lllltllll it OCEAN’S ELEVEN (15) 116 mins 00..

Off the cuff is the operative term for Steven Soderbergh’s remake of the Las Vegas casino heist thriller that

Not as cool, but better made than the Rat Pack original

Frankie, Dino and their Rat Pack had so much fun making back in 1960. But where the Rat Pack rascals used the original film as an excuse to run riot in their adopted home city - leaving director Lewis Milestone

no option but to turn out a messily-plotted, scrappily-acted film that was more about promoting ‘cool’ than

being a smart crime caper - Soderbergh, screenwriter Ted Griffin and an all-star cast have worked to produce a tightly-scripted stylish movie. One, however, which remains at all times self-consciously

throwaway fun.

In one scene early in the film, heist mastermind Danny Ocean (George Clooney) pitches his plan to rip off

three of Vegas‘ biggest casinos to card sharp ‘Rusty’ Ryan (Brad Pitt). ‘You been practising that speech?’ asks Ryan. ‘Yeah, how’d I do?’ replies Ocean, thinking he could have worked on it a little more.

Meanwhile, swaggering sharp-suited dudes aside, the heist itself is so ludicrously implausible - involving

everything from building a replica of the most secure vault in the world to stealing a magnetic pulse- generating device otherwise used to explode nuclear weapons - that you quickly give up any attempt to make sense of it. And then you just sit back and go with the flow, which proves to be a great deal of fun. The set-up: Ocean and Rusty and their gang of nine specialist criminals, which also includes Matt Damon’s pickpocket, Don Cheadle’s explosives expert and Carl Reiner’s old pro con man, attempt to lift

S160m from three casinos belonging to Andy Garcia’s cold-hearted money man Terry Benedict. Matters are

complicated, as if they needed to be, by the appearance of Ocean’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts) who hooked up with Benedict while Danny was doing a stretch in prison.

It’s a minor part for Roberts to play - she’s essentially the passive love interest - although her billing at the end of the cast credits (‘and introducing Julia Roberts as Tess’) suggests her appearance is both a favour to her Erin Brockovich director and another example of the film’s off the cuff cool. Pitt too indulges a gag: the gorgeous Californian doll stuffs junk food in almost every scene he’s in. And later he plays the fake doctor in the house complete with wig and thick black specs. And the Cloonster? He does what he always does deep-voiced smoothness, eye-wrinkling smiles - and looks great in a tux.

The new Ocean’s Eleven will never be as cool as the original. It’s a better film, though. (Miles Fielder)

Ei|7,~i"l(‘ ALI (cert tbc) 154 mins 00..

Succeeds on points it i.- '."':irl,i": .'."'.h At, :5. that two 7:"’l a half hours is not enough hint: to "wipe the tale of the man .ottzil lil‘lfg's Sports Personality of the ’L-eritur ..l .":'l '.t,'i(l‘;ll‘;lll(] his .9,- , ll tr, tlit; ten years from

"1"»? .'."~’.-." H: beat Sonia, liston

to wrn the world title for the first trrne. to his vrctory in the Rumble In The Jungle against George Foreman still proves unsatisfying.

The poster urges us to forget what we thought we knew and the film tries to fulfill this promise by steering the action away from the ring as much as possible. Yet there are still 30 minutes of ring time to appease fight fans.

Ali's biggest battles are shown to be against social llljtliSIlCO. It brings to the tore his conversion to Islam and his part in the civil rights movement which invoked the legendary phrase: 'There ain't no Vietcong ever called me nrgger.‘ Also shown is Ali's womanising. which was legendary at the time but has been largely forgotten by a media happy to mythologise a man they once branded a demon.

Director Michael Mann uses the crvrl rights aspect of the Ali story to lay to rest one of his own ghosts: Mann was earmarked to

direct Malcolm X before Spike Lee stepped in. Mann. backed by Mario Van Peebles' stunning performance as Malcolm X. uses All to showcase how he would have done things differently. He successfully recreates an era on screen and provides a great introduction to the fighter that is not clouded by sentirnentalrty.

