Behind the Screen, By Kathryn Whitney Boole
Rated PG-13, 110 Minutes, Released June 8
Can a movie draw you in with almost no violence, no explosions and no sex scenes? “Ocean’s 8” will do just that – and you will also have fun with the neatly hidden clues and references to culture, history and classic movie lore. Notice as the camera pans a Met museum display of lavish Russian Imperial era jewels, “Lara’s Theme” from David Lean’s Dr. Zhivago plays in the background. Anyone who has studied film history or seen old movies will recognize this haunting melody that hints of long-ago Russia. Sandra Bullock as Debbie Ocean sips a martini that she has carried with her in its shaker to visit her brother Danny’s grave, obviously “shaken, not stirred.”
The “Ocean’s 8” screenplay by Olivia Milch and director Gary Ross is smart, great storytelling and full of fun. Ross has written and directed such films as “Big” and “The Hunger Games”. Milch is the daughter of David Milch (“Deadwood,” “NYPD Blue”). The movie is fast-paced, though not quite as rapid-clip as “Ocean’s 11”. Superb acting makes this movie work. Casting Director Debra Zane did a brilliant job. Even with a large cast from wide cultural backgrounds, you will feel that you know each character. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter display quirks that we see in ourselves and in our friends, and each has the skill to paint a fascinating personality in a minimum of screen time.
Anne Hathaway channels Mae West and other divas of early “talkies,” playing the elegant “star on a pedestal” who turns out in real life to have a truck driver personality and a vocabulary to match. James Corden is hilarious as a “Columbo” type insurance detective who may not be as dedicated to his corporate culture as he seems. Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, plays an innocent weed-smoking busboy for the event. Watch the guests at the Met Gala carefully and you can pick out some social media and movie stars doing fleeting cameos. The musical track by composer Daniel Pemberton is beautifully eclectic, covering many varied cultural styles across the world.
“Ocean’s 8” mocks anyone on today’s grand social stage who takes themselves too seriously. In the end, you are left with an upbeat feeling about the enterprising spirit of humanity, and we do need that so much right now. Humor heals. This band of women prevails, as is the way of women, not by violence and intimidation but with intricate deceit and veiled manipulation. What happens to the stolen necklace in the end is cinematic storytelling at its best, in addition to perhaps being an allegory on the imbalance of wealth and power in our country and throughout the world today.
Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica.