Ocean’s 13 and Pearl’s 1

Ocean’s Thirteen was wretched. It had a bunch of good moments in it, apparently because it was written by the same guys who scripted Rounders. But that is no excuse.

Al Pacino was completely wasted. He plays a very genteel capitalist who’s in it for the money. I don’t know when Hollywood will learn that businessmen who really understand money are a drag. Maximizing profit and minimizing losses is not dramatic. Likewise heavy machinery operated by Don Cheadle.

Has there ever been a movie so claustrophobically male, ever? The only female character, played by Ellen Barkin, is given the equivalent of a roofie after approximately two scenes. Roofies are just so funny, you know?

I’m not going to announce that it’s an enjoyable popcorn flick, good clean entertainment that doesn’t require too much thought. Film studios spend millions of dollars on marketing. Is it really necessary for us all to voluntarily lower our expectations to the point where, at a cost of zero dollars to advertisers, we’ve talked ourselves into crap like this? There were so many spinning-top camera shots I thought I was going to lose my Junior Mints. The nostalgia for old, gangland Sinatra Vegas was like buying Casino as a flipbook at a truck stop.

The film is so desperately sick of itself that it tries to excuse its own behavior by comparing its reprisal plot (with us feeling sorry for laid-up Elliott Gould) to charity on Oprah and unionization struggles in Mexico — in other words, falling in love with the hard-luck stories of the Mexican workers. Perhaps Soderbergh meant to suggest that films need idealism to thrive, but he ends up suggesting that Mexican workers need his patronizing films. I think we would all willingly pay to see him devoured by Kim Jong-Il’s panthers.

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A Mighty Heart, in part because of the astoundingly bad title, was a film I lucked into seeing. There’s nothing like watching a film in a completely deserted theater. God bless you, Michael Winterbottom. I breathed in Karachi, I flashed on the terrorist infrastructures of modern states, and I realized that I haven’t laughed at a Jolie adoption joke for at least two months. Her hair was a little too perfect, though.

Daniel Pearl is played by the guy who wrote the script for Capote. Like the city where he dies — he seethes.

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Goodnight to you. –JK

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