Ocean's Thirteen


Counting Ellen Barkin and Mr. Soderbergh himself, more than a baker’s dozen of very talented people are completely wasted in this redundant bore. I get the idea all involved are having a blast making these movies, but by the second sequel of the first remake, the breeziness has turned smug and the exceedingly baroque casino-busting shenanigans have become tiresome. Who cares how Clooney & Co. get the remote-controllable magnetic ingredient into the factory that mixes the plastic which goes into the dice that an inhumanly tan self-parody of Al Pacino uses on his craps tables? Not even entertaining enough to while away the time on a transatlantic flight.

Ocean’s Thirteen. Steven Soderbergh, 2007. *

The Big Easy

How not to do local color, y’all. Director Jim McBride lays on the Louisiana stereotypes in this Southern cop romance. From the first “Where are you at?” to the last gumbo party, the New Orleans details feel second-hand to me–and I’m just a German boy who happened to live there for a little while. I do know what Tipitina’s looks like from the inside, and that studio set wasn’t even close.

No matter. A Disney World version of New Orleans will serve just fine as backdrop for a steamy 80s love affair. Ellen Barkin, that strange and fascinating creature, plays a principled but inexperienced prosecutor who comes to investigate corruption in Dennis Quaid’s NOPD. There are murders to be solved, but never mind the plot. Quaid is all easy come-ons and grins as wide as Lake Pontchartrain, and you can’t wait for Barkin to let down her hair and be seduced while the Neville Brothers sing. With John Goodman, Ned Beatty, and Grace Zabriskie as “Mama.”

The Big Easy. Jim McBride, 1987. ***