Sunday, August 20, 2017

Ocean's 7-Eleven

Steven Soderbergh said Side Effects (2013, Steven Soderbergh) would be the last film he directed.

Remember in summer 2013 when Spring Breakers (2012, Harmony Korine), The Bling Ring (2013, Sofia Coppola), and Pain & Gain (2013, Michael Bay) were all released and all of them had young sexy good looking people performing capers?

Logan Lucky (2017, Steven Soderbergh) is a classic star-studded Hollywood heist comedy set in the South. This is Soderbergh in top form. This is a seasoned veteran auteur working within the narrow confines of the crime genre and pushing the craft to its most effective potential, for a broad audience, playing by the rules, and orchestrating our emotions the whole time knowing he's gonna leave us with a life affirming ode to good people. Soderbergh has done more experimenting in the last 30 years than any other American filmmaker; but he rotates between one for me and one for them. This is maybe his best one for them he's done since the Ocean's trilogy.

And this is really weird, but it sounds like this weekend Logan Lucky didn't perform as well at the box office as some were expecting it should. Could this possibly have anything to do with last weekend's vehicle ramming and deaths during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville? The Hitman's Bodyguard with Samuel L. Jackson debuted to a strong opening at number 1 this weekend. Okay I'll stop here. I'm not supposed to talk about this kind of stuff, it doesn't have anything to do with the movie.

But Logan Lucky is centered on rednecks in West Virginia. And what I couldn't get over was how well paced and funny its story is crafted. Logan Lucky is a strong character piece and reminds me of how intelligent and dramatically effective the Hollywood screwball comedies of the 1930s were. Chan as JIMMY LOGAN and Craig as JOE BANG deliver star performances. Has Daniel Craig ever done a comedy before? He's great in Logan Lucky. The comedy is what did it for me, but progressively I had so many unstoppable crying attacks over sentimental moments that I feared I may have developed a medical condition.

Ever since Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004, Quentin Tarantino) I've claimed that that's the only movie that caused me to cry tears of joy. Every other of the countless moments I've cried in movies have been from sorrow. Logan Lucky bests Kill Bill by having several moments that devastated me with their old-fashioned sweet morals and good nature.

The rest of the cast includes a knockout where has she been Katie Holmes, who really lights up the third act in gold capri pants and a silk leopard tank top; Adam Driver as CLYDE LOGAN, sounding like the manchild from Tideland and acting like DELMAR from O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Katherine Waterston with her same Alien: Covenant doo and looking