la Marlon Brando in The Wild Ones, complete with the hog, jacket and tilted cap.

 

Indy IV could also be considered a coming-of-middle-age story. There are plenty of over-the-hill jokes about Indy’s age. Besides, Spielberg, Lucas and Ford made the first three well into their thirties. Now they’re in their sixties and still going strong. Perhaps, that’s the coolest thing about this whole Indiana Jones resurrection. Underneath the excitement and brought out by Indy’s constant fatigue and “I’m-getting-too-old-for-this” comments is a celebration of journeys traveled. Those of us old enough to remember experiencing any one of the first Indy movies on the big screen are probably too old to be going around celebrating an iconic character of our youth by gorging on the merchandise and wearing fedora hats at the mall. (Raiders is the movie that made me want to become a filmmaker.) But having Indiana Jones back now that we’re older reminds us that life is full of adventures, no matter how old or young. It’s one thing to be old and another thing to do it the old-fashioned way.

And sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best way.

Welcome back, Dr. Jones. We’ve missed ya.

RATING: B+

Movies: The Best of 2007

It’s been a tumultous day for Hollywood, what with the Oscar noms announced, the ongoing writer’s strike and the sudden passing of talented actor, Heath Ledger. Still, 2008 so far hasn’t been that promising (was Cloverfield really that good? Same time last year, we already had Zodiac and Breach.) 2007 was actually a strong year for movies, and despite the recent ups and downs in Tinseltown, at least they have 2007 to look back to as quite a strong year. So here are my choices. You can always read my reviews on moviepatron.com

The 10 Best Movies of 2007

Michael ClaytonDefinitely a Best Picture dark horse, Clayton’s my favorite movie of 2007. It’s All the President’s Men for our generation harkening back to the good ol’ 70’s American cinema resurgence. Tony Gilroy is quickly becoming my new hero and Clooney is the definitive leading man of our time. Read my MoviePatron.com review.

Paris J’TaimeA gorgeous mosaic of short films that focuses on love in the City of Lights. Some of the short films aren’t that impressive but thankfully there are more hits than misses. My favorite is Alexander Payne’s entry. And the Coen Brothers.

Sweeney ToddIt’s perfect synergy. Take Sondheim’s masterpiece and give it to the right director with the right leading man. What you get is a movie musical that you’ll never forget. Read my MoviePatron.com review.

Charlie Wilson’s WarIt’s Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams headlining the cast. It’s Mike Nichols at the helm, directing Aaron Sorkin’s gorgeous prose. What’s not to like? Okay, so the subject matter is a bit disturbing, but never has it been dealt with with such panache.

Knocked UpJuno may have gotten all the praise but I’m still affectionate towards this movie’s low-key sensibilities. Judd Apatow makes smart movies about regular people. Ten times better than Superbad.

OnceSupposedly Steven Spielberg’s favorite movie of 2007 and rightfully so. The movie takes the musical genre and spins it on its head. Great songs. Even greater performances. And it’s shot on digital video! Hopefully this will inspire Spielberg to adapt Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods.”

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford It was this or 3:10 to Yuma but I was won over by Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck’s performance. Roger Deakin’s cinematography is gorgeous and the whole Western, though somber, strikes a surprisingly resonant chord. A great year for Westerns—the best since Unforgiven.

No Country for Old MenThe Coen Brother’s need love, really. It’s about time. The movie is reminiscent of Miller’s Crossing and Fargo, which admittedly are better fares from the siblings. No Country gets props for bringing them back to that realm again.

The Bourne UltimatumUpping the ante for spy movies to come, (hear that, Mr. Bond?) the Bourne series ends on a high note. The best of this year’s threequels, Matt Damon proves that he’s a bona fide action star. And what a supporting cast, led by Oscar nominees David Strathairn and Joan Allen.

