Venganza Media Gazette

Tech, TV, Movies, Games, and More

Now Playing plots holiday heist with ‘Ocean’s’ crew


The “Ocean’s Eleven” series starts Dec. 16

Now Playing Podcast is ringing in the New Year Rat Pack-style, and listeners can join the caper as hosts Jakob, Stuart, and Arnie cap 2014 with reviews of the original Ocean’s Eleven and the George Clooney-led Ocean’s Trilogy.

The lighthearted series is a shift for the heavily horror, sci-fi and superhero-focused show. You’d have to go all the way back to December 2011’s Rocky series to find a Now Playing retrospective without tights, gunfights or gore (except for this part).

The hosts, who spent the better part of 2014 laboring through adaptations of Stephen King’s Night Shift stories, took some time out from recording to chat about their expectations for this A-list franchise.

Q: These movies were hard to miss, what are your Ocean’s memories?

Stuart: I have only seen the first George Clooney movie, and my memory of it is vague but pleasant. I tend to like series’ with a long history to them.

Jakob: I’ve actually seen that first one a handful of times and I remember almost nothing of [Ocean’s] Twelve. I can only hope the sequels have that party vibe of Ocean’s Eleven. That’s why we decided to transition from 2014 to 2015 with these films. Everyone wants to ring in the New Year with a great party.

Stuart: I look forward to seeing the Rat Pack define the Vegas of 1960, before the town and the franchise become more of a theme park attraction with the contemporary films.


The 1960 “Ocean’s” crew

Q: Arnie, did your recent trip to Las Vegas stir Ocean’s memories?

Arnie: I actually stayed at the Bellagio, and while I didn’t encounter Terry Benedict, I did get to watch the fountain show — with Ocean’s well on my mind. I was itching to re-watch the series after that trip.

Strangely the best Vegas connection I had wasn’t from the Ocean’s series, but from The Stand. The crucifixion scene was filmed on Fremont Street in Vegas and some of the signage was very familiar!

Q: Jakob, has there been any talk of starting a “Rat Pack Retrospective”?

Jakob: There wasn’t any talk previous to the decision to cover the original Ocean’s Eleven. Whether we are open to it now? Well, I don’t want to spoil how we feel about the film.

Having covered Sinatra previously in The Detective to kick off our Die Hard series, listener feedback wasn’t great for going back to older films. But I never want to say we absolutely won’t do a series. Maybe we’ll have a “Rat Pack Retrospective” hosted by all of our fathers.

The contemporary "Ocean's" crew

The contemporary “Ocean’s” crew

Q: Stuart, after sitting through Children of the Corn and Leprechaun, are you relieved to take a break from horror for the holidays?

Stuart: There were longer franchise options discussed – the four Gingerdead Man films might have fit nicely under the tree in a different year. But I’m not sure anyone was eager to unwrap anymore low-rent slasher flicks.

I like that we’re getting more into the spirit of New Year’s Eve with Ocean’s Eleven. We hope that listeners are feeling festive too, and won’t mind saving Santa’s Slay or You Better Watch Out for another time.

The 4-film Ocean’s retrospective begins December 16, following the 2-part Maniac series. At the same time, the Now Playing Podcast Fall Pledge Drive will continue on a separate feed, where donors can hear reviews of the Peter Jackson Hobbit films.


November 19, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Now Playing plots holiday heist with ‘Ocean’s’ crew

The American Movie Review

The American Movie Poster

The American

Director:  Anton Corbijn

Writer: Rowan Joffé

Starring:  George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten, Paolo Bonacelli, Irina Björklund

Studio:  Focus Features

Release Date:  September 1, 2010

The American is a taut thriller.  Every actor delivers an authentic performance that makes their character feel real.   Every shot in the film is gorgeous and feels like each frame could be a postcard.  The American may just be the best film I cannot possibly recommend.

Clooney plays Jack, a gunsmith and hit man on the run from relentless Swede assassins.  In most movies with this type of set-up we would see Jack investigate his attackers, eventually uncovering their boss in an action-filled climax, but The American provides a refreshing, seemingly more realistic take.  Instead of going on the offensive, Jack goes into hiding in the Rome countryside, counting on his employer Pavel to keep him safe.  More, this attack has frightened Jack, making him want out of his lethal lifestyle.

It’s a very low-key, suspenseful take on a story about hit-men, and that is The American’s greatest strength.  Even when Jack’s serenity is interrupted by a Swede attack, the action scenes are bloody and short, the exact opposite of the glossy, adrenaline-filled fights in action films like The Bourne Identity.  The scenes are not here to thrill, but to remind Jack, and the audience, that death surrounds him and his quiet respite could come to a bloody end at any moment.  This is driven home to great effect.

Indeed, The American treats the Swedes as a subplot, with the main focus being Jack’s relationship with local prostitute Clara.  What starts as a purely professional relationship ends in a true romance as Jack connects with Clara, despite not ever truly trusting her intentions.  Clara could be a plant, and we’ve already seen Jack kill one girlfriend.  As such, Jack and Clara’s scenes together are always bittersweet as the audience knows at any moment one of these lovers could kill the other.

But despite all that is done right, The American fails in many respects.  Jack is a laconic cipher   We have endless scenes with him drinking coffee, or expertly machining a rifle, but Cloony’s performance always leaves us disconnected from the assassin.  Jack’s lies are told so often and so easily that we never know what to believe.  We don’t trust Jack and Jack trusts no one, leaving the viewer with no character with whom they can relate.  Do we want this agent of death to find love and salvation, or do we want the Swedes to deliver swift justice?

The film’s final fall is in its finale.  As we are kept emotionally distant from our main character, his fate becomes ultimately unimportant.  The suspense of the eventual double-cross reaches its climax, but in an unfulfilling, perfunctory way.

The American is like one of Jack’s guns–lovingly crafted, expertly made, but ultimately cold and mechanical.  Not recommend

March 19, 2013 Posted by | Movies, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Reviews | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The American Movie Review