Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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My Review of OCEAN’S 8

Ocean’s 8, rated PG-13

Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining, all-women sequel to the Ocean’s trilogy that was launched in 2001, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred George Clooney as Danny Ocean. Those Ocean’s films were actually a remake of the 1960 Ocean’s 11 film starring the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., etc.).  Soderbergh serves as producer for this film. The film, which features an all-star cast, is directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Dave, Big), and written by Ross and Olivia Milch.
Oscar winner (The Blind Side) Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the estranged younger sister of Danny. The film begins as Debbie is finishing a five-year prison sentence. Although she convincingly assures the parole board that she is looking forward to the simple life, in reality, she has spent the past five years, eight months and 12 days planning her next big heist. Immediately after being released from prison she cons her way through a department store and into a high-end Manhattan hotel room. So much for the simple life.
Shortly after that Debbie contacts her best friend and nightclub owner Lou, played by two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, The Aviator), to tell her of her plan to steal a large diamond. The $150 million diamond necklace, weighing in excess of six pounds, is locked in an underground Cartier vault, and only removed for special occasions.  One such event is the Met Gala, the annual fashion extravaganza at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it will be worn by the famous actress Daphne Kluger, played by Oscar winner Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables).
Debbie and Lou then go about putting together their dream team to carry out their audacious plan. Their team will be comprised of all women, because as Debbie says “A ‘him’ gets noticed. A ‘her’ gets ignored. And for once, we want to be ignored.” Each of the women will bring a specific talent to the team.
Their team is comprised of singer Rihanna as the hacker Nine Ball, two-time Oscar nominee Helena Bonham Carter (The Wings of the Dove, The King’s Speech) as Rose Weil, a struggling high-end fashion designer, Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (American Crime Story), as Tammy, a former fence (middleman), who is trying to live a quiet life as a mom in the suburbs, rapper-comedian Awkwafina as the pickpocket Constance, and six-time Emmy nominee Mindy Kaling (The Office) as the jeweler Amita.
Fashion plays a big part in this film. Costume design is by Sarah Edwards. She not only outfits Ocean’s gang, but we also see incredible fashion on display at the Met Gala. We see Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour, as well as a number of celebrities at the Gala.
How Ocean’s 8 carry out the heist with the tremendous amount of security around the diamond necklace was entertaining, and includes some plot twists, though the lead up to that was a bit slow.
There is also a subplot of revenge involving one of Debbie’s former lovers, Claude Becker, the art dealer played by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit films, Hannibal). Four-time Emmy winner James Corden (The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, The 70th Annual Tony Awards) plays the excitable insurance investigator John Frazier.
The film gets its “PG-13” rating for adult language, including at least one abuse of Jesus’ name. Themes include theft, revenge and deception.
Ocean’s 8 is an entertaining twist on the Oceans films, this time using an all-female crew. The performances by Bullock and Cate Blanchett lead the way for this strong cast.

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My Review of UNSANE

Unsane, rated R
** ½

Unsane is a disturbing psychological thriller starring Claire Foy of The Crown, that definitely keeps your interest throughout but has some content issues (see below) and needs a better ending.
The film is directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) and written by Jonathan Bernstein and James Greer, who last worked together on The Spy Next Door. The film reportedly had a budget of just $1.2 million, and was shot creatively using an iPhone camera, adding to the intensity that the viewer experiences.  The viewer has to decide whether the lead character is a victim of a stalker or of mental illness.

Sawyer Valentini, played by Golden Globe winner Claire Foy (The Crown), lived in Boston where she was being stalked by a man named David Strine, played by Joshua Leonard. The two originally met while Sawyer was caring for David’s father as he was dying. David became obsessed with her during that time. Sawyer is traumatized by David, and this has negatively impacted every facet of her life.
To get away from him, she takes a job in Pennsylvania about 450 miles away to start a new life. There however, she has no friends or family, and continues to feel like David is stalking her. After an experience with a date reminds her of her stalker, she realizes that she needs help. She seeks out the help of a counselor at the Highland Creek hospital. After her first session, she completes what she believes and is told is just routine “boilerplate” paperwork, but that paperwork voluntarily commits her to at least a 24 hour stay in the mental health ward.
As can be expected, Sawyer reacts violently to being held against her will and strikes one of the employees, resulting in increasing her time in the hospital to a minimum of seven days.
Sawyer first calls the police and then her mother Angela, played by Oscar nominee Amy Irving (Yentl), pleading with her to get her out of the hospital. Her mother tells her that she will work with lawyers to get her out.
Sawyer meets other patients in the hospital, including an angry and violent Violet, played by Juno Temple, and another who is friendly toward her, Nate, played by Jay Pharoah (Saturday Night Live). Nate tells her that she is being held as a part of an insurance scam by the hospital.
Sawyer then sees David (her stalker) working in the hospital handing out medication.  As we watch the film, we don’t really know if Sawyer is being held against her will, or if she is actually mentally ill. I’ll bet you’ll want to rewrite the ending like we did in order to make it more satisfying – maybe more on the order of The Sixth Sense?

The film earns its “R” rating due to a substantial amount of adult language, including some of a sexual nature, and a few abuses of God’s name. The film also contains a significant amount of violence, tending toward a horror movie genre at times.
Unsane features a strong performance by Claire Foy as Sawyer, as she plays a character very much different from Queen Elizabeth. The film is a disturbing, nightmarish psychological thriller with some content concerns and would certainly not be considered family friendly.  By the way, there were some really scary previews that went along with this movie!

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My Review of LOGAN LUCKY 

Logan Lucky, rated PG-13

Logan Lucky is an off-beat heist comedy that is slow and has too few memorable moments.
This film is directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) who also directed the Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen films. The writing is credited to Rebecca Blunt, who is actually suspected to be Soderbergh’s wife Julie Asner, who is from West Virginia, a location central to this story, as is a certain John Denver song.
The film is about the Logan family from West Virginia – brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum, Magic Mike, Foxcatcher), and Clyde (Adam Driver, Star Wars, Silence, Paterson) as well as their sister Mellie Logan (Riley Keough, the eldest grandchild of Elvis Presley). The family is known for their bad luck, and some feel that they are cursed. Jimmy was a football star and homecoming king in high school, but a leg injury changed that. Now he walks with a limp and is divorced with a young daughter; Clyde lost his arm in the war in Iraq. He has a prosthetic hand and wrist, and now tends bar where Jimmy is a regular.
Jimmy works a construction job beneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. The speedway has a sinkhole problem and he is part of a team of ex-coal miners brought in to fix it. He needs the job to pay alimony to his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) and provide child support for his daughter Sadie (Farrah MacKenzie). Sadie is preparing for a Little Miss West Virginia beauty pageant, and Jimmy has promised her that he will be there for her pageant.
But when management sees Jimmy limping, they fire him because he didn’t disclose the injury on his employment application. Jimmy then comes up with a plan to change the family’s luck. He and Clyde used to pull small heist jobs years ago. From his work at the speedway, Jimmy has knowledge of a series of underground tubes that run from the speedway’s concession stands to a central bank vault. He sets up a plan to rob the speedway. But he and Clyde need the help of safe cracker and explosives expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig, James Bond) and Joe’s two brothers, Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid). But there’s just one small problem: Joe is in prison.
Adam Driver and Channing Tatum are effective in their roles as the Logan brothers, and have good chemistry. Daniel Craig was excellent playing the blue-collar criminal Joe Bang.  Other notables in small roles include Dwight Yoakum as the incompetent prison warden Burns, two-time Oscar winner Hillary Swank as FBI Special Agent Sarah Grayson, Seth MacFarlane (Ted) as Max Chilblain and Katherine Waterston as Sylvia Harrison, who knew Jimmy from high school.
The film pokes fun of the hillbilly culture of West Virginia. But we didn’t find the film very funny, and didn’t hear many “laugh out louds” in the theatre. There were some parts of the film – particularly the carrying out of Jimmy’s plan – that were creative, featuring excellent writing. But those parts were a relatively small part of the film, and for the most part, the film dragged.
The film included some adult language and abuse of God’s name. The product placements in this movie were as prevalent and prolific as a NASCAR driver’s uniform.   A positive aspect of the film was the positive relationship Jimmy had with daughter Sadie.