Showing posts with label Le Samourai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Samourai. Show all posts

Friday, June 22, 2018

"Ocean's 8" and The Week in Reviews

[I review "Ocean's 8" as well as one of last year's Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature  - the intergenerational road trip "Faces Places" - now out on DVD.  The Book of the Week is "The Geraldo Show: A Memoir." I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with "Le Samourai."]

Ocean's 8

Yet another installment in the "Ocean's" franchise, but this time it's all about the ladies.

Based on the 1960 Rat Pack film "Ocean's 11," this franchise now boasts four spin-offs anchored by the trilogy directed by Steven Soderbergh that was released between 2001 and 2007.  The "Ocean's" films are all about fast-paced intricately plotted heists with lots of humor, cheeky repartee and fun.  And this film is no exception.

How could a heist movie starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, Rhianna, Mindy Kaling and someone named Awkwafina, NOT be fun?  Well, it is fun if you can overlook some pretty far out logistics.  We've seen movies like this before where the heist plan is so complicated and specific to things happening a certain way that our credulity is stretched to the limit and our disbelief must be suspended, but the film is still fun and kind of mind blowing.  And with this all female cast - it really was fun and kind of mind-blowing.

Debbie Ocean played by Sandra Bullock is just out of prison (Debbie is Danny Ocean's kid sister which will mean absolutely nothing to you if you haven't seen any of the other films but that's OK - it also doesn't really impinge on your enjoyment of the film).  She has had a lot of time to think about what her next move will be. In fact, she has had exactly five years, eight months and 12 days to think about her next move. She convinces the parole board that she is going to go straight and they believe her.  She does go straight.  She goes straight back to planning a big heist because "That's what I do best."  Oh, and she also plans to get revenge on her old boyfriend.  He framed her and he was the reason she had been in prison.

Debbie's big heist plan?  To rob the Met Gala.

Well, not the entire Met Gala.  Just a necklace worth $150,000,000.

First she contacts her old friend, Lou (Blanchett), who is running a liquor scam. and shares her plan and to steal the necklace and to do that they need to get a gang together who all have special skills.

First, they need someone to deal with hacking the security (Rhianna as the tech savvy and dread-locked Nine Ball); a fashion designer to insist that the necklace is a necessary part of a celebrity's ensemble (Bonham-Carter as Rose Weil, a famous but washed-up dress designer); and a fence.  So enter Tammy (Paulson), an ex-fence who is now a soccer mom living in suburbia but who also manages to do some fencing out of her garage.

Debbie and Lou take advantage of the fact that Rose Weil's fashion career is not going well and she owes a bunch of money to the IRS.  So she's in.  They also bring Amita (Kaling) on board because she is a jeweler who is able to turn a necklace into several pieces of other kinds of jewelry in just an hour or two (I told you you had to suspend disbelief). There is also Constance (Awkwafina) who is a brilliant pick-pocket.

Now we just need a big enough celebrity to warrant getting that necklace out of the vault and who will also want Rose Weil do her clothes.  But who?

Enter Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) whose ego is such that when she hears that Rose Weil might be dressing another actress who she feels competitive with (something manipulated by our heisters), she demands that Rose Weil must dress her instead and not that other actress.

And we are off and running!

Now you might be like me and count the number of actresses who make up the heist gang.  It bugged me while I was watching that I only counted seven.  But that little detail is handled nicely with a bit of a twist.

In fact, the film had several fun twisty little aspects, but my favorite part was early on in the film when Debbie is just out of prison.  She has no money but some inventive ways to get what she needs. For example, at Bergdorf's, she gathers some expensive perfumes and walks up to a store assistant and says she wants to return the items.  The assistant says she can't return them without a receipt.  After a bit of back and forth and Debbie huffing a bit, she says, "Oh, alright, but can you give me a bag to put these in?"  And off she goes out the store with the perfume.  Later we see her with several bags from various high-end stores.  Later she scams herself a free hotel room.  I never in a million years would have thought to do what she does but I guess that's why I'm not a scammer or a writer of screenplays!

Another favorite aspect of the film was the fact that these women didn't need a man.  Adding men to the group was briefly mentioned but quickly cast aside with the line:

"A Him gets noticed; a Her gets ignored."

That's for sure especially when you get to my age!

Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch and directed by Ross, this is a fast-paced romp with lots of glitz and glamour that will make you smile, especially if you are a woman.  All of the actresses do their thing but I have to say that the surprise was Rhianna.  I would guess this was her film debut and she was really, really good.  I also have to say that I am probably one of the few people who doesn't rave about Cate Blanchett.  I find her very icy even in movies like this.  Not a huge fan though I give her props for her acting chops.  Bonham-Carter is about what you would expect.  She is wearing her usual odd attire but it works here because she is supposed to be a fashion designer.  Mindy Kaling doesn't really have that much to do, and I am still laughing about Jimmy Kimmel talking about Awkwafina and asking "Isn't that the name of sparkling water?"

But Anne Hathaway runs away with it, because it seems like she is making fun of herself.  At times she has been considered one of the most hated actresses in Hollywood so she seems to be parodying that here.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...a great addition to the "Ocean's" franchise, a fun theatre experience and a wonderful depiction of female friendships. Highly recommended!

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!


Faces Places (2017)

An unlikely road trip around France with then 89-year-old director Agnes Varda and her companion, 35-year-old photographer and muralist, JR.

I remember seeing my first Agnes Varda film, her 1985 film "Vagabond," and I was hooked.

Agnes Varda was a key figure in the French New Wave when there were few women. JR is a young photographer and installation artist who began his career as a graffiti artist.  The two embark on a road trip around France  in a van that looks like a camera and the plan is to create art together.  The van is actually a photo booth and they travel to French villages and take giant pictures of the people and then paste them onto walls there.  

The two meet amazing people by chance.

In one village, they meet the last person living in a row of abandoned miners' houses so they pay homage to him by taking his picture and pasting it onto a house. There is also Emilie and Emile.  Emile kidnapped Emilie to marry her because her parents disapproved of him.  Next they visit a factory where they take pictures of employees from each department and then paste the portraits on the walls of the long entryway. They also visit a village that was half built and then abandoned so they bring people together, take their pictures and then paste the pictures all over the walls of the village to give it life.

Agnes says, "Each face tells a story."

You could say that this is a quirky little travelogue where both share their memories of places they have visited but from the different vantage points of age and experience. They travel to places with meaning to Varda and she reminisces.  They visit Cartier-Bresson's grave, and they talk about death (JR asks Agnes if she is afraid.  "Not yet.").  They discuss Godard (oh, god) - she liked Godard, but she liked her own films better.  They actually go to his house to visit him but he doesn't open the door. Godard was a friend but Agnes is forced to realize that everything changes. And then JR pushes Agnes around the Louvre in a wheelchair.  Like I said, it's quirky.

And a statement on aging and the power of memories.  It's ironic that Varda, someone whose whole career was based on visual images and who now in later life is traveling and working with a photographer, has an eye disease that threatens her sight

Nominated at last year's Oscars for Best Documentary Feature, JR and Varda seem like an unlikely duo but Varda is a true eccentric and so is JR.

"The point is the power of imagination.  We've given ourselves the imagine things and ask people if we can express our imaginations on their turf.  But our idea has always been to be with people at work.  Hence the group photos.  So we want to have an exchange with you and also try out our quirky ideas.  We enjoy it and hope you do too."

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fascinating film if you know who Agnes Varda is and was, if you are a Francophile or if you are a photographer, but this film is not for everyone.
(In French with English subtitles)

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

138 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Le Samourai (1967)

Professional hit man Jef Costello (Alain Delon) may be at the end of his run when he is seen by witnesses after a hit and has trouble getting an alibi.

The film begins with a quote from "Bushido (The Book of the Samurai): 

"There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle...Perhaps..."

And so begins the tale of Jef Costello, a hard-boiled hitman who seems to have no home, no commmitment to a girlfriend, no life except killing people on command. 

