Perhaps because I suddenly have some hard-fast deadlines for my thesis project (the erstwhile KS-in-the-sixties novel), I’ve become enamored, again, with screenwriting. I have a two-year-old screenplay that’s never done anything but sit on my hard drive and, briefly, on the desk of my screenwriting professor. He liked it, and said I should send it somewhere, but I was fixated on short stories at the time. They were, after all, what got me into grad school and gave me that one lonely publication.
Anyway, so, the fun thing about screenwriting is that suddenly, TV and movie-watching is like homework! So I went to see Ocean’s Thirteen today. What did I learn? Oh, if you’re Steven Soderbergh, you can get away with almost anything. There’s some very effective direction in here and some stunning cinematography: The view is almost as blurry, at times, as the plot, and I’ve got to believe that’s on purpose. We’re not supposed to know where to look, right? There’s no predictable focus. Typical Vegas. Also, all of the sideline dialogue between Ocean and Rusty is great, the tiny clips of dialogue we aren’t meant to completely understand — they’re just running dialogue bits that serve to characterize the men and their understanding of each other. Which is cool, I guess, though without the whiz-bang action bits (the payoffs is the actual heist) I’m not sure I could take 1:30 of a movie consistently saying, “Yeah, you don’t understand this but it doesn’t matter, you’re not supposed to understand it,” which boils down to: “Hey, trust us, we’re smarter than you.”
The weird thing is: I did trust this movie. I knew that tiny details that seemed not to make sense would, in the end, make sense again. And I was willing to let them off the hook for the big things (sneaking in the drill that made the Chunnel?). Anyway, it’s interesting to try and figure out how that’s done. And, as always, I’m a sucker for the movie that knows it’s a movie (Ocean (George Clooney) to Rusty (Brad Pitt), at the end: You should settle down. Have a couple of kids).