hi! I’m trying to ease myself back into writing about film. Or back into writing in general where it’s not about what goes on in my brain. here’s a nice and breezy one. spoiler alert. also this gif (or photo if it comes out as a photo) or anne hathaway was one of my fave shots in the whole film.
Like most men over the age of thirty with nothing better to do, I, too, was skeptical of the all-female Ocean’s Eleven spin-off. I was a bit wary of the fact that such a beloved franchise went for the late 2010s cashgrab route and used a cast of very powerful women to sell it. I was delightfully mistaken.
I saw the film on a Tuesday afternoon with a friend at the Picturehouse Central. I hadn’t been to the Picturehouse in a while, the last film I saw there was Phantom Thread (the corresponding blog post to follow), which wasn’t exactly a blockbuster in the same vein as Ocean’s 8.
The film opens with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) at her parole interview after being imprisoned for five years, parallel with her late brother, Danny’s hearing in the 2001 film. She says she’s ready to rejoin society to live the simple life, then proceeds to rob a department store and finesse a hotel room. She seems to already have something planned. She recruits Lou (Cate Blanchett) for a massive jewel heist during the annual Met Gala. They approach a vulnerable and financially unstable fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter) to dress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), the actress dawning a borrowed 150 million dollar diamond Cartier necklace for the Gala. The ladies build the rest of their team with Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Nine-Ball (Rihanna), Constance (Awkwafina) and Amita (Mindy Kaling).
interlude! I’ve been sitting on this post for a week so let’s just cut to the chase!
Cutting to the chase, or rather the heist (did you get that?), the budget on this film must have been insane. You’d need a lot of factors to establish legitimacy for the viewer to suspend their disbelief for a little bit to make the whole Met Gala bit work. It wasn’t just a bit, it was actually a well choreographed and plausible within the rules of their universe heist to execute. You needed the Met, the dresses, the actors, the gratuitous Kardashian and Katie Holmes cameos, the catering, cast, crew, EVERYTHING cost money. I hope it makes it back. I’ve been feeling some type of way recently about film budgets; financial responsibility in relation to the larger economy is a huge turn on for me as a filmmaker, but Ocean’s 8 was levels of extra (incredibly amazing extra) that had me a little concerned.
It had just the right amount of references to the original franchise. Appearances from Saul and the Amazing Yen had me nostalgic and smiling all the way through. Danny’s death, however, is something I’m a bit skeptical on. Maybe I’m just hopeful for sequels where the whole franchise comes together in an Infinity War-like superheist and I get to thirst after Rihanna AND Brad Pitt at the same time. Maybe they rob the Supreme Court somehow and get justice for the victims of poweful Hollywood men. To whichever Studio produced this film, hire me to write the sequel, thanks. One thing I thought was really great about this film was that it didn’t want to live in the shadow of the original franchise despite alluding, even paralleling it. Like Danny in 11, Debbie runs a job within a job to get back at a former flame. And she gets back at her ex instead of trying to get her ex back like Danny did with Tess.
Women run shit so much more efficiently than men. I mean, it did take Debbie’s crew of less than 11 to rob the fucking Metropolitan Museum, right, Ladies? Like I said earlier, Debbie was running a job within a job, but plot twist! She ran another job all along with Lou: they stole all the fucking jewelry there. Badass. One thing though, despite the crew’s success, it felt like there were little to no stakes or consequences for their actions, but Gary Ross did manage to create mad tension during the actual heist itself. Don’t we all love a good montage?
I remember there were moments watching the film where the whole room was just enamored by Rihanna, her fingers hacking away on a laptop, and that fat ass blunt she was smoking. Quiet “oh my god”s and “fucking yessss” were bubbling up in the room. A mood. It was a really naturalistic performance from her compared to her other film roles. Come on, we’ve all seen Battleship, Valerian, and Home just for her. Even Bring it On: All or Nothing. We’re all here for Rihanna. It’s okay to admit it.
Anne Hathaway. Whew. And I mean, whew. What a woman. There was a meta aspect to her performance because it felt like she was embodying all those terrible rumours that made her a topic of conversation and unnecessary hatred for no reason all those years ago. She was just this great balance of melodrama and vivacity. She’s fine as hell too. Amelia, who? Genovia, where? Les Miserably In Love With Anne Hathaway starring me and everyone who saw this film.
The real stand-out for me was Sarah Paulson. She’s amazing on American Horror Story, but I had no idea of the true comedic prowess she has until I saw this film. Awkwafina was a good familiar face for my demographic, and sweet Mindy, I wish they gave her more things to do.
I wanted to avoid this line of questioning in this post because I really enjoyed this film, and am excited to see it again at some point, but it’s championing of diversity, or rather all the hailing it’s receiving for championing diversity is rubbing me the wrong way just a teensy bit. I like that representation was, for the most part, normalised, like it didn’t make a huge deal all the time about how they were all women, or how some of them were women of colour, or queer. Was it bordering on tokenism? Can we really expect more social awareness from a film inspired by a terrible Sinatra heist film from the 60s? It was co-written and directed by a man, is it truly ‘feminist’? I think it is feminist despite all that; it just existed as it was, as a story above all else (and maybe Vogue product placement) and it didn’t draw attention to itself as The Female Version Of or The Feminist Version Of. That makes it feminist, right? I wish they gave the women of colour more things to do, but there’s hope yet for a sequel for us to see them do more things, or perhaps be the center of the story.
Let’s talk queerness. This film just exudes Power Lesbian energy. It was hinted throughout that Debbie was with Tammy at some point before she was with Richard Armitage’s character (his name really escapes me, help a sister out will ya and find it for me in the comments?), and that she’s quite open to the idea of something with Lou, or maybe something had already happened but they’re just best friends and partners in crime now? Either way, great. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but, uh, give ze women of colour some of dis action too, yeah, studio?
Something I couldn’t shake off, and became the topic of conversation for a while after leaving the film: I really couldn’t take James Corden seriously. Whilst his character did provide some much needed jeopardy to the girls’ actions, I just wanted to make tens of thousands of Carpool Karaoke and a handful of Peter Rabbit jokes. I half-expected him to genuinely burst into song at the sight of Sandra Bullock, they’ll sing to whatever song she danced to in Miss Congeniality.
Techncally, I thought it was really well executed as well; I’m not usually a fan of long lenses or wide zooms, but it was really refreshing to see some of those elements juxtaposed with the very 2018 shallow depth of field and montages of pretty ladies in expensive dresses.
Overall, this film was a blast. Would definitely see it again. Also, tell Anne Hathaway to come get at me, I just want to talk, ma’am.