Thursday, August 2, 2012

Review: Out of Sight (1998)

George Clooney breaks into films (not quite banks) and Soderbergh wreaks some good-natured fun with zany criminal activity, the criminals and cops played by a slew of recognizable A-Listers including the up-for-anything Luis Guzman. Jennifer Lopez plays the tough broad assigned to solve the case and catch Clooney… in more ways than one OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH… hhhhhHHHHHHHHH so what I mean is, she gets weirdly into him after getting strongarmed into a trunk and grinding into his crotch for a long drive. Girls like it when you take a hard hand. Buuuut it ends up being pretty plausible and we as an audience hope that they get to fuck… for some reason…

The love story between them two is the real center of the film, the strong emotional core. Its stages of development are set between Clooney’s narrow escapes and Lopez’s dogged pursuits. It eventually becomes the fuel for the climax, and works better than one might think, perhaps because the diamond heist itself is not the focus, and as such, not as complex. Neither the story itself.

Since he cannot resist with the ballsy experimentation, Soderbergh goes for a minimalist crime-comedy without attempting to hide the minimalism, in a sense pulling out all of the stops by keeping them all in. Scenes are filmed in simple ways and staged in straightforward manners in natural locations or clearly built sets while he conjures naturalistic performances out of a television actor and a musician. It’s almost Sex, Lies and Videotape, with warmer lighting schemes. And there is, of course, the non-linear storytelling aspect.

Out in 1998, this film is another gift from Tarantino’s meteoric rise, and it’s a good one that succeeds where Soderbergh’s own Underneath failed. And in perhaps a unique occurrence that is doubtful to be repeated, it has a strong tie in continuity to Jackie Brown (also based on an Elmore Leonard novel) by way of Michael Keaton returning briefly as Ray Nicolette. One could argue that Samuel Jackson’s cameo as Hejira Henry ruins that tie SO WHAT DON’T YOU RUIN THIS FOR ME!

Out of Sight does well mixing likable criminals with the unlikable ones, weaving it into the framework of the love story, and finding the time for a theme; in a wild west mentality, there are levels of honor associated with your work, but otherwise men and women, cop and criminal, under no uncertain terms, are the same. How do you make that fun? This way I spose. However, for non-linear storytelling with a criminal angle, you know what the Rosetta Stone still is.