That’s Heavy

Best film review ever. And no, not biased…Pappa Johnny does good.

Ocean’s Thirteen: These mechanics sure know how to blow a roll

National Post

Published: Friday, June 15, 2007

Filmmaking is a collaborative art, so why isn’t film reviewing? Each week in this space, experts, artists and plain paying movie customers come together to take apart a recent release. It’s salty. It’s full of hot air. It’s the Popcorn Panel.

This week’s panel – John Boylan, actor in such fare as Fever Pitch and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (he played the cop) – Craig Courtice, a short filmmaker who isn’t very tall – Joseph Belanger, a film critic who writes at, voted Montreal’s No. 4 blog by the Mirror in Montreal This week’s film Ocean’s Thirteen

John Ocean’s Thirteen, the movie, ain’t as out to sea as I thought it would be. If you need a heavy in your movie, and your last heavy wasn’t heavy enough, then bring in a real heavy — Pacino. Whoa! That’s heavy, sister. Brother, that is heavy. The writer’s changed, too, although our well-known director friend Steven Soderbergh is back in the saddle for the third time. Would he be well-paid for that kind of work?

Craig Whatever Soderbergh gets paid, I guarantee another art-house flick is coming to cleanse him of this slick Hollywood stuff. But honestly, would Ocean’s Thirteen even be watch-able if it weren’t for Soderbergh’s touches? Such an underrated talent, especially since all anybody seems to know him from is these grown-up frat-boy romps. What about The Good German? The Limey? This guy hits .300 with decent power and steals 20 bases. He’s got range in the field and a cannon for an arm. Who else could turn a screenplay scribbled on a napkin into such a tour de force?

Joe Scribbled on a napkin? After how many drinks did this scribbling take place? Now, wait just one second. You might think I’m implying the scribbling followed one too many, but Ocean’s Thirteen is far from sloppy. No, I think Mr. Soderbergh could’ve benefited from adding a couple more shots of rum to his Coke before sitting down to craft this caper. Sure, it’s smooth, slick and sophisticated, but it also places its bets pretty safely. The house can’t lose with all the chips stacked in its favour. After winning big in the first round, watching those winnings slip away in the second, I can’t help but feel as if I’ve been sitting at this slot machine a little longer than I should. It must be all the pretty colours and flashing lights.

John Love the Las Vegas analogy. I was going to go with ocean, sea, water, but I felt like a drip so I washed that idea aside. On a serious note: I’m with The New York Times on this one. It’s soft, sweet and part of the whole trend to lower the level. One can see the excellence, but one can’t say that the movie (not a film) is an example of a “high level of excellence.”

The whole thing is a setup now. We go the first weekend. We are aware it is the first weekend. Then we all check the grosses, as if that is of any concern to us ordinary folks! But it is part of the setup. Then we have our “actors,” who are mostly combined media personalities. So again, the set-up. TV, magazines, movies, gossip, etc. I think, as you say, Joe, we the local, yokel gamblers lose and the house (studios) win. Every time.

(Can I sneak in that my boy Matt D. always takes it seriously and does the best acting of anyone? Can I?)

Craig Not only are you allowed to add the Matt D. comment, John B., but I am also allowed to agree. When it’s all said and done, even after Ocean’s 21 (blackjack, get it?), Damon will go down as the ultimatumest (his new movie is The Bourne Ultimatum, get it?) of the Nouveau Rat Pack. This dude’s got serious game. He can shoot the three (witness his awesome cameo in Eurotrip), he does the dirty work under the boards (Gerry) and he’s got the hops to Phi Slamma Jamma when he wants (The Departed). I’m partial to Clooney because he makes salt-and-pepper hair fashionable, but Damon can flat out ball.

Joe Was Matt Damon in this movie? I barely noticed. OK, I’m exaggerating. I saw him, his versatility and his nose. All I’m struggling to say is that for a movie with so much star power, there wasn’t too much shining happening. George and Brad (or Brad and George, if you prefer) could have phoned this baby in. They barely even seemed to be enjoying themselves. It’s a tad bit unfair to expect me to enjoy myself when they can’t be bothered themselves. With so many faces, performances were nearly reduced to cameos. It’s pretty much on par with your rant on the box-office numbers, John. You get in and get out as fast as you can with as much money as you can stuff down your pants. I just thought George was done with all of this. He’s a man of principle now, making movies for the movie’s sake and not the moolah. Anyway, I could’ve sworn I read that in an interview he gave while sunning on the beach at Cannes.

John That’s it. I say to George and Brad:Go fish–in the Ocean! Done! Let’s talk about Vittorio De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief. I think what’s great about The Bicycle Thief is that it’s realistic ?

Next week’s film Nancy Drew


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