10 June 2018

Ocean's 8 And Other Movie Catch-ups

This was a pretty silly week for me - but it's okay to post a movie preview on Sunday instead of Friday, right?

What's even the point of a non-Battleship (2012) Rihanna movie?

An apparent side-effect of dropping non-stop Disney blockbusters (even if something like SOLO [2018] ended up relatively disappointing) is that we suddenly get these low weeks of Summer where no apparent monster film drops. There's a whole slew of sub-threshold flicks with solid potential dropped lately, from Action Point (2018), Upgrade (2018), Adrift (2018), American Animals (2018), Hereditary (2018), Hotel Artemis (2018), and the biggest flick of the zeitgeist, Ocean's 8 (2018). Let's do a little mini-run through of all these and then sink into Ocean's 8.

Action Point continues the bizarre tradition of translating Johnny Knoxville's Jackass stunt prowess into films with an actual plot. Whereas Bad Grandpa (2013) basically just spun that specific Irvin Zissman character into a series of sometimes real and sometimes faked hidden camera stunts, Action Point is based off a real-life insane amusement park and basically showcases Knoxville's willingness to hurt himself. And apparently he got more hurt here than anywhere else. There's something inside me that gets a lot of satisfaction from watching someone try to be a real-life Bugs Bunny cartoon. Ironically, there's also a lot of love and passion in everything he does, which probably stems from him seeming like a genuinely good dude. I've always been a fan and actually do want to see this.

Upgrade needs a better title, but actually looks really niche and amazing. Logan Marshall-Green is perhaps best known for being the guy in Prometheus (2012) who looked like Tom Hardy, but his acting here, where his face is not allowed to match his body action is a unique spin on usual combat. For the uninformed, the movie is about a paralyzed dude who gets a chip implanted in his brain so that another agent can control his body and kick-ass for some reason. It's a good enough sci-fi high concept to watch a really scared guy not control his own body and beat up goons.

I'm not too familiar with Adrift. I thought it might star some sharks, but alas. It stars Shailene Woodley and Sam Clafin, who is best known as being one of the hundreds of bland young Hollywood white guys who don't add anything to the pictures they're in. It gives off a heavy Nicholas Sparks vibe, but may not actually be that romantic. These two people are stuck adrift after a hurricane floating somewhere. That's cool. It kind of reminds me of The Deep (2013), which shouldn't be surprising, because they have the same director. That or a less tense version of Open Water (2003). You can't trick me on remembering water and shark movies.

American Animals has me a little torn. It looks like a bizarre picture that needs a more definitive title and logline to push itself over the edge into something I'd want to see. It's about a bunch of college students who try to steal a rare book from their university library. It stars watchable young white male Hollywood actors like Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan and seems like a fun enough caper, although one that possible doesn't know its own tone. Its director, Bart Layton, made The Imposter (2012), which is a really compelling documentary, it's possible his story sense translates to a more narrative thriller genre.

Now, apparently the most horrifying, emotionally draining film of the year is Hereditary. This is getting all kinds of really polarizing reviews, mostly because genuine slow emotional horror is actually a little different than exciting slasher gore horror, but still pretty heavy for the normal movie-going crowd. I don't think Hereditary will check the boxes and become a summer smash horror hit like The Conjuring (2013) or something but it should go down as one of the better horror films of the year.

Finally, Hotel Artemis, otherwise known as John Wick 3 (2018). It does seem to strike out a little bit on its own with its insane cast and shift to a hospital rather than a secret underground Assassin Hotel, but that vibe is really there. Still, it's a cool flick that moreover is made because of the John Wicks (2014) and Atomic Blondes (2017) of the world that are upping the pedigree of the mid-range action film. And if we don't have mid-range action films, then I don't want to live in this world anymore.

Alright, now the real meat of this weekend. I hesitate to go full blockbuster only because there's not a lot of explosions or spandex, but Ocean's 8 is certainly the biggest film of the moment. I'm not totally excited for it beyond a dream cast, which apparently does indeed deliver the goods. I wrote this article years ago and I will stick by it and reference it again.

See, I get it, maybe this movie isn't made without the Ocean's name attached. And then we get nothing, and that sucks. And to be fair, the original Ocean's 11 (2001) isn't even the original Ocean's 11, that would be the 1960 Frank Sinatra Rat Pack version. That flick by Steven Soderbergh probably wouldn't have been made if it was just some George Clooney joint. I still wish that women could star in a heist film instead of a female heist film, and that we could have a Sandra Bullock film instead of the kid sister of a George Clooney film.

At the same time to some extent this is whining about semantics. A bunch of fantastic ladies have a big crazy fun movie of their own and that's great. Except that reviews have said that it's neither that crazy nor fun. So, same with Ghostbusters (2016), apparently the next step is to actually make good movies starring all these women.

But hopefully this is something that women are into. I don't even quite know what the Met Gala is or why you'd want to rob it. That's because I'm a Donkey Kong Country-playing white man idiot, but not all movies need to be made for me (something everyone seems trouble understanding). What I always look for in something like this is those universal feelings, though. Is there pain and struggle and decisions and growth the characters go through? Is it clever in the way that Soderbergh's films were almost excessively clever? Do we see the characters outwit their way to acquire the $150 million something something necklace around Anne Hathaway's neck? I hope so. That's what I cheer for in any movie.

Women are also allowed to be in bad movies, though. I never quite know where to go with feminism. I'm pretty willing to say I have no idea because I'm a dude and I don't have a female perspective and that's just fine. Does that work? I don't know. We should all bow down to Sarah Paulson anyway.

What do you think? Where does Ocean's 8 fall in feminist theory? Does it / should it? Are you going to see Adrift instead? Leave a constructive comment below, please.

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