Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ocean's 13

This is as hateful a film as exists. But gee, it looks good doesn't it? Hollywood's shiniest actors, in the most expensive clothes, in the most opulent surroundings, mouthing the coolest dialogue. And a good thing too. Otherwise how would we know that sins are virtues?

This was the third in the franchise of glamorous heist flicks. I recall the first as pleasant enough - a clever heist with an appealing gang of underdogs. The second was one of those really detestable films that reveals at the last minute that everything you'd just watched was complete bullshit - shades of The Usual Suspects. Julia Roberts playing a chick playing Julia Roberts was a nadir of post-modern cleverness. Ocean's 13 is something else altogether. It's an exercise in humiliation, cynicism and viciousness. These are the parts that comprise the whole and the whole is hubris.

The Villain

Sure, it's Al Pacino who perpetually plays himself now. And quite right - hero or villain, he's always fun to watch, even though he plays them both the same. The villain is NOT Elliot Gould. The director would have it that Gould is our (and every other character's) object of sympathy. Which is to say, sycophantic veneration. If you're familiar with the speeches given by American congressmen and women to AIPAC you'll have an idea of the kind of crawl-up-your-arse adoration we're in amongst here. It's sickening.

One wonders where this veneration of Gould came from. I don't recall any such thing in either of the first two films. And I certainly don't recall it from Oliver Twist. And that's who Gould is - he is Fagan rehabilitated. For those who thought Fagan was hard done by in Twist, here is the movie for you. Gould's Fagan is not a grasping villain teaching thievery to impressionable youths, with Newgate Gaol as his well-deserved punishment. The rightness of Gould having made a living from fraud, grifting and gambling is evident in the perfectly exquisite opulence in which he is embalmed. That he taught these skills to others is not a point of condemnation, but proof of the bigness of his heart. In a film such as this, Fagan's comeuppance at the hands of Pacino is no such thing. Instead it is an outrage - a sin against the greatest man who ever lived. That Gould wimped out and signed the dotted line at the mere hint of violence is nothing at all. Al Pacino must be punished and death is not good enough. How would a mere killing flatter our heroes' egos? Our heroes think big. The punishment inflicted upon the villain must at least be a twofer minimum. It is not enough to ruin and humiliate Pacino - our clothes-horse avengers must walk away with all his loot. Anything else would be to dishonour Fagan.

Pacino possesses a super-computer intelligence. It is god-like and unbeatable. But he worships a false idol. He flails around, flapping his arms, not understanding why his God has forsaken him. Fool! He should have worshipped our heroes. Only they possess the truth and the way. They shatter his God with a single electric thunderclap. How Old Testament - as always.

The Heroes

There is no point differentiating them. They are interchangeable caricatures. Here we see: a stuttering nerd; a Chinese acrobat; an old thespian; a black cockney; a Brad Pitt; a George Clooney. But really they are a swarm. That a dozen people impossibly play a hundred is cinematic proof of their greatness and of Fagan's genius. The secret of their success is to attack from a thousand fronts. And by way of deception thou shalt do war. And this is not just war - it's total war. Pacino's humiliation is to be utter. His punishment is biblical in proportion, complete with a plague of boils. It's as accurate a description of hubris as has ever existed in ninety minutes. Might the answer to a problem be an earthquake? No problem - Acts of God 'r' Us. No less than both the Channel Tunnel digging machines are employed to achieve this. Sure enough, a single of Fagan's graduates does with these machines what would ordinarily be done by 'teams' of lesser men. Best not to say 'hundreds' because no one would quite buy that - cut to the next scene!

So great is the ambition of these thieves that it is almost beyond human comprehension. No aspect of the plan is too small that it doesn't warrant a gargantuan monstering. If the question is loaded dice, the answer is to lead a strike by the underpaid Mexicans at the dice factory and hand out the molotov cocktails. This is to lay hands on some dice, you understand. It is unsurprising that the cinematic Mexicans are appreciative. But their appreciation is misplaced. Their increased pay was due solely to Fagan's money-men realising the pennies involved and coughing it up themselves. Why didn't they just do this to begin with? Who gives a shit. Don't tell the Mexicans that they were merely pawns in a sickening venal charade and won nothing but a legacy of ill-will and hatefulness that, we are left to presume, will scar their community for years. But forget that, our heroes needed a pair of dice.

What might our heroes do in regard to the question of denying Pacino his hotel's five-star rating? This is important apparently. How about they employ biological weapons? No, really! We are graphically shown the dreaded six-pointed bio-hazard symbol on the various bacteria, insects, and viruses that the innocent hotel judge will be subjected to. It's not enough that he has lice in his bed. Every part of his room is infected: his air-con is laced; his towels are smeared; his food is poisoned. Jesus Christ! What's wrong with these fucking people? This might just be the most pointlessly vicious act of rat-bastardry ever seen in cinema. A turd-smeared toilet would have sufficed to scotch the five-star rating. But these fuckers are the collective God of the Old Testament. If they say the judge is Job, his suffering is to be infinite. At the end of the film, on account of his being a good sport, ha ha, he is tossed some pennies. Our heroes are now richer than God. What do they care?

Let's not forget Ellen Barkin, Hollywood's asymmetrical sexpot. Her job is to be sexually humiliated. Fagan's trickster rightly reduces her to an idiot moaning creature in oestrus. As an Ellen Barkin fan, I publicly applaud the director for not having our Ellen actually get down on all fours and raise her arse in the air screaming, 'COME HITHER NOW!' (Or words to that effect beginning with F, M and NOW!) It's nice to know that he has a sense of restraint. No one is surprised our heroes are sexual uber-men. This is a Hollywood card game and 'sex' trumps 'love, honour and cherish'. There is no love in this film apart from that of our con-men for their Fagan. Filial piety is momentarily in the offing but - ha! - this is America and parents deserve nothing more than bickering and backbiting. Did they ever shower their offspring with wealth? No - only Fagan did that.

Otherwise, on the subject of 'heroes', what might be made of their assorted ethnicities? Very little per se. Every audience member belonging to the ethnicities displayed in this film can walk out of the cinema pleased that their guy looked good, got to utter some cool lines, and win. Best not to think about their adoration of Fagan or of their being a dozen in number. That Fagan is the patriarch and that they represent the twelve tribes is a step too far. A thought such as this would only occur to the aforementioned self-obsessed and me. And I dismiss it, ha!

The Gods

Finally in a slow sideways camera track we see a parade of our heroes and their patriarch as they watch the fireworks that perfectly sum up their post-coital languor. Any resemblance to Israelis on the New Jersey shore watching the towers come down is purely coincidental. No one dances or high-fives here. They're too exhausted. Fucking someone like they just did is hard work, doncha know.

The fireworks of course are in their honour. They are Gods amongst men. Throughout the film they were omniscient and omnipresent. The size of their ambition has rendered them untouchable. Their crime was not just huge, it was inconceivable to mere mortals. So great were their falsehoods, and so great the number of them, that only they will ever possess the truth. All others will be consigned to scurrying about trying to figure out the impossible riddle. Why even bother? Best we merely attend church and worship their greatness. The church has a high ceiling, appropriately dim lighting and the requisite hushed audience. They look to the altar and are pleased to find that it is absent and replaced by a flickering light. Forget Jesus, forget humanity - Here we worship the liars who possess the truth.


kikz said...

nice job. i'd miss'd the 12tribes aspect >:)

i think i remb in one of the movies... ocean commenting that he'd "made his bones" learned his craft... as it were... in gould's club when he was kid... maybe that's the fealty aspect?

either way... still suk'd.

annemarie said...

"Their crime was not just huge, it was inconceivable to mere mortals. So great were their falsehoods, and so great the number of them, that only they will ever possess the truth. All others will be consigned to scurrying about trying to figure out the impossible riddle."

Hey nobody!

I didn't want to see that film, though was somewhat curious about it. Now you've satisfied me curiosity. Thanks mite :)

And I have a feeling that you might like to know about this...

there's a guy named Bhang. He fought in Iraq (this second-time around). He's got a forum here:

but what's relevant to this conversation is the fact that Bhang did an extensive, and I mean extensive analysis of Ocean's 11 and 12, based upon reading the symbols, etc. in both flicks.

Ok, I can't even do a description of his analyses, so I won't try. Just go to his site, and take a gander for yourself. It's evident that he put a ton of thought and effort into his "reviews".

I'm not a member of his forum, though I do browse some topics now and then. But, I first encountered Bhang about 4 years ago on the net in another forum where we were both regular and active participants. Bottom line, I get the feeling that he's sincere, specifically that he's one of the good guys.

Scroll thru the forum to the H-wood connection, then look at the 012 codex. That's the thread I'm referring to.

And time and again, someone or something keeps deleting lots of the images that he's captured/saved. Still, his comments, content, and analysis are there, and I believe they're still intact enough for you to get the full drift.

Anyhow, thanks for your take on 013. If Bhang's radar is keen, and it seems to be quite on in many instances, then there is something else wicked (massively wicked and massive too) in the making. Not a thought that I care to dwell on, but it's nevertheless in "the air". grrrrr aghhgghhh

later mite :)

Anonymous said...

Review requests: Children of Men (recent). And from some time ago . . . Eyes Wide Shut.

annemarie said...

p.s. to my earlier post:

I just read over what bhang's posted there and it's a lot less than what he's written/posted over the years. Unfortunately his work's been hacked so many times, he might have lost some files. I'm not sure about this, but what remains still gets to the gist of his analysis, though I have to say, in much less detail, and hence much less clarity.

ok, ta for now mite

nobody said...

Thanks all,

And kikz, yeah I get that. They go into it in 13. But the delirious, sycophantic nature of it was missing in the first two. Here it's magically ramped to provide a whole new, and hitherto missing, impetus.

Ta AM, I'll check it out.

And yeah, Children of Men. I've seen it 3,4,5 times? I lose count quickly. It's extraordinary. Every time I see it I reconsider what it's on about. The scene where the battle stops and everyone stands around dumbstruck is as good as cinema gets. Frankly it makes me cry. Good suggestion.

And Kubrick. A very very odd man. Believe it or not I've seen all his stuff over and over but I haven't seen Eyes Wide Shut at all, ha ha. I have it pegged as being to Kubrick what Rhapsody in August is to Kurosawa. If you can dig it. But perhaps I'm wrong.

I have to admit that there's a certain kind of obscure symbolic arcana that bores me to tears. Like I've said, impossible riddles, the delving into of which will leave one unenlightened. If they didn't exist, and you wanted to keep everyone busy running around chasing their tails, you'd almost have to invent them. If you know what I mean. I prefer to call the riddle rather than figure it out.

But otherwise I do own Eyes Wide Shut and with the significance of Kubrick I really should watch it. Mind you, Kubrick is perpetually elusive. He's on about something but I've yet to figure out what it is. Funnily enough, sitting at a keyboard and tapping away forces one to order one's thoughts. Realisations take place and I groove on it.


PS Hey kikz, yoroshiku isn't my name. It's just Japanese for 'regards', sort of. Ciao.

kikz said...

thx, noby...

it just didn't seem to fit, even though i wasn't aware of the translation.

so.. noby you are :)


13... lots off there.. just didn't even enjoy it as a farce.

never was one for the smugness of the ratpack anyway.

although.. deano did play a good drunk :)

nobody said...

He was only playing drunk?!

I wonder at George Clooney in this flick. He seems to be right-thinking in many things, but then does shit like this. I suspect he's a bit too dazzled by the good things in life. He's always at Milan fashion week and other such worthless rubbish.

George, next time you're in Milan, impress us all and go and hang out at Leoncavallo, ha!

kikz said...

i agree...

his last was kind of interesting... mick clayton...

maybe he does the bullshit to finance his better stuff? shrugz?

syriania(sp) i couldn't even watch... don't know why.... maybe just wasn't in the mood... at the time..

good night & good luck? the murrow story... was pretty good.

hmmmm dunno. i'd imagine.. living life in a fishbowl, no matter how well appointed.... is life in a fishbowl, and has inherent to it.. its own insanities that manifest in many shades.

what i see in his eyes is... loneliness.

from what i understand of deano... most of it in public, was a put on.. aka foster brooks.. but i'm no expert.. and the "pack" was of my daddy's day... i'm a child of the 60's..... :)
my ideas of cool cats from daddy's era... bro dave gardner... the epitome of cool... dearheartz:)*

Anonymous said...

Sorry for sending this twice, but my screen did something weird as I clicked the send button the first time.

Same anonymous. Children of Men, I just cried *again* as I read your remarks and started thinking about scenes in the movie. It's obviously a movie that I truly do go for. And yet . . . there's also a feeling that so far I can't put my finger on, that there are things in the plot that are non-believable even within the "world" of the movie, and (connected to that?) there's a so-far-undefined 'something' about the overall message that I'm not in agreement with, and so I wonder if we have here another situation like you pointed out in your "V" review . . . a powerfully moving presentation set up as bait for swallowing a resistance-is-futile type of message. But if so, that would be going on (as you also pointed out regarding "V") totally over the heads of the cast, especially Michael Caine who I think of as a true human being. His acting in the film is certainly no front, or limited hangout. And the same for the rest of the cast.

