Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.
They pulled off one of the biggest heists ever and now they have another job to complete. Ocean's Eleven, which consisted off Danny Ocean (Clooney), Rusty Ryan (Pitt) and Linus Caldwell (Damon) and others, all thought they would be able to enjoy their money, but someone has other plans. Terry Benedict (Garcia) is still fuming after losing his money and wants it back. The team now have the job of getting all the money they spent back, or risk being thrown in jail. How are they going to get it all back? By pulling off another amazing plan.Written by
I'll go to see any Soderbergh film, but in the past I'd have to be prepared for them to be either one of his 'serious' or 'cash in' projects. Cashing in is okay, but I think his serious experiments say a lot about his intuitions and intents. They aren't the most intelligent experiments, but possibly the cream of the mainstream Hollywood director's establishment.
Here we get both rolled into one. Its not as edgy or visually intelligent as 'Good Thief,' but it has some elements.
First the bad: Soderbergh's notion of structure is the vignette. He'll shape a segment as if it were a skit with all else just backstory. For instance he has here a terrific piece where Pitt and Clooney as veterans and Damon as novice go to visit a Dutch heist coordinator. They converse in a highly abstract and idiosyncratic parablese which amuses us and flummoxes Damon. Damon inadvertently calls the boss's young niece a slut, and we are never sure who is putting on whom.
It is a wonderful orchestration of clever writing, spontaneous acting and intimate camera-work. These last two are a particular concern of Soderbergh's, but with a well-written shape it both confused and clarified in different directions. This one segment is the soul of the whole project: it amuses, it has a lot of collaborative, seemingly ad hoc acting, and it makes no sense.
This was never a heist film, instead it is in the con genre. That genre derives from the detective story where the writer is trying to fool the viewer (and some characters). In the con, some characters try to fool some other characters and the writer selectively covers and uncovers narrative so that the viewer is fooled as well.
Interesting twists happen when the viewer is fooled differently than the sucker character, or when there are multiple and parallel cons. The narrative folding comes in the parallel, warring realities that the viewer must surf. But always there is a resolution of the 'real' narrative, just as in the detective story. You always find out who is the fooler and who the foolee (including ourselves).
And as with the detective story, we are told just _how_ it is done. We expect this and have to be given some special reward if this doesn't happen.
It doesn't happen here. There is no way to go back and put together a story that makes any sense at all. Surely this could have been done, but the plain fact is that Soderbergh doesn't care and he wants us to know he doesn't.
Instead, he wants us to focus on his folding. He folds all his 'serious' films: movies about movies (more than four levels deep in 'Full Frontal') or about imagined reality. 'Limey' overlaid scattered intent with parallel jumpcuts.
In this case, he has Julia acting a character who pretends to be Julia. In an homage to 'The Player' he has Bruce Willis as her companion when Julia com Julia. You can just imagine him cackling with his players over this bit.
But it is all clever bits like this in the small: nothing clever at the scale of a real movie. For that, we'll have to wait until he stumbles away from his enchantment with the miracle of acting and discovers the miracle of long form writing.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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