I like it when movies are smarter than I expect them to be. Not the ones with paradigm-shifting plot twists in the final act, though I like those too if done well. It’s just, if I know there’s a twist, I can usually work out what it will be. No, I’m more talking about the movies that are created to be twisty and confusing right from the start, and revel in letting me know they know I know, but are confident I won’t figure it out anyway. And I can figure out a lot of those ones too, but not always.
Duplicity straddles the line. I kind of knew what was going on right away, but then I let all the nested switchbacks lull me and therefore dismissed my instinct, because the movie was cleverer than I gave it credit for. And this is exactly what I’m saying I like, so. The deal is, Clive Owen and Julia Roberts are retired spies who have moved into the private sector where they continue to spy, only now they call it corporate espionage. And they’re engaged in a steamy cat-and-mouse game between their respective companies, their respective teams, and (inevitably) themselves. The chemistry is not at all bad, but as the characters themselves acknowledge early and often, the main draw is to find out who will finally come out on top. …professionally, I mean.
It’s an entertaining movie, and I can happily recommend to anyone who likes a) to untangle puzzles or b) things that are fun.
Holidays are an excellent time for watching movies. And for gathering with families and friends, and for gifts and for snow and fireplaces (sadly, not so much for me personally, but I hear tell), and some people claim for football, and for celebrating your winter faith of choice (I prefer the one where the hot Wiccan chicks dance naked in the moonlight, could I but only find them). And, of course, for lots of empty calories.
Ocean’s Twelve marks a good confluence of the first and last items on my list. Fun movie, devoid of any real content at all. Despite that, Soderbergh still managed to put a new spin on the heist caper, above and beyond the work of beauty that was the pure heist of his 2001 remake.
I say spin, but he basically turned it on his head. Danny Ocean’s merry band of thieves who steal from the rich and give to themselves are at it again, planning a heist that never seems to occur to stave off a vengeance that never quite materializes, and somehow it still works. It’s a little more jokey and a little less nuts and bolts, and every bit the cure for the end of the year Oscar-ridden wasteland.
A good time will be had by all who don’t think that Julia Roberts looks like a horse, and this time they also added in Catherine Zeta-Jones for those who (like my father) do. He stayed at home and slept through it, sure, but that’s not the point. Just the fact that he would have had an alternative proves my point.