As for Eyes Wide Shut, the "obscure symbolic arcana" that you mention do play a role in the story but don't let that stop you from watching because that's not what it's about, IMO.

Here's are two more review requests which I thought of as I was drying my eyes after thinking about Children of Men . . .

Grey Gardens, and: The Beales of Grey Gardens.

If you don't know these two movies please do not delay watching them. If they come across as strongly on the small screen as they did in the movie theater when I first saw them about a year ago, they will bring deep insights to someone who is creating what it means to be nobody.

Having almost never used a nick before I will now inaugurate one. In my immediate neighborhood (the Tenderloin, San Francisco) three of the streets are Ellis Turk and Eddy, and if you say that all together it comes out like . . .

Ellis Turcanetti

nobody said...

Hey kikz,

Spooky observation about our George. I shall never look at him the same.

And Ellis, I groove on your name. And I dig what you're on about re Children of Men. As a whole I haven't figured it out yet. Initially I had trouble getting past the dazzling 'techniosity' of the camera moves. They are stupendous. And the casting and the art direction. (And how about Danny Huston? He always gets in the most amazing films) Later viewings enabled me to distil a few themes. Surely it can't be as simple as, 'What if every baby was the last baby on earth?', with a plot tagged on? I shall have to watch it through again.

And yeah, that arcana thing was a mere distillation of what I'd read. I'm perfectly ignorant of the truth of EWS. And those two films. I've not ever heard of them. I shall look into it.

kikz said...

children of men.

there was no buildup to the fact. no scientific WTF? inquiry or possible explanation for the sterility at all, that i remb.
baby-less theme aside.. what got me... was the almost total surveillance aspect... wasn't questioned. it hasn't been addressed in other brit media either.. dr who, nor torchwood. it just is....accepted as normal.
maybe, possibly now it is.... normal for them.

maybe that's the point w/both issues... don't question it. just survive it, or not.

although i read that some distaste for it has found an expression in firebombing speeding cameras on the motorways.

also, i've read that orwell spins.. as w/in blocks of his old digs.. there are dozens of pole mounted cams.

our clive presents me a/primal problem, in that my distraction w/his person causes me to be sloppy in my observations...

the new bond, does the same as well. sigh:)

mel..... tsk, tsk, tsk.
the christ flick..
no snuff stuff for me.
not into blood/death cults.
wouldn't watch it if someone paid me well to.

read once, he's so into the BIG one, he's banished his daughter to the nunnery, and holds latin mass in a chapel on his own property........

i did enjoy braveheart. haven't seen it in yrs though.
it was made b4 his relapse into the latin catho death cult.

haven't gotten round to apocalypto yet.. i'm a tiny bit familiar w/mayan culture..heavy into blood/death also.......
should be interesting to see his take on it. i hope he covers the burning of the codexes (sp?)....

hate ta sound all "pajiba" and shallow bout mel.. but glad he's found work behind the camera.. he's not aging well in front of it.

firstly, i detest cruise.. so it was almost unwatchable in that respect. i dunno if the ritual sex was used as simple blackmail, or as "amp" for the order's agenda... hell, could be both....?
the creepout factor w/the costume shop owner/daughter.. was too much for me, that combined w/the "scientology insanity factor" of cruise w/his midline giant tooth... which hints at a physical brain disorder of some magnitude..... it was just distasteful.

nobody said...

Ellis, you were right. Bravo mate.

By way of explanation, I thought about it and realised that I watched Children of Men in Shanghai and I was almost certainly stoned. And since then I've only seen it on the dreaded foxtel. Which means I never watch it right through. Somehow I've managed to see the last twenty minutes maybe five times. I know it shot for shot now. But I'd missed a span in the middle somehow. And the film is not what I thought it was. One should always pay attention to the producers. I'll explain in the piece.

I'll tap out my thoughts tonight and post it up tomorrow. Perhaps if everyone holds their horses now and chips in then.

And kikz? Yep to everything. You remain an evil genius.

Anonymous said...

kikz . . . 'our clive' presents me with the very same primal problem and I'm a guy, go figure.