'Burlesque' and 'Ocean's Eleven' | Quarantine Film Club (Week 2)
For Week 2 of our little Quarantine Film Club I let everyone else decide the line-up. In a poll posted to our Facebook group Burlesque won the popular vote, followed by Soderbergh's Ocean's 11.
The former film revolves around Christina Aquilera's Ali, and while her transition into the acting world isn't exactly smooth her impressive voice allows for a few, enjoyable musical numbers. She's joined by Cher, the Academy Award winner who gives a great performance. Unfortunately, the film falls victim to its distinctly post-feminist ideology and, while it clearly aspires to make some points regarding sexism on the stage, it ends up relying on problematic cliches just as easily found in the 1940's backstage musical.
One place where the film does succeed is in its light and gentle depiction of Cher's friend Sean. Tucci already wrote himself into queer culture with his performance in The Devil Wears Prada (2006), but Burlesque treats 'Sean' with an openness and a candidness that still seems rare in mainstream Hollywood. Tucci's character isn't reduced to a sexless 'gay best friend', and the script's surprisingly authentic depiction of queer culture finds itself at a stark contrast with the current representational issues that plague modern day, mainstream cinema. Ultimately, Burlesque knew its audience; the character's presence was a nice way for the film to acknowledge a demographic which would inevitably contribute a significant proportion of its box office.
The next film chosen by club members was 2001's Ocean's Eleven, another film I hadn't seen before but one I actually really loved. While stellar casts usually overcrowd a film and limit it's potential (see: Gangster Squad, Aloha, Movie 43, etc.), Ocean's Eleven managed to balance it's crew with genuine skill and flair, allowing for the heist in question to be the flick's main focus. Limiting stars like Julia Roberts or Bernie Mac to relatively minor roles doesn't, here, feel wasteful. Instead, it makes the world of the film feel far richer than your usual crime-comedy would and organically cultivates the potential for sequels down the line. Needless to say, I'm excited to dig-in to the rest of the Ocean's series going forward.
Another thing that makes Ocean's 11 noteworthy was the timing of it's release. The film was in post-production when the 9/11 terror attacks took place and, given the nature of its story, some sequences had to be re-shot. One such sequence revolved around the planned demolition of Las Vegas' New York, New York Hotel, but the Vegas structure's pastiche resemblance to the actual Manhattan skyline proved a cause for concern post-9/11. The shot was edited just before the film's roll-out across the globe, and the sequence that remains depicts a fake hotel, 'The Xanadu', which sits before a digitally-altered Vegas skyline.
Now it's time to turn our attention towards Week 3, and this time round you guys have voted for the line-up once again. Tuesday night's film will be Hook, Steven Spielberg's fan-favorite continuation of the Peter Pan tale. On Friday we'll trade pixie dust for a shot-gun; A Quiet Place, 2018's acclaimed thriller, will see us venture into the wild alongside real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski. The screenings will both take place at 7pm, and I'll be posting the Netflix Party links for the watch-alongs in the Quarantine Film Club Facebook Group closer to the time.
Thanks to everyone who supported Week 2 of our Quarantine Film Club, it's been really fun so far. I want to give a particular shout-out to the Eirich family who all enjoyed Ocean's Eleven on Friday from the safety of their sofa. Keep on social distancing lads, this will all be over eventually.
Love, James x