These Two Films Create Confusion Or Unbelievably Overblown Drama

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Copyright 2006 Ed Bagley

Ocean's Eleven 2 Stars (Average)

Ocean's Eleven is a confusing film about a $160 million heist of three Las Vegas casinos from an impenetrable safe 200 feet underground. I say confusing because it is not really evident whether Ocean's Eleven is supposed to be an action flick, a comedy, a crime story or a drama.

Director Steven Soderbergh tries to make this film slick and clever, and at times it is, but he is unable to pull it off and after awhile it becomes annoying.

This 2001 version of Ocean's Eleven features George Clooney as Danny Ocean who recruits 10 accomplices to pull off the heist. The cast includes Brad Pitt as Rusty Ryan, Elliott Gould as Reuben Tishkoff, Bernie Mac as Frank Catton, Casey Affleck as Virgil Malloy and Scott Caan as Turk Malloy and some other lesser lights.

The 1960 original version of this remake featured Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop (otherwise known as the Rat Pack) and Angie Dickinson.

The brain trust for the writing of this screenplay shall remain nameless because what they wrote is inane. These luminaries penned such memorable lines as:

Danny (just released from prison): Now, they tell me I paid my debt to society.

Tess (his ex-wife played by Julia Roberts): Funny, I never got a check.

If that does not leave you rolling over in laughter, try:

Turk Malloy: Watch it, bud.

Virgil Malloy: Who you calling bud, pal?

Turk Malloy: Who you calling pal, friend?

Virgil Malloy: Who you calling friend, jackass?

Turk Malloy: Don't call me a jackass.

Virgil Malloy: I just did call you a jackass.

Not to be outdone, we also get this brilliant exchange:

Virgil Malloy: Are you a man?

Turk Malloy: Yes, nineteen.

Virgil Malloy: Are you alive?

Turk Malloy: Yes, eighteen.

Virgil Malloy: Evel Knievel.

Turk Malloy: (the "s" word).

This accurately depicts the lack of quality in the script, and any script too difficult to understand is not that good, and neither is this movie. Ocean's Eleven earned nothing in awards, even with Brad Pitt and George Clooney doing the honors.

Ocean's Eleven is also one of those films that uses indiscriminate cussing, typical Hollywood dialogue when the script, acting and direction cannot carry the film anywhere.

The Hours 2 Stars (Average)

The Hours features three depressed women from three different generations trying to cope with life, some Academy Award-winning performances and a story line that is even more depressing and repugnant.

Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) is married and writing her book Mrs. Dalloway in England in 1923.

Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), who is pregnant and questioning her ability as a mother even though she already has a son, is reading Mrs. Dalloway in Los Angeles in 1951.

Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) is a career publisher in New York in 2001 who is about to throw a party for her friend Richard who is being honored as a poet and dying of AIDS.

All three of these depressed women are interconnected by Virginia Woolf's novel while all of the action takes place in one day in each of the time periods. Woolf is writing her book, Brown is reading the book, and Vaughan is a book publisher nicknamed Mrs. Dalloway by her dying friend and former boyfriend Richard (Ed Harris).

As if this is not confusing enough, Director Stephen Daldy and Screenplay Writer David Hare chose to start this film in a totally disjointed fashion that takes the moviegoer too long to figure out what is happening unless they are familiar with Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Hours.

As if things are not heavy enough, all three women kiss another woman in the film, and all are involved in suicide. Virginia Wolf is mentally ill, a very unhappy lesbian at heart and ultimately commits suicide.

Laura Brown either attempts suicide or commits suicide (this movie is such a downer I do not remember which).

Vaughan, a lesbian in a relationship, sees Richard commit suicide by falling out of a window.

Overblown drama does not begin to describe how depressing and repugnant this film is, that is the bad news.

The upside, if there could possibly be one, is an Academy Award winning performance by Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf and the film earned 8 other Oscar nominations. The Hours knocked down 29 other wins and another 57 nominations. The make up on Kidman was so good I did not even recognize her.

In essence, The Hours is a much honored film you can barely strand to watch once because of its content and presentation. There will be no second viewing for me. I am glad that Kidman won a Best Actress Oscar, she deserved it.
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