Tag Archives: George Clooney

The Set of 400: #117 – My Favorite Pomade

Today! Because we’re in a tight spot –

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x4)

Starring George Clooney (x4), John Turturro (x3), Tim Blake Nelson, Holly Hunter, John Goodman (x5), Charles Durning (x3), Stephen Root (x4), Michael Badalucco (x3), Chris Thomas King, Daniel von Bargen (x3), Ray McKinnon, Frank Collison, Lee Weaver, Wayne Duvall, Ed Gale

When I first saw O Brother, Where Art Thou? in theaters, I was not overly impressed. In my Epinions.com review from that time (R.I.P. Epinions!), I believe I titled the post “The Acme of Foolishness,” taking a line directly from the film, because I thought I was one cute motherfucker. Whereas I normally quickly and whole-heartedly embrace Coen films, this one just didn’t work for me. Initially.

However, one thing I did glom onto right quick was the soundtrack – probably the lasting memory most people have of this movie, if they ever bothered to see it. So popular was T. Bone Burnett’s compilation/re-imagining of that sweet old timey music (#1 on the Billboard chart! 8x Platinum!), that it stayed in the public consciousness far longer than the film remained in theaters (It did gross $45 million – decent by Coen standards). And as you’ve likely gathered from what’s come before on this list, music/musicals register pretty high with this guy, so incessant listening to this CD kept me thinking and reevaluating this movie until finally I learned to like it, then madly love it. Epinions Joe got it way wrong!

And I don’t think Clooney has ever been properly credited for his dancing

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The Set of 400: #172 – My Favorite Tussle

Today! Because this is the dumbest fucking shakedown in the history of shakedowns –

Out of Sight (1998)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (x2)

Starring George Clooney (x3), Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames (x3), Don Cheadle (x3), Albert Brooks (x4), Dennis Farina, Nancy Allen (x2), Michael Keaton (x5), Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener (x3), Luis Guzman (x4), Connie Sawyer, James Black, Viola Davis, Paul Calderon, Samuel L. Jackson (x4), Isaiah Washington, Keith Loneker

All of the sleek cool on display in #249 Ocean’s Eleven is directly attributable to Soderbergh’s work on Out of Sight – one of the great unacknowledged sequels of all time. There is again a heist at the center of the film, but it unfolds in a completely different way. Where Ocean’s is pretty straightforward, with only some narrative somersaults at the end to heighten the impact of the caper itself, Out of Sight flips in and out of the linear tale, explaining the characters prior interactions in prison (virtually all the guys were in prison at some point), and how and why this grand Detroit house robbery came about.

The cast is first rate across the board, but none more so than Jennifer Lopez as Marshal Karen Sisco, kidnapped while Clooney’s Jack breaks out of jail, plunging them both in the trunk of the getaway car, where the hot, sweaty romance begins to blossom. Ridiculous, right? But it totally works, in that marvelous Elmore Leonard way. I want to emphasize how good Lopez is here, because I don’t think she will ever really get the credit she deserves as an actress. As time went by, she did more and more romantic comedies and middling TV shows, but her career’s start – with Selena and Out of Sight and…Anaconda – signaled her as a major talent, capable of a lot more than she’s done. Sure, her music career always came first, and those Affleck films sure didn’t help things, but I always hoped she’d get back to some great character work. Not too late, JLo!

No reason to get blue about it!

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The Set of 400: #249 – My Favorite Prison Tuxedo

Today! Because you can’t have six cards in a five card game –

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring George Clooney (x2), Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia (x2), Elliott Gould (x2), Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner (x3), Bernie Mac, Shaobo Qin, Eddie Jemison, Don Cheadle (x2), Topher Grace, Joshua Jackson (x2)

A remake so much better than the original that it’s almost unfair to mention its existence, 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven was the movie that I think everyone assumed Steven Soderbergh could make, but never would. Sure, Out of Sight hits largely the same tone, and with Clooney, too, but it isn’t quite the bustling movie star popcorn extravaganza that this film is. But while in some cases I’ve advocated that a filmmaker winning an Oscar was detrimental to society as a whole – Spielberg’s four year hiatus after Schindler’s List, James Cameron’s everything after Titanic, etc. – Soderbergh’s win for Traffic may have actually freed him up to make something more purely fun, purely Hollywood than we would’ve expected.

And boy did it deliver. Yes, the sequels were underwhelming and unnecessary, straight through to last year’s okay-if-beating-a-dead-mare Ocean’s 8, but the first movie is a dazzling gem of subterfuge and sleight of hand. From Danny Ocean’s first appearance, getting out of jail in a full on tuxedo, this movie is chocked full of style, attitude, and more than a little winking-at-itself humor that totally works. Sure, with a cast this large and accomplished, it’s bound to feel like some folks got a little wasted through lack of use, but they do manage to give everybody just enough character bits and snappy lines to satisfy – for the most part. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #390 – My Favorite Clooney Hallucination

Today! Because half of North America just lost their Facebook –

Gravity (2013)

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron

Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Not so much a movie as a 91 minute amusement park ride, Gravity is a non-stop thrilling time at the movies. I’ve never tried to watch it on television, as I just can’t imagine it holding up on a small screen, but man, in theaters, this thing was outstanding. It’s just hurtling objects, spinning bodies, flying debris, and brief fever dreams packed into a simple, straightforward space survival story. The shame of Sandy Bullock winning that Oscar ten-ish years ago for The Blind Side is that she way scaled back on moviemaking (this is endemic of people who win Oscars after hectic careers, unfortunately) – only appearing in five live action movies in the last decade – but her handful of films have all at least been interesting, if not great, such as this seven-pack of Oscars winner right here. Hey, if you can get to a place in your career where you can only choose to do stuff that interests you and sit out the rest of the time, go for it!

Even if you’re making them for Netflix!

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