A funny thing happened last night. Lately, I’ve been slogging my way through the Sidney Lumet films I haven’t yet seen. Up last night was Lumet’s The Pawnbroker, starring a nearly unrecognizable Rod Steiger as a quiet, Jewish pawnbroker internally suffering from the Nazi persecution he endured decades ago.
About 45 minutes into the movie, I completely passed out, which, for me, is extremely rare. I was out for a good hour, and by the time I came to, my TV was stuck on The Pawnbroker’s looping DVD menu. Accepting that it was best to cut my losses and not attempt round two with the heavy handed, black and white drama, I turned on the TV, and aimlessly began flipping through in a half-dream state.
(For the record, what I saw of The Pawnbroker was good, damn good in fact. I have every intention of finishing it later tonight.)
After a few moments, I stopped on HBO, which was playing Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11. And that’s when something amusing occurred to me. Ocean’s 11 is a clever, breezy film that I’ve always enjoyed. But before last night, I had no idea how endlessly rewatchable it is.
Let me explain. When I settled on Ocean’s 11 last night, the movie was well into its second act. (I think I came in when Matt Damon’s character is describing to Brad Pitt how Terry Benedict is “a machine.” Again… I was half asleep.)
I had every intention of watching the movie only until I was awake enough to crawl my ass up to bed. But lo and behold, I sat and watched the flick for its duration. Laughing at all the lines I always laugh at, raising my eyebrows at all the editing and camera techniques I’m always impressed by, and so on. In fact, the only time I got up from the couch was to get a Stella from the fridge.
I don’t know what it is about Ocean’s 11 that’s so appealing. The plentiful marquee stars fitting seamlessly into their roles, Ted Griffin’s sneaky (and flawless) dialogue, Peter Andrews’ (a Soderbergh pseudonym) hip, European cinematography, David Holmes’ revelatory score, the sleek costumes; it all just works. (Full disclosure: I recently watched the HBO documentary His Way, about legendary Hollywood producer, and Ocean’s 11 financer, Jerry Weintraub, which, I’m sure, contributed to my Ocean’s 11 interest.)
Ocean’s 11 isn’t Soderbergh’s best film, in fact, on the Directors section of this blog, I cited Soderbergh’s sex, lies and videotape, Out of Sight, Traffic and Solaris as being as good, or better, than Ocean’s 11. What it is, however, is a rare Hollywood hybrid that doesn’t treat its audience like morons. It’s smart, fun, and wholly entertaining. Which is why every single time I come across it, I stop and watch for a few minutes (or, in the case of last night, until the end.)
What about you? What are some of your favorite middle-of-the-night, half-asleep, watch-until-the-end flicks?