The 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven is one of my guilty pleasure movies — pretty to look at, full of quotable lines, underpinned by a plot that, though full of holes, is witty and twisty. Plus the clothes! George Clooney’s suits, Brad Pitt’s pointed collars, Elliot Gould’s blinged out chains and florid, floral shirts…. Delightful.
It also has a terrific soundtrack album, with classic tunes and electro-jazzy backgrounds. It’s perfect music to work to, and it’s punctuated with some of those quotable lines from the film. It’s my go-to playlist when I’m on a deadline, and I recommend it highly.
NOTE: As much as I enjoy the 2001 remake, I dislike the original Ocean’s Eleven. It’s not that Frank Sinatra and the rest of the cast do a bad job. It’s that the story is so ridiculously ridiculous. I don’t just not recommend it; I urge you to avoid it at all costs.
The symphony sounded amazing, well-timed to the film and perfectly attuned to the emotional ups and downs of the film. The film itself was a surprise to me. I thought I’d seen it before, but no, I’d somehow missed this one — all the more surprising since this is considered one of Chaplin’s greatest works.
The physical gags and running jokes in the film are excellent, as I’d expect in any Chaplin movie. But what surprised me was the emotion, particularly that of the Little Tramp. I think of Chaplin films as broad and silly, light-hearted and fun, and on the whole this followed that recipe. But the end of the film isn’t light at all. It’s touching and open-ended, and it’s not clear — at least not to me — what might happen next. I’ve found myself thinking back to it all day.
If like me you’ve somehow missed this particular piece of film history, seek it out. It’s being rereleased on Blu-ray this month, or you could rent it on Amazon Prime. Or if you’re very lucky, you might find it being shown with live accompaniment, which is the very best way to see it.
What I like about the mobile app/game Draw Something isn’t the game. As a game it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Should I try to make it hard for my opponent to guess what I’m drawing? If I make it too hard, he won’t guess, and then neither of us gets a point. But if I make it really easy, then where’s the challenge for my opponent/collaborator? What exactly are we doing here? Continue reading Draw Something, Picasso-style→
Over the weekend I watched A Hard Day’s Night, the Beatles’ first film. I’d seen it before, years ago. Watching it now, I was happy to see it was as silly and plot-free as I remembered, but in many ways it also surprised me.
The movie has lots of surreal moments — jumps and shifts that are sort of goofy but maybe a bit more than that. John in the bathtub and then gone; the band in the train corridor and then running outside the train; John cutting the tailor’s tape. In the time between when I first saw this movie and now I’ve seen more film, particularly French film and film by bona fide Surrealists, so now I see better where the influences came from.*
The music is of course amazing — but it’s even more so if you believe the movie’s producer when he says in the DVD extras that the band wrote the songs in the few months between when the three-picture deal was signed and when the production started shooting. The title track wasn’t even written until near the end of production, and it was written overnight. Makes my all-nighters look like wasted hours.
The lads fell down a lot, especially George. And then they bounced back up and kept going, like Weebles. I mean, watch the opening sequence below: Happens 8 seconds in. Doesn’t that look painful? They do it a few more times during the movie. How George’s hands weren’t too bruised and scraped to play guitar I can’t understand.
I knew that footage from the Beatles movies and TV appearances were the source material for the visuals in The Beatles: Rock Band, but I didn’t appreciate how closely the game mirrors the footage, and sometimes improves on it.
BONUS: I came across this while seeking out a suitable clip. Nicely done.
* My brother suggested that I should watch the Monkees TV show again, to see if I have a similar renewed appreciation for its surrealism. Excellent idea. But I was always a big fan of the Monkees, so it’s hard to imagine I could like them more than I already do.
The highlight of my weekend was seeing a classic film I hadn’t seen before: Born Yesterday, starring Judy Holliday and William Holden. I’m not sure how I missed this one in the past. Judy Holliday is outstanding in this, coarse (check out her shouting “What?” in the clip above) yet sexy and sweet, and smarter than anyone thinks. She’s the prototype for all the not-so-ditzy blondes in film — Legally Blonde, Clueless, any early Goldie Hawn movie.
The plot hasn’t aged too well. With its focus on the evils of business trying to influence government, it looks pretty naive these days — or maybe it could serve as a reminder of how things ought to be. But the characters are as fresh as ever.