Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ocean's 8

The Ego Has Landed
Why Does There Always Have to be an Asterisk?

So, this whole parity thing is getting complicated and a little obvious now. When men do a heist movie, they get Ocean's 11, but when women get one, they only get Ocean's 8? Really, folks, how fair is that? And they have to work even harder to get the same results, a passably entertaining little light-hearted snatch-and-grab movie, intricately plotted out and stylishly laid out to a fare-thee-well.

There are some ties to the other "Ocean's" movies—there are a couple cameos (surprisingly, current cameo-master Matt Damon isn't one of them*), and the ring-leader is the sister of the purportedly "late" Danny Ocean, Debbie (played by Sandra Bullock), and even though it's produced by the Ocean's director Steve Soderbergh, it is written (with Olivia Milch) and directed by the same guy that Soderbergh did second unit work for on The Hunger Games, Gary Ross.
Debbie, like brother Danny in Ocean's 11, talks her way into a parole from a New jersey prison (women's) and leaves with $45 dollars to her name but with a plan she's been working out for "five years, eight months, and twelve days." She makes her way to New York and, through sheer chutzpah and gall, talks her way into a swanky hotel room for the night and begins to carry out her prison-plan. She hooks up with former partner Lou (Cate Blanchett) who's been running a club and talks her into the score—to conduct a one-of-a-kind robbery at the glitzy Met Gala, and starts the recruiting process: they need a designer down on her luck—that would be Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter) who owes the IRS five million dollars; a hacker (who isn't Russian)—that would be "Nine Ball", the coolest hacker ever (Rihanna); a jewelry artist/appraiser (Mindy Kaling); a great pair of of hands (Awkwafina) and a Fixer (Sarah Paulson) and they lay out the plan—to steal the "biggest, spectacularly blingy Liz Taylor jewels", the legendary Toussaint necklace, worth over $150 million in cold, hard 2018 dollars.

They zero in on the host of the gala, Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway, clearly enjoying playing a diva with a sharp eye toward satire), manipulating her to be dressed for the gala by Weil, who suggests that she wear the thing for the night, then infiltrate the Met's security company, and embedding a spy at Vogue to get the seating arrangement for the fancy dinner.
The idea is to isolate Kluger and then rip off the necklace in the confusion. It's planned out to the second and by the inch, but even the best-laid plans have their details that complicate—like, for instance, the necklace having a fancy clasp that must be electronically triggered before it can be removed, as well as complications that might stop the gears of the plan that have to be overcome, in the best "Mission: Impossible" style.
This is a well-greased vehicle for its cast and for its intended female audience. Ocean's 11 had men (boys, really) trying to rob casinos with all the testosterone and gamesmanship associated with it. Ocean's 8 is full of opulence and fashion and glitz, the feminine equivalent of passing fancies (and, of course, all the 8 are given expensive frocks to pull off the heist).
There is the underlying satisfaction that the rich are getting soaked, but, as with the males, it's really a left-handed form of wealth distribution—the usual formula of a heist movie.
But, I kept watching Ocean's 8 and seeing how small crimes are pulled off with ease in ways that the more nefarious—or just greedy—members of the audience can take advantage of. Don't be surprised if, in the next few months, the stores you frequent really DO insist that you have the receipt when you bring in "returns" or start getting very protective of their camouflaging logo-sporting bags. Subtle corporate psychological weaknesses of the those employed in customer service are also instructionally exploited, although results may very. But, if the movie does one thing it might actually instruct folks how easy it is to gain information through Facebook. Now, that might actually do some good while doing bad.

* Well, I guess he was but his part was cut.

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