Monday, October 6, 2014

Ocean's Eleven (2001)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writers:  George Clayton Johnson, Jack Golden Russell, Harry Brown, Charles Ledrer
Cast:      George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts

Daniel Ocean and his eleven accomplices plan to robe three Las Vegas casinos owned by Terry Benedict simultaneously. 

It is a remake of 1960 film with the same name and is supposed to be way better than the original. Soderbergh is a director who largely followed the principle of 'One film for me', 'One film for the studio' so that he could obtain the funds to cover the subjects that he really likes while still staying in the studio system. I am a big fan of his films in the former category (Sex Lies and Videotapes, Kafka, Limey, Traffic) but even while making commercial ones for the studio he managed to make some real good films like Contagion, Magic Mike, Side Effects, The Informant and last but not least Ocean's Eleven. From the films that I listed you may very well guess that am not a big fan of 'Erin Brockovich' and 'Out of Sight'. Soderbergh, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon are people with similar sensibilities with all of them being leftish liberals and from the outside looks like not the typical 'Egoistic Wanker' Hollywood type. Soderbergh, Clooney and Pitt had already made it in in Hollywood lark and Damon was still up and coming with Bourne Identity on the pipeline when Ocean's Eleven came out.

It is slickly made with an offbeat kind of humor which can be off-putting for some. Plot is a little complicated but not impossible to follow. The film has a twist in it but it is not really about that. Despite being billed as a crime thriller, it is really a cool comedy with big stress on the cool part. The same team followed up the film with Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen making it a trilogy. The second one a real bad film and third one is decent. I have seen all of them multiple times.

It seems Soderbergh is finally fed up with the studio system and the present state of Hollywood with him announcing retirement from making films and moving into TV with the HBO series 'Knick'. It is a real shame because some of the films that he made off late were all good except for Haywire. HBO TV movie 'Behind the Candelabra', for which he was not able to get a release in US, was also great with outstanding performances from Michael Douglas and Matt Damon. If I were to name my favorite Soderbergh films, then the current order would be something like:

1) Sex Lies and Videotapes
2) Kafka
3) Traffic
4) Contagion
5) Ocean's Eleven
6) Magic Mike
7) The Limey
8) Behind the Candelabra
9) The Informant
10) Side Effects
11) Ocean's Thirteen
12) Erin Brockovich
13) Out of Sight
14) Ocean's Twelve

Damn, he was a prolific filmmaker since I am yet to see many of his not so well rated films. With the Ebola outbreak and all that, I think it is a good time to revisit 'Contagion'.

Rating: 4.5/5