December 19, 2004

Overpaid Actors Entertain Themselves


About a week ago, Cinecultist watched Ocean's Twelve, now referred to with fondness as The Twelve. Who knew a vanity project like this, chock-a-block with self-indulgent stars, and a sequel to boot could be so darned entertaining? It only goes to show that Steven Soderbergh is really The Man. At least when it comes to constructing likable Hollywood product, when he could be just paid to phone it in.

Right after she went to see it, our friend Ilana, programmer of the Twelve Days of the Cloon, called to warn us that The Twelve is a heist movie with no heist. Knowing this before you go to see the film will alleviate any pesky desires for causal plot. One of the strengths in The Eleven is the way the camera shows us every little black leather clad detail of the casino's heist. But this time out, Soderbergh eschews revealing for obfuscation, otherwise known in less skillful hands as inside jokes. Like the scene depicted in the still above where the young Matt Damon goes along with George and Brad for a sit down in an Amsterdam "café" to discuss business with one of their contacts. Like those weirdo childhood games where your statement has to include certain letters or images to count as a clue, the other three men seem to know how to communicate while Matt's character is completely useless.


No one in this is taking it all to seriously, except for perhaps Vincent Cassel, who plays François Toulour, the master thief and playboy trying to out nab Danny Ocean. Silly, silly man. Doesn't he know who he's dealing with here? This is the Cloon, in all of his middle-aged, salt and pepper, impeccable suits, rakish grin firmly planted glory. Look at the international super star go, as he does what he does so well. But getting back to Vincent, aka Mr. Monica Bellucci, he keeps himself in good shape. The sequence where he break-dances through a laser field is worth the price of admission alone. Though, the scene where he works out in those white pajama pants is pretty damn good too.

With so much loveliness and finesse and sleek little roadsters motoring up to Lake Como villas (remember Ilana, when you're Mrs. The Cloon, we're coming for late summer visits), it seems perfectly acceptable to ignore the less than stellar performances or bits that pop up. Yes, we're looking in your directions Andy "One Step From Liberace" Garcia and Julia "Look, I'm Preggers!" Roberts. Or rather, we have our fingers in our ears and are singing, while you're on screen. No hard feelings. With this much unabashed movie fun going on, we don't feel guilty about shunning you a bit.

Posted by karen at December 19, 2004 9:48 PM