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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2001!
Danny Ocean and his ten accomplices plan to rob three Las Vegas casinos simultaneously.
This is the classic popcorn movie, made by a director/star team of Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney. Two people who generally make artistic films within the Hollywood system (Traffic, Michael Clayton, Solaris, The Good German, Syriana). Artistic meaning that they aren't written and directed in that familiar Hollywood way -- and therefore people don't really see those movies all that much.
But in order for those guys to make those films, they must make some films that make some money for the studios and for themselves. Enter Oceans Eleven! The first of three movies about a band of thieves working together to take down big scores. Movies that are set up to solely entertain us and therefore make money at the box office.
Director Steven Soderbergh is a talented filmmaker. So talented in fact that he is the first Hollywood director in this reviewers memory that serves as his own Director of Photography (he uses the alias of Peter Andrews in the credits). So multitalented is Soderbergh, he actually likes to take the camera himself and shoot the scenes too! A throwback in many ways. How he gets away with it in this union heavy industry where every job on set is detailed in the guidelines and only one person can do a certain job, is truly amazing.
But Soderbergh keeps on trucking being the truest version of an auteur. And after watching Oceans Eleven again, it seems like he is just practicing many frames, lighting and shots for his more important personal projects. All the while cashing in a nice paycheck and gaining that all important box office status. No matter, his style is unique and if you really choose to dissect a lot of his films, this is a man who knows how to evoke emotion and get the audience completely involved in what's happening.
AND, Clooney and Pitt could recruit other solid and bankable actors to be a part in this film. Getting Matt Damon, Julia Roberts is amazing, but then adding Bernie Mac, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle and Casey Affleck to the film is astonishing.
You can tell they planned the three films since the beginning. All Ocean's films are spaced three years a part from each other. So it's good business for everyone to do these films because even if any of them worked on poorly reviewed and poorly received at the box office movies, then they always had the Ocean's movie to take them out of their funk.
Look to the future and watch how movie stars band together to create this formula again.
Of course you have to make an entertaining film first and Soderbergh does just that. Oceans Eleven in many ways is a forgettable film in the sense that it doesn't stay with you after it's finished. But it does entertain for the two hours as it's a fun little story about how 11 guys pulled off a great bank heist.
The trick of course for these types of films is to present the thieves as good guys who all choose this unique profession. They are just like everyone else, but they just happen to break the law and pull off jobs where they steal other people's money.
What keeps this film moving is the relationships between the thieves. They all seem to like and care for each other and they are all a part of their own extended family. And that's the trick -- present an audience with a family atmosphere and we smitten with you. No matter if they're six good looking white friends with large apartments in New York City or if they are people who like to steal from others.
So you need to present a person who is a worse human being than the thieves who they can steal from so they can be our present time Robin Hood. Enter Andy Garcia, playing the sharp Casino owner who leaves his emotions at home when dealing business. And to add to the stakes even more, Garcia is also dating Clooney's ex-wife (Julia Roberts), who he still loves and it's obvious from the start that she still loves him.
We know that they will succeed in robbing the Casino and that Clooney and the gang will win out. The trick to keep us entertained in how they do it. And they succeed in doing it.
So Oceans Eleven is a win, win, win movie in many ways. We the audience are entertained as it's worth the price of admission, the studios get their money and the talent gets to keep their A status alive so they can work on their true passion projects