Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Revenge is better than money, you'll see (Of course, having both is good, too)

I think Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney deserve some credit for looking at all the praise for Ocean’s Eleven, then looking at all the disappointment that followed the sequel and crafting the third one to resemble the original rather well. Granted, you’d think this would fall under simple common sense, but this is Hollywood, and somehow movies like License to Wed get made, so nothing surprises me.

As far as the structure of the film, there’s very little exposition – Reuben, the elder statesman of our loveable band of criminals has been double-crossed by Al Pacino’s Willy Bank and revenge must be had – so we get right to the Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Cheadle et al being beyond cool in Vegas again. Do the constant references to cons and people we don’t have any understanding of get a bit annoying? Yes, but it’s pulled off with easy, breezy cool effectiveness so you don’t feel too bad.

While the objective of the original required a great deal of preparation to pull off, Thirteen branches out even farther. In an attempt to deal a devastating financial blow to Bank’s new casino – The Bank – the boys plan on rigging everything from craps to the slot machines to spew out cash over a three and a half minute period before faking an earthquake to evacuate the place with The Bank down. For being just under two hours long, it breezes by, and I’d imagine it would do so on further viewings as there’s very little in the way of sluggishness.

Only qualm: never once do you feel that every aspect of the plan – and there are a lot of them – isn’t going to work to perfection and they’re going to pull it off. I suppose a certain naivetĂ©, or just a overly willing suspension of disbelief, in my cinematic endeavors would be nice, but it still works. Nobody goes to see an Ocean’s movie to get depressed, so why even flirt with the idea? Another aspect I thought amounted to a problem was the fact so much is achieved through knowing people, but then when you consider how much of real life is predicated on connections and “having a guy for that”, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Bottom line: If you liked Eleven, Thirteen isn’t as good but it’s certainly worth a matinee ticket at least and you’ll feel completely satisfied, unlike some of the other blockbuster fare we’ve been treated to since early May. Plus, it’s inspired me to watch the first one again, if only for the scene where Clooney shows up to recruit Pitt with the “God, I’m bored”/”You look bored” exchange.


I realize the problem with The Real World: Las Vegas Reunited isn’t the fact they’re reunited after five years like I originally thought. After you think about it, five years is not that long. The past three years of college have just sped by, and half a decade only puts me in the summer preceding my junior year of high school, so it’s not that far back.

No, the problem arises when five years have transpired and you’ve seemingly managed to make nothing of your life, instead still maintaining the same level of Pycho or SlutBong you did when you were just entering your twenties. That’s when you would get embarrassed, and that’s why it is so blessedly awkward to watch. With Inferno 3, Rob and Big and the hilarity taking place every Wednesday night at 10, MTV is one of the few channels (Showtime and HBO turning out their usual goodness as well, apparently) worth watching this summer.


I linked to this over on the side – is the whole sidebar of links thing too much? I’m thinking maybe? – but it deserves mention: the best 10 moments of season one of 30 Rock (HT to ALOTT5MA). While I appreciate the spirit of the list, it seems to be skipping a lot of great moments not available on YouTube, but it’s a nice start. While the whole Alec Baldwin Golden Globe reel is entertaining, my favorite is the response to Tracy Jordan’s words of advice for Kenneth involving Shark Week and dinosaurs, which sadly isn’t available.


So the Bob Barker Era sadly ends and the search for his replacement begins. After just finishing up Bill Carter’s The Late Shift, which chronicled the decision and reconsideration of those decisions after Johnny Carson retired, it reestablishes how critical this decision is for CBS. As I suggested when he announced his retirement back at the end of October, there needs to be nothing short of a papal convocation to decide who replaces him. George Hamilton is a little too old at this point, although I think he’d be suitably charming in the role. Of course anytime I need to pick a host for a game show, whether a current one or one devised completely in my imagination, I go back to the same person: Tom Cavanaugh, formerly known as NBC’s Ed and the short-lived star of Love Monkey. Perhaps instead of putting, he can school J-Tim at hoops every other week?

In honor of Barker’s retirement and CBS re-airing this episode last night, it’s Barney on How I Met Your Mother making his pilgrimage to the altar of the greatest game show host of all time. If the following video isn’t working, try here or here.

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