Friday, June 08, 2007

Ocean gets knocked Up

Okay, Danny Ocean does not get knocked up. He simply manages to knock his enemies down, yet again.

Ocean's Thirteen (2007, Directed by Steven Soderbergh): Rating 7.5/10

Dec 17, 2001. That was the day when I saw Ocean's Eleven. I still remember the date because of how things unfolded that evening. I was not having a good day when I decided to escape the chilly winter winds to watch the film. I throughly enjoyed watching the movie and felt a little bit better when I left the cinema. An hour later, I got some very good news -- my first ever film criticism article was published online. A bad day ended on a great note. Date & film stored in memory!

As much as I loved the first film, I didn't want to rush to see Ocean's Twelve. I happened to be in Madrid when the second film was released in December 2004. A giant billboard of the film greeted visitors to one of Madrid's busiest shopping districts. I must have crossed the billboard several times in my few days stay there and I was still not inclined to see the movie. But that changed. After a wild New Year's in Madrid's main square, I spent New Year's day relaxing and lounging around Madrid. On Saturday evening (Jan 1, 2005), I decided to catch Alejandro Amenábar's The Sea Inside at one of the theaters. But as I had expected, not a single theater had English subtitles for the Spanish film. Then to my surprize I discovered that all the major theaters were playing Hollywood films dubbed in Spanish! But my guidebook and a few locals informed me that there existed a few theaters which had the Hollywood films in original English but with Spanish subtitles. I finally found one such cinema off the main roads and decided to try my luck with the second installment of Danny Ocean's adventures. Except when I went up to buy the ticket, I told the cute Spanish girl at the box office that I wanted a ticket for Ocean's Eleven. She smiled and gave me the correct ticket for Ocean's Twelve.

I have to say that if I had not seen the second film in Europe, I would not have enjoyed it as much. The film started off with amazing music from the Gotan Project followed by a few European stop-overs. And you could hear laughter when a reference to Madrid's Prado museum was made in the movie. It was fun watching my first ever film in an European cinema, even though it was a Hollywood film.

Now since the third film returns back to Las Vegas where the first film was set, it was appropriate that I returned back to the same cinema where I started my love affair with this classy series. So it is good to see that Ocean's Thirteen still has the cool look and feel from the first film. Familiar elements such as the clever dialogues, peaceful visuals (blue and orange), Rusty (Brad Pitt) casually eating or holding a coffee cup while talking intelligently, the gang taking smart pokes at their rivals (or towards each other) are all there. The movie is plain fun to watch. But is there a point in even trying to ensure if there are any plot mistakes? Because everything is all smoke and mirrors. We are given just enough to get our interest, a little sophistication is thrown in to make the crime look impossible and then casually, everything goes smoothly according to plan.

It is seriously fun to watch characters with so much disposable income that they can plan a revenge robbery for 6+ months in a town where everyone knows everyone and all the criminals try to behave in a gentlemanly fashion. And if someone does not act appropriately, an honor revenge has to be performed! No police, no guns, no bullets, no blood but just smooth talk, some wine, a little seduction and a smart smile. Walk in and causally stroll out with the money. Nothing to it. All so easy. Want a $36 million drill? No problem! Want to start a revolution in a dice-making factory in Mexico? Once again, no problem!

At the end of a day, the three films are a guilty pleasure. Cool, relaxed fun. The style of the first film was a refreshing change from the usual gun happy heist films. But this relaxed style and clever dialogue seemed a little bit over-smart and over the top in parts of Ocean's Thirteen; it all felt like a cliche, something one expected from the characters. The same pattern appears in other directors and films as well -- what at first seems revolutionary gets tired after repeated usage. A little change does not hurt every now and then. Which is what the second film attempted with mixed results. So what now? Will Danny Ocean be back? I have to admit I wouldn't mind another adventure.

Knocked Up (2006, Director Judd Apatow): Rating 8/10

Boy sees girl. Girl takes a liking to boy. After a lot of drinks, the two have a one-night stand which results in pregnancy. What happens next? Things get complicated. The jokes get limited, the stress and frustration grow. But it is to the credit of the filmmakers that the drama does not choke the tender comedy out. The film carefully balances relationship issues plus the stresses of pregnancy in a smooth easy manner. The anger is handled delicately while giving the two lead characters, Ben & Alison, (Seth Rogen & Katherine Heigl) enough freedom to act their feelings out; it is nice to see that neither male or female is made to look like a villain.

The overall story might not be anything new but it is still entertaining to watch. Also it is a positive to see good screen time given to other characters. Each character is quirky and has his/her unique personality. When each character is acting insane or stupid, either Ben or Allison is always present in the frame. This prevents the sidekicks from being seen as mere stereotypes or caricatures but instead we see them as individuals whose interactions are essential to the personality of Ben and Alison. A lot of interesting characters but my two favourites were Paul Rudd's character Pete (a husband who is getting suffocated in his marriage and finds creative ways to keep his sanity) and the jealous employee/superior in Alison's office who tries to be nice but you can clearly see her malicious feelings.


Stegg said...

What I loved about knocked up was there were no obvious antagonists.. you could relate to almost everybody in the film.

I think Hollywood has a lot to learn from this movie

Heidi B said...

I loved this movie! Well balanced with several dynamics.

Heidi B said...

Any of the Ocean's movies could suck but I would still watch them. You can't get a better looking cast than that.

Sachin G. said...

Yeah Heidi, I do agree that the film has such great casting. It is easy to set sucked into Ocean's cool, seductive world. I do hope they do one more and maybe add another big name actor to the line-up. De Niro maybe? :)

Heidi B said...

DeNiro would be awesome! I love all of his work.

By the way, the movie I first responded to was "Knocked Up". That is one movie I don't think I would tire of seeing several times.