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Ocean's Eleven

The Film:

One word should suffice to describe this film: Cool. Cool cast, cool script, cool director (Steven Soderbergh), cool music and cool clothes. But, this being a review written by me, you don't get just a one-word review. Oh no. I will, however, apologise in advance for not
being as entertaining as the film. In fact – give up reading now, go away and watch it if you haven't already. Ocean’s Eleven may not be the most brain taxing film of the year; it is however, possibly the most entertaining. All it wants to be is fun – and its success makes it a very satisfying film.

The plot is straightforward: Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is just released from prison, and comes up with a plan to heist three casinos and win his ex-wife back at the same time. Cue the gathering of ten other guys to help him, the set-up of the heist, the heist itself, and a speedy ending to wrap it all up. Ocean's 'Eleven' are: himself, Rusty (Brad Pitt)- his right hand man, Elliot Gould – the money, Eddie Jemison – the tech, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Bernie Mac, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle and Shabo Qin. The ex-wife, Tess, is Julia Roberts (in a witty 'and introducing…' credit) and the bad guy is Andy Garcia, playing it up wonderfully. You see where 'cool' comes in.

And they're all wonderful; no one tries to steal scenes off anyone else, although some (such as Garcia as casino owner Terry Benedict) just can't help themselves. Clooney is effortless; Pitt is the best thing in the film – one cover star who is NOT just a pretty face. Most of the Eleven are just in the background – but all get their moments. I'm still unconvinced as to Matt Damon's 'coolness' and his worthiness to be in this film, but he doesn't ruin anything. There are some real gems amongst the performances though: my personal favourites are Carl Reiner as Saul – his line, 'If you ever ask me that again, Daniel, you will not wake up the next morning' is one of the best in the script – and Eddie Jemison as Livingston Dell. Don Cheadle's accent is incredibly dodgy, I imagine it didn't help that his dialogue coach was reported to be an American.

There's not much else to say – there are the usual twists and turns of any heist film on the way to the finale. The joy of this flick is not the actual job, but the fun everyone has carrying it out. Soderbergh proves why he's the most wanted director in the business right now. From the audio-commentary (we'll get to that in a minute) it sounds like he found it the hardest film he's ever made, but it looks good. The scenes ease into each other – watch the cut from Brad Pitt driving a car full of balloons into a scene in the casino – and everything just looks glossy and gorgeous, no seedy Las Vegas for this lot.

To round it off, I believe I mentioned the cool music? Scored by David Holmes (who previously worked on Out of Sight) the music is incredibly funky: his own laid-back beats, with a mixture of songs – such as the original Little Less Conversation – that just fit perfectly, no Sinatra, no Martin, and no Robbie Williams. All in told Ocean's Eleven is a joy, so sit back, grab a drink, and relax.

The DVD:

First of all – my copy of this film is a Region 3 disc, which means I haven't had a chance to watch the DVD-Rom extras, since my computer just plays region 2 ones. Despite this, it's still a disc to enjoy. It has two commentaries, a couple of short 'designed for TV' features on the shooting and the costumes, plus trailers and cast biographies.

Featurettes first then: the Behind the Scenes is fairly basic, nearly all the cast and main crew appear briefly to add their two cents worth on the film, and talk about how much fun it all was. The only one who doesn't show up is Qin – who had never acted before this film, and who doesn't speak any English. Every extra on this disc just screams about how much fun the film was to make – for everyone except Soderbergh that is. 'The Look of the Con' is a little more interesting since with about the same running time as the Behind the Scenes it just covers the costumes. Being a movie star film, it required the stars to look, for the most part, like stars. Matt Damon is the exception, as the new criminal on the block, he is dressed not to fit, like a student.

The commentaries are the meat of this DVD – you can switch between them as you watch (guess what I'm doing right now…) and they're both fascinating. One features Soderbergh and the writer Ted Griffin, and is the more technical of the two. They discus the shooting of the film: Soderbergh's techniques, the casting of the film and how the script was made into the film. The other commentary features Matt Damon, Andy Garcia and Brad Pitt, and they talk about their perspective of filming. It is, to some extent, a love-in as they swap tales and jokes. It is, in fact, as cool as the film! Brad Pitt is the leader of the gang – his experience of doing commentaries on his David Fincher films shows – Matt Damon chips in from time to time, and Andy Garcia takes every opportunity to plug the score that he can get.

The film looks great on the disc, and sounds great as well – at least to me, who’s working off a 14-inch telly with no special gadgetry! So go, watch, have a cool time.


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