Tag Archives: George Clooney

My thoughts on: Hail Caesar! (2016)

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Given how expensive going to the movie theater is for me, I do my best to research any upcoming movie I’m not absolutely sure about before I go and plunk down my hard-earned money to go and see it (Star Wars and James Bond are pretty much the only safe bets anymore). Hail Caesar! (2016) is an example of me going in, doing the research beforehand and being oh so very wrong about what I was going to get.

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On paper, Hail Caesar! sounds like a great film. Set in the 1950s during the latter years of Hollywood’s golden studio era, the film follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a “fixer” who is trying to discover the whereabouts of big movie star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) after he disappeared from the set of a biblical epic production (the titular Hail Caesar! which is a cross between Ben-Hur (1959) and Quo Vadis (1951). At the same time, unmarried synchronized swimming actress DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johannson) discovers she’s pregnant, which would cause a huge scandal if it became known. There’s also the career tribulations of Western star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) who ends up shoehorned into a “classy” drama picture that is totally unsuited for him.

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So far so good right? Well…while the opening was pretty good, the rest of the film devolved into a convoluted mess. It turns out that Clooney’s Whitlock was abducted by a group of Communists who spend the rest of the film explaining their doctrines to the actor (said doctrine is explained in mind-numbing detail). And speaking of Communists, it’s also revealed that Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), one of the studio’s biggest stars is a Communist sympathizer who defects to the Soviet Union via a Russian submarine that arrives just off the shores of Malibu (I couldn’t make this up if I tried).

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Aside from the convoluted plot that practically careens from one crazy moment to the next with little to nothing to connect them (we’re basically getting four separate stories in one film), a lot of the action is cringe-worthy, especially Alden Ehrenreich’s scenes (this is why I’m so nervous about him playing Han Solo in the upcoming Solo film). There’s a particularly bad moment where, in a scene that runs way too long, Ehrenreich’s character Doyle is attempting to enter a room and say a “witty line” in this dramatic picture he’s been forced into. The audience is forced to endure over ten takes of this scene (at least it feels like that many if not more) where he stumbles over his lines over and over again. The only part of this film that I actually enjoyed are the “movie within a movie” moments where we’re treated to scenes from the movies that are being filmed on the Hollywood sets. These include:

  • scenes from Hail Caesar! including one that directly parodies a famous scene in Ben-Hur where a character comes face to face with Christ and is awed by his presence.
  • an Esther Williams-like synchronized swimming scene
  • a Gene Kelly inspired song and dance routine
  • scenes set in a traditional Western film

Outside of those scenes (which perfectly capture life in 1950s Hollywood) there’s really nothing to recommend this film.

What did you think of Hail Caesar! ? Did you enjoy it or do you also think it’s a dud? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day 🙂

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A Random Thought on Ocean’s 13 (2007)

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(yes I skipped over Ocean’s 12, I’m weird like that)

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When I watch a movie, there are few things quite as satisfying as watching the bad guy get what he/she has coming to them; the more drawn out the comeuppance is, the better. So it should be no surprise that after discovering the glory that was Ocean’s 11 (2001), I absolutely fell head-over-heels for Ocean’s 13 (2007), because this story is all about sweet, sweet revenge!

The story finds Danny Ocean and his crew out for vengeance after Willy Bank (Al Pacino) screws Reuben (Elliot Gould) out of his share of a new casino, causing Reuben to have a near-fatal heart attack. Because Bank “shook hands with Sinatra”, Ocean gives Bank one chance to make things right, but when Bank refuses…excuse the pun, but all bets are off!

Fast forward several months and Bank’s new casino is ready to open, but Danny and co. are ready with a genius plan to ruin the new casino and put Bank out of business for good. This plan has so many layers it’s a little dizzying at times, but in brief the plan involves:

  1. Convincing a large number of high-rollers to withdraw from the casino
  2. Sabotaging the experience for the reviewer responsible for determining if the hotel-casino will win a big award
  3. Rigging the slot machines to pay-out on command
  4. Rigging the card shuffling machines, using gimmicked dice, loaded roulette balls, etc. to ensure huge payouts
  5. Slipping Bank a phone with a hidden magnetron that will short out the A.I. monitoring activity on the casino floor
  6. Using a giant boring machine to simulate an earthquake, forcing everyone to leave with their winnings and not come back.
  7. And last, but certainly not least, after reluctantly crawling to Terry Benedict for additional financing, they have to steal a set of valuable diamonds from the top of the casino as well.

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and everyone else knock it out of the park yet again with this one. There is a hilarious scene where Rusty (Brad Pitt) comes in with new intel and discovers that Danny has been watching Oprah…while drinking wine. I could seriously watch a movie with just those two characters talking about stuff, and I would love it.