Ocean’s ThirteenA sentimental favorite but thankfully the film did deliver the goods. I love movies with old-fashioned sensibilities and the whole “shaking Sinatra’s hand” thing is something younger generations should take heed to. The movie is a great reminder of bringing back the lost art of being a gentleman. Props to Clooney and Co. (review)

Honorable Mentions
3:10 to Yuma, 300, Across the Universe, American Gangster, Atonement, Away From Her, Breach, Enchanted (review), Gone Baby Gone, Hairspray (review), I’m Not There, Live Free or Die Hard (review), Lust, Caution, The Lives of Others, Ratatouille, The Savages, Stardust, Surf’s Up, There Will Be Blood, Waitress, Zodiac

The 5 Worst Movies of 2007

Rush Hour 3
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Smokin’ Aces
Norbit
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Best DVD Releases of 2007

Overall – Blade Runner: 5-Disc Definitive Edition (Blu-Ray)

Best Standard DVD Release – Transformers: 2-Disc Special Edition

 Best Blu-Ray Release (tie) – Hairspray: 2-Disc Shake & Shimmy Edition | Disney/Pixar’s Cars: Special Edition

Best Box Set (tie) – Stanley Kubrick Collection (Standard DVD) | Harry Potter 1-5 Collection (Blu-Ray)

 Best Catalog Re-Release – Taxi Driver: 2-Disc Collector’s Edition (Standard DVD)

Best TV on DVD Release – Planet Earth (Blu-Ray)

Best Specialty DVD Release (tie) – Pixar Short Films Collection, Volume 1 (Blu-Ray) | Battleship Potemkin: Kino 2-DVD Set (Standard DVD)

The Trouble With Harry

(My MoviePatron.com Review)

Playtime is definitely over in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. In the first few minutes of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, our boy, er, man Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) performs necessary magic to save himself and his muggle relatives. Right then and there it’s clear; childhood has become a dream of the past. Gone are the days of Quidditch and chocolate-covered frogs. For any kid Harry’s age, the scariest reality is the notion of growing up.


Underneath the darker tones, nifty visual effects and the high production values, Order of the Phoenix works best once you realize that it’s simply a strong coming-of-age story making the fifth installment of this well-crafted franchise a worthy entry; if not necessarily its best or most eloquent. It’s not as rich as Alfonso Cuaron’s Prisoner of Azkaban and perhaps much more disjointed than Goblet of Fire. Here, director David Yates and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg make it clear that this latest saga is a transitional piece—a placeholder during a phase of growth teasing us with uneven jolts of something far more thrilling, more sinister and perhaps even more enjoyable in things to come. A clever parallel to or our trio of heroes, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), and Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson), who also seem to be stuck in a similar phase of growth: puberty.

This time around, Harry faces a prickly new teacher, Miss Umbridge, played with delight by Imelda Staunton. She’s the epitome of that cheery, suburban socialite—like one of those church ladies you know who’s got an evil side underneath that plastered smile. But her veneer is convincing. No one believes Harry except for a trusty handful. Bureaucracy, in the form of the Ministry of Magic, has become such a negative commodity in the wizarding world that you wonder if it’s a social commentary on the part of the filmmakers or the author. Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) haunts Harry in his nightmares, and the increasing denial of evil reignites an order to stand against it, not just in the wizarding world, because sadly this evil sorcery has trickled into ours. All this lies on the fate of Harry, and his weariness is all the more apparent. Finally, Harry comes to his own and Radcliffe nails the character down in perhaps his best performance as the kid wizard.

There is magic and mayhem all around, and loads of exposition but make no mistake, this is Harry’s darkest tale yet. When Harry recalls his encounter with the Dementors, those ghost-like creatures in black tattered threads, you can’t help but agree with him. “It was as though all the happiness had gone from the world,” An accurate description of the film’s tone. Perhaps younger viewers will find it scarier and dragging at parts, but fans of the series will eat this up. It’s nice to see the characters progress no matter their direction, and of course there’s That Kiss, which in my opinion, falls a bit flat and forced.


The key to the Harry Potter films is that all-star British cast. With such names as Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Emma Thompson, Jason Isaacs, Robbie Coltrane, Fiona Shaw, Richard Griffiths, Brendan Gleeson, David Thewlis, George Harris and Julie Walters, you’d think a cast like this would be doing rep for a Royal Shakespeare Company production of ‘Mother Courage.’ Instead, they’ve all come together to be part of a Hollywood blockbuster targeted for a much younger demographic then they are all probably used to.