Mann's lead. Will Smith. gives the performance of his career. haying endured a year of training to turn the Fresh Prince into a heavyweight champion and perfecting Ali's Kentucky twang. Jon Voight is also exceptional as Howard Cosell. while the fight scenes are worth the admission price alone.

However, by failing to mention Ali's post-career battle against Parkinson's disease and show Ali's mortality. the frlrn succeeds only on pomts and isn't gurte a knockout. (Kaleem Attabl I General release from Fri 22 Feb.


DRAMA CHARLOTTE GRAY (15) 121 mins .00

There's a fundamental flaw |.". Charlotte Gray. lt's the story cf a young woman from l-Xlinburgl‘ who is trained as a spy by the British Arm; (luring \‘lorld V-Jar II and dropped into occupied France to ‘.'.'(;r'k '.'.'llll the Resistance movement. lhe uni/earth of documentatrorr about the il‘.’(l‘f; of tl‘e real operatwes dramatrsed by. Sebastian Faulks' novel - and .'l(,‘.'.' scr'rpt\.'.rrrter‘ Jerenn Brock and d;r-.e’;t',r Gillian Armstrong's f'r'm suggests fl‘e spies lead a life on the ra/or's edge: one mistake and their l(i(}ltili‘, would be revealed and they'd be killei l. Yrit: would think. giver. th s scenarrc. that Charlotte Gray ‘.'.'ould be a susper seful him. But it isn't: :t's about as tense as an episode of Lil/lo, Til/o. The problem is Brock. who till the big time wrth h s script for Fri/s Brow: focuses too much on the characters and not enougl on the action l'hese rnrght sound like the ‘.'.'ords of a philistine. but in (i()lli(}l‘.l:!‘-tl lt-inself with character arc and tuba-t; i‘ p; ssage narrative. Brook and ft. in- fair. Armstrong -— have alrgacior‘e’f t' - heightened drama of the star).

Theresa t3(7(3l‘.i}ifill'l‘, ;‘:l‘. int; ‘i "i. when she has Just arr:‘.'<‘-<l ir‘. a smai pr‘o\.'rncrai French l()'.'.’l‘. As she attempts to make contact '.'.'ii'l l‘w’fl Resistance l:a:s.n. the :rt'var :; arrested b1, the French authorities 7‘ collaboration ‘.'.'rth the (:‘zc-r‘rnatr‘s. "t: of course. trzls (Iliaractte t2" ten" Noun; Catc- l‘ilgrnti'reft is‘ i '. convincing playing ()har'efte. ‘. scer‘e strl' falls ‘lat.

Another p'o'trlertt is. Ithl'. Huck}.

adaptafm’i. tl‘ocgrl‘

strearrrlivt-rtg t to .“U'AI”. '(i"-'_:t“ S‘.".’ll’.|‘, through (Iliariotte's g‘t-' 2: arm\, training .n l ()l‘xlkii‘. .Z':: .r;?lvy..‘ therefore. fujlx to tilil)':fl‘l.l'.(' desperatror‘. and desire tl‘;‘:'. that“ to \.olunteer for soc." tiarrae' \1‘: .' rher prime rt‘t‘tr.;1t:t>rt »:; f. ."i'f fiancee. a." RN plot unfit}; :\:: "a action in i 'ancev.

thanks to tire i‘tt-rf;7"“,‘:l‘f-.::;. " Blanche-It. l-Sfin, (harm; as a Resistance 're-":: .r'u: .‘".l tE.-.": planing hrs est'arrtied ’at're'. t T" (Eral' is no disaster. It's ast f".li 7‘.

could bane been t)": llif’lf?!) “-'-itl’.t‘:".it‘llitf. l’\1l"':ii l’.i'."'

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~- ‘~: THE LIST 23