The revelation of what Linus’ dad does for a cover is genius! (Linus is right when he says his dad has “the greatest cover of all time”) The whole phone conversation that he has with his dad regarding the nose is just hysterical (“No I’m not giving the phone to Danny” *Rusty holds out his hand* “Not giving it to Rusty either.”)

But Al Pacino is just brilliant as the too-greedy-for-his-own-good casino owner Willy Bank. He’s so engrossed in the grand opening that by the time he figures out he’s been screwed…there’s absolutely nothing he can do to stop it. And it’s just beautiful to watch.

I do have one small gripe however: the reveal of Toulour (the thief from Ocean’s 12) being hired by Benedict to steal the diamonds; it’s not bad per se, I just wish that they’d kept the deleted scene in that included the pair meeting so that we had some idea that they were working together.

Ocean’s Thirteen is highly entertaining, and I recommend it to everyone! Have a great rest of the day!

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A Random Thought on Ocean’s 11 (2001)

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Where has this movie been all my life?? That was my first thought when I finished watching Ocean’s Eleven (2001), a heist film starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, amongst many others (I can’t believe this movie is fifteen years old already!)

Clooney stars as Danny Ocean, a thief and con-artist just released from jail with a plan already in mind: rob three Las Vegas casinos in one night. It just so happens that all three casinos are owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who just happens to be dating Ocean’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). To pull this heist off, Ocean has to assemble a crew of the best in the business, eleven in total. At stake: $160,000,000 (divided 11 ways).

The crew consists of:

  • Danny Ocean (George Clooney)
  • Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt)
  • Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon)
  • Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle)
  • Frank Catton (Bernie Mac)
  • Turk Malloy (Scott Caan)
  • Virgil Malloy (Casey Affleck)
  • Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner)
  • Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould)
  • Livingston Dell (Eddie Jemison)
  • “The Amazing” Yen (Shaobo Qin)

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From the very beginning, you can tell that this story is going to be an insane ride. Clooney, as the suave Danny Ocean, and Brad Pitt, as the eternally-eating Rusty Ryan, are the perfect onscreen bromance and henceforth I will watch any movie if I know those two actors are in it. I especially love how these two are always completing each other’s sentences, it’s like they share a brain.

 

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The plot is, admittedly, a little convoluted in some points, but the humor is undeniable. The smug/overconfident Terry Benedict doesn’t stand a chance against Ocean and his crew.

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I highly recommend the entire trilogy of Ocean’s films, they’re all extremely funny and well worth viewing more than once or twice.

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A Random Thought on Ocean’s 13 (2007)

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James Horner talks The Perfect Storm (2000)

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James Horner talks The Perfect Storm (2000)

In 2000, Wolfgang Petersen directed The Perfect Storm, a biographical disaster film that recounts the true story of the Andrea Gail, a fishing vessel lost with all hands during the “Perfect Storm” of 1991.

In the film, George Clooney plays Billy Tyne, captain of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing boat. Needing money, Tyne convinces his crew to join him on one last fishing trip, even though it’s already very late in the season. They proceed past their usual fishing grounds on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and gain a large catch in the Flemish Cap. But just as the ship is fully loaded with fish, the ship’s ice machine breaks, making it imperative for the Andrea Gail to race back to port with their catch before it spoils.

However, in their absence, the “Perfect Storm” has been developing in the waters between the ship and the port. The “Perfect Storm” evolved from a nor-easter that absorbed the remnants of Hurricane Grace (briefly a category 2 hurricane) and ultimately became a small hurricane in its own right. The storm generated huge waves, with one buoy off Nova Scotia measuring one wave at 100.7 feet.

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Learning of this storm, Tyne and the crew have a choice: wait out the storm (but lose their catch and all potential profits), or risk the storm and make for home as quickly as possible. Not wanting all their work to be for nothing, the decision is made to head for home and they sail into the storm. Even though this film is based on a true story, everything that happens after the Andrea Gail’s final radio contact is pure speculation since the ship (and the crew) has never been found.

Nevertheless, the film makes an effort to portray how the ship’s last hours might have gone: the ship is mercilessly battered by gigantic waves before finally capsizing and sinking, taking all hands down with it (except for rookie fisherman Bobby Shatford who briefly escapes to the surface before being carried away by the swells).

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I have a love-hate relationship with movies based on true events, especially the ones where you know going in that the outcome won’t be good (like watching Titanic, that story has to end badly). I say love-hate because, while I love watching the movie and seeing the drama play out, deep down I hate knowing that, despite everything, the characters are doomed to failure and (in some cases) certain death. For me, it’s hard to cheer on characters that I know will die by the end of the story. That being said, The Perfect Storm, while heart-wrenching, is still told extremely well.

The score was composed by James Horner, and in this interview he discusses how he “created emotion” with this score, because so much of this story is driven by emotion and raw passion.

If you’re interested in learning more about James Horner’s film scores, see here

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