Perhaps the most advantageous aspect of the entire Harry Potter universe is synergy.

Credit can go to J.K. Rowling, the author/creator of the franchise, or perhaps to Warner Bros, for cleverly marketing their now profitable acquisition, turning what started out as a small English children’s novel into a blockbuster tentpole. Yet, the real credit goes to the fans.

Take for example my little sister, a die-hard fan that has grown up reading the books, watching the movies, and gorging herself in the merchandise. She’s roughly Harry’s age, so she’s practically grown up along side Harry, reading his memoirs of Hogwarts and finding relatable experiences with Hermoine Granger. Now when the last book is finally published in a few days, all those summer evenings of reading the books together with friends, going on trips to see the latest Potter movie in the local Cineplex, and most importantly, helping them pass through that awkward ‘tween’ phase of crushes and growing pains—all that will become part of their childhood memories because they grew up with Harry Potter, and Harry Potter on the other hand helped them grow up.

RATING: B-

No Silver Lining

CGI, also known as computer generated visual effects, has become a celluloid plague.

Even though Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer clocks in under 90 minutes, the movie lags and meanders in and out of clichés, vacuous characterization, and pseudoscientific gibberish. What can be more unsatisfying than watching visual effects for the sake of visual effects? I was hoping that the addition of the Silver Surfer this time around could bring the Fantastic Four out of B-list superhero mediocrity. Instead, he really doesn’t do or add much.

Looking like a shiny hood ornament, the Silver Surfer (Doug Jones, voiced by Laurence “Morpheus” Fishburne) glides in and out of the screen but he’s as weightless and dull as Jessica Alba’s acting chops. You can’t help but realize that the bulk of this movie is CGI, and the glossy surfer dude loses much of his shine when you come to that realization and it’s hard to shake off. There’s also not much to latch unto in terms of characterization and plot. At least the first film dealt with weighty issues of identity and family, and it was slightly fun to see Johnny Storm a.k.a. the Human Torch (the hammy Chris Evans) in action. In the sequel, Johnny’s fireball CGI is supposedly upstaged by the Silver Surfer, only because we are told so. As Johnny watches the Silver Surfer exit a skyscraper unharmed through an energy field in slo-mo, Johnny reacts “that is so cool.” Hey, if he said so, so shall we believe.

This constant spoon-feeding from recent visual effects-driven blockbusters is what stalls them. We’re not a dumb audience. We know what we like and we know what works.

Yet I’ll admit that the movie garnered a few light chuckles now and then, and it isn’t as convoluted as some recent blockbusters of late. Also, truth be told, the Fanastic Four are generally likeable characters. Non-offensive even if a bit bland. Ioan Gruffudd does what he can as Reed Richard’s a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic and Michael Chiklis is reliably gruff as Ben Grimm a.k.a. The Thing. Although Julian McMahon deserves props as he plays up the villainy and smarminess of the evil Dr. Doom. He’s got a believable handle on the character and its loads of B-movie fun to see our favorite TV plastic surgeon play a well-loved comic book villain.

Slapped with a guaranteed box-office PG rating, the Fantastic Four franchise needs to find its footing. In my opinion, it could use more bite come Fantastic Four 3 (yes, expect it). I brought my little sister along and even she found it a bit juvenile. About halfway through the film, she leaned over to me and whispered “You look bored.”

Maybe I was. A gluttony of CGI does not a movie make. If that’s the case, then I can just go home and stare at my screensaver for 90 minutes.

RATING: D

Shake Sinatra’s Hand

After a dismal start to a summer that seems to be marketed towards geeky fanboys drooling over confused pirates and superheroes, Ocean’s Thirteen whizzes along as a smart and cheeky film–one that delights filmgoers who aren’t all that interested in CGI and marketable toy products but snappy dialogue, witty repartee and heady filmmaking techniques. Oddly enough, O13 feels a bit misplaced in a summer filled with fraternity-minded comedies and nerdy threequels. Director Steven Soderbergh, George Clooney and company have fashioned a tart, pure but hardly simple movie among bloated blockbusters. You can’t help but notice. O13 is like that one fashionable yet appropriately dressed gal in a picnic filled with girls in jogging outfits and sweats–she’s classy and simply stands out among the rest.

At the film’s core, this “class act” act is the point of it all, and a rather fine one at that. Soderbergh and the gang remind us how being a class act goes a long way. It’s a throwback to the lost art of being a gentlemen, and who would have thought that a bunch of fictional merry thieves would bring that into light?

This time around, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) enlist the gang to take revenge on casino owner Willy Bank (an understated Al Pacino) who ousted the ailing Reuben Tishkoff (an excellent Elliott Gould) from a partnership deal in owning their latest venture; an Asian-inspired casino on the strip shaped like ribbons. This sends Reuben to grave illness, almost to the point of death. Of course, no one does that to one of Ocean’s Eleven. Reuben reminds Willy that he can’t do that. “We shook Sinatra’s hand,” Reuben pleads. “Screw Sinatra’s hand!” Willy rebuttles. At that point, the driving force of the movie becomes clear. Even rich guys have no class.

The boys have no choice but to take revenge and bring down Willy’s casino on its grand opening, meaning they’ve got to rig the house to lose. As expected, there are lots of witty back-and-forth banter from the boys–dialogue that would make Howard Hawks proud, and of course obstacles along the way that seem impossible to the downright farfetched (a man-made earthquake). But still, you can’t help but root for the gang. Their motives are clearly backed up by a sincere sense of friendship and honor. Also, who else would you trust to take down the house in Vegas? Danny Ocean of course, and what fun–if for at least two hours–is it to see a house in Vegas lose? Those of you who’ve placed bets there would certainly agree with me.

Of course with Reuben, who often funds for all of Ocean’s expensive capers, being bed-ridden, who else are the boys to turn to for financial support? It’s the old adage of “the enemy of your enemy is your friend.” There’s no surprise that the 13th member of the group is no other than their former nemesis Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).  Benedict wants to see Willy go down in flames because Willy’s new hotel casts a shadow over his Bellagio fountain pool. But then again, perhaps there’s more to Benedict than we think.

The film’s charm is undeniable and it has the cool slickness of the first, and the sheer audacity of the second. If the first film was an exercise in style and coolness, and the second being a frivolous (if not always successful) commentary on success, the third one is all about honor and friendship. It’s a fitting ending to our boys. But it’s not all sappy. The film is loaded with fun gags. The opening shot is amazing and the pay-off is hilarious. There’s duping the NightFox (Vincent Cassel) all over again (yep, he’s back) and well-placed Oprah jokes. There’s jokes about “soft openings” and Vegas traditions that pay off so cleverly and so well. The third time around, there is evident homages to the heydays of the Rat Pack and that lost Vegas myth of glamour and style. There’s much more throwback here than there was in the previous two installments, and for fans of that lounge-era, this is a welcoming touch.

Throwback has been the film’s engine from the get-go. Roman Nagel, the euro-tech guy from Ocean’s Twelve played with such delight by Eddie Izzard reminds Danny and Rusty that they have become “analog players in a digital world.” Rusty and Danny are perplexed, and rightfully so. Perhaps it’s a response to how fluffy popcorn flicks of this nature have become callous CGI videogame-like drones. Yet I think it’s a strong response to how gentlemen like Danny and Rusty aren’t the ones who are no longer in touch with the world we live in, but the other way around. It goes back to the whole notion of being a class act. Even though they’re genial thieves, they’re still thieves nevertheless, but at least they understand the meaning, the properties and social norms of being gentlemen.

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Perhaps it’s too much to ask. After all, this is the summer of pirates, ogres and toy robots. Clooney’s Ocean remind’s Pacino’s Willy that “he shook Sinatra’s hand once. You should know better.” Definitely a jab at Willy for not having any class.

Too bad. Half the summer moviegoers don’t even know who Sinatra is.

RATING: A-

The art of motion pictures from a filmmaker's perspective.

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