We see him do a hit and seek his usual alibi - visiting his lover, Jane (Nathalie Delon, Delon's ex-wife)) and telling her to say he was with her.  But this time there were several witnesses to the murder of a nightclub owner, including the piano player, Valerie (Cathy Rosier).  Based on the witnesses accounts, the investigating officer believes it was Costello who killed the nightclub owner but is hampered by the fact that Jane tells him that Jef was with her all night.

But things don't go well for Jef.  When he goes to collect his money for the hit, his employers shoot him.  Though bleeding and wounded, Jef manages to return to the nightclub and goes on a ride with Valerie while in the meantime the police bug his room and his employers are still after him.  Things don't look good for our Jef.

This is film noir at its best but as Derek Malcolm said in "The Guardian" in 2000, "It has all of the best virtues of American film noir but with a European sensibility." Director Jean-Pierre Melville, whose real last name was Grumbach but changed it to Melville after reading "Moby Dick, had a love of American film noir and this film reflects that.

And, ah, Alain Delon.  I remember when I first became enamored of him.  Those cheek bones! In my Midwestern town of 80,000 people we actually had an art house, so I and my high school friends would take our fake IDs to get into the 18 and over only theatre so we could see the latest foreign films.  They were called art films back then and an art film usually promised some sex and some nudity, something our little high school libidos craved though we couched it all in our being intellectuals. 

Delon was one handsome guy and though in this film he is handsome, his character is expressionless, silent and enigmatic.  In fact, the entire film has a silence about it as we watch Jef move closer and closer to his tragic end.

Why it's a Must See: "[Le Samourai" is a breathtaking work, stylized to the point of asphyxiation, in which the imaginary world of cinema beats reality hands down. No wonder filmmakers from John Woo to Paul Thomas Anderson via Quentin Tarantino and Walter Hill have plundered it as the veritable Bible of cool movies."

---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...and it was very cool...and sad.

(In French with English subtitles)

***The Book of the Week***

The Geraldo Show: A Memoir by Geraldo Rivera (2018)

Geraldo Rivera recaps his life but concentrates here more on his work as a war correspondant.

The title of this memoir is apt.  Yes, Geraldo had eponymous TV shows but the title of this book could also be a metaphor for Geraldo's life.  If you are familiar with him, you know he isn't shy about tooting his own horn so every time one encounters Geraldo it's the "Geraldo show." And it's also no surprise that he is friends with Trump because both of those guys like hyperbole.  What is shocking however is that Geraldo has become an apologist for Trump and is best friends with Sean Hannity.  How does a long-time supporter of liberal causes like Geraldo end up besties with those conservative dudes?

But I have been a fan of Geraldo's ever since his very first late, late night show and on through his stint on 20/20 and his later afternoon talk shows.  He has written memoirs before which I have read but there is an old saying, "If you are not a liberal when you are young, you have no heart and if you are not a conservative when you are old, you have no brain," or something like that.  Here is what I say, "When celebrities who are known to be brash, macho dudes get old they often become sentimental old dudes who have many regrets, so I thought it was worth checking back in with Geraldo to see where he is at now.

And yes, he is now an old sentimental dude with many regrets, mostly regretting having bragged in his first book about all of the women he had shagged.  

His earlier memoir was all about his sexual conquests. He even called it "Exposing Myself."  Basically he couldn't keep it in his pants, resulting in four divorces.  But now he is older and wiser, or so he says, and his fifth marriage is the exception and he has managed to remain faithful, probably helped by the fact that he is now 74 and lives in Cleveland.  Who knew Geraldo would end up in Cleveland?  I guess that's what happens when you marry someone 32 years younger than you.

However, this one skirts his personal life to concentrate more on his work, mostly war reporting.  But don't think he doesn't talk about being on "The Apprentice" and "Dancing with the Stars."  He does.  Geraldo is still tooting his own horn as he has always done but he has always been so open about it, and he is actually quite vulnerable and feels hurt if someone doesn't like him.   

Rosy the Reviewer Geraldo, I still like you.

Thanks for reading!

See you next Friday 

for my review of 

the documentary about Fred Rogers

"Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 
I Die Project." 

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll down below the synopsis and the listings for the director, writer and main stars to where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics" - If I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.