The Couch Potato Report – April 13th, 2005
This week The Couch Potato Report features three films that are hard to watch, but for different reasons.
In 1960, in between shows and parties in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and the rest of The Rat Pack made a heist movie called OCEAN’S 11.
When viewed today, it isn’t a great movie, but it does serve as a time capsule that allows us to look back on a great old era of entertainment.
In 2001 Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Julia Roberts starred in a remake of OCEAN’S 11 that was directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh.
The remake is an enjoyable romp that has a lot of wit and quick, funny dialogue. It is entertaining from beginning to end.
On the other hand, the sequel to the remake is anything but entertaining.
Sure Clooney, Pitt, Damon and Roberts all reprise their roles, Soderbergh is back behind the camera, Catherine Zeta- Jones joins the cast, and the heist that they are working on this time does have it’s moments, but OCEAN’S TWELVE just isn’t any fun. The first one was fun and I wanted more fun!
I expected more fun!!
Yet, perhaps it is my own fault that I didn’t enjoy watching OCEAN’S TWELVE. Perhaps my expectations were too high and thus the film was doomed in my eyes before it even started.
Well, if it is my fault, I have to share the blame with Clooney, Pitt, Damon, Roberts, Zeta-Jones, Soderbergh and everyone else involved with OCEAN’S TWELVE.
Even if I had expectations that the film would be entertaining, the filmmakers have to share the blame in the end, because the film is just not entertaining.
What it is is a film that takes place three years after the last picture.
Robbed casino tycoon Terry Benedict finds each member of the 11 individually and tells them they have two weeks to get his money back with interest.
As they are now well known due to the heist in the first picture, Clooney and Pitt’s characters realize they have to go to Europe for a heist with enough money to meets Benedict’s needs.
But it isn’t just this new heist that will get them the needed cash, it is the side bet they make with another thief. A thief who is reported to be the best in the world.
So both Ocean’s 11 and the other thief set out to steal the same thing in the same week.
The person who becomes Ocean’s twelfth joins them along the way, but I’m not going to tell you who it is.
That part of the film I did like.
OCEAN’S TWELVE isn’t a bad movie, but due to the fact that the remake of OCEAN’S 11 was such a great movie, it suffers a great deal by comparison.
And it isn’t any fun. The first one was fun and I wanted more fun!
Thus, I can’t recommend it, but if you liked the original film with Clooney’s cast, then you might enjoy it.
Just lower your expectations. A lot.
The lack of fun in OCEAN’S TWELVE made the movie difficult for me to watch.
The subject matter of this week’s other two new films is what makes them difficult to watch, no matter what the quality of the movies themselves are.
The first of those two films is HOTEL RWANDA.
This is a difficult film to speak about because the intentions of the filmmakers to get this story in the public consciousness are to be applauded.
After all, those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.
What makes HOTEL RWANDA difficult to watch is that true story that still needs to be told, just so we don’t ever forget.
In 1994 Rwanda a million people were slaughtered in a genocidal clash between tribal Hutus and the horrified Tutsis.
Don Cheadle plays a real-life hotel manager in the Rwandan capital who saved 1,200 “guests” from certain death.
Unfortunately HOTEL RWANDA isn’t a great movie. The intentions may be well placed, but the movie isn’t well made. Cheadle’s performance gave him a well-deserved Oscar nomination, but I never once felt sorrow for the characters in the movie.
I just kept think about all of those poor Rwandans that were killed in real life.
That made it difficult to watch, but it was a story I needed to see.
HOTEL RWANDA is not a great movie but it’s story is an important one that we all need to be aware of, so we never forget.
And if enough people see HOTEL RWANDA and wonder why the Western world didn’t do anything in 1994, then maybe the ongoing genocide in the Sudan can be stopped.
There is currently a ceasefire in that ongoing crisis, but thus far, more than two million people have fled their homes and more than 330,000 people are estimated to have been killed.
Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.
The final film I have for you this week is THE WOODSMAN.
Kevin Bacon gives a superb performance as Walter, a man who returns to his home town after completing a twelve year prison sentence.
Walter just wants to start over but he is a pedophile and his crimes cast a shadow on his new life and threatens to consume him once again.
Not many mainstream Hollywood actors would dare to play a character like this, but Bacon did and his acting is exceptional.
Now I won’t lie to you, this film is not easy to watch. In fact, I was more than uncomfortable on several occasions.
But even with its difficult subject matter, THE WOODSMAN is a movie you should see if you like good acting and great writing.
I didn’t and don’t like the movie’s subject matter, but I liked the movie. Not enough to ever watch it again, but I don’t regret seeing it.
It is a difficult week for movie watching, but if you are up for it, THE WOODSMAN, HOTEL RWANDA and OCEANS TWELVE and THE WOODSMAN are all available now on video and DVD.
COMING UP IN THE NEXT COUCH POTATO REPORT
The sequel to the hit film MEET THE PARENTS is called MEET THE FOCKERS. Robert DeNiro, his wife and daughter travel to meet bumbling Ben Stiller family, who are played with love and energy by Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.
In the superb HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS a Chinese warrior attempts to infiltrate rebel a rebel force.
And Nicole Kidman stars in BIRTH, an interesting, if failed picture about a young boy who claims to be the reincarnated husband of a widow.
I’m Dan Reynish and I will have more on BIRTH, HOUSE OF THE FLYING DAGGERS, MEET THE FOCKERS, and some other releases in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – April 13th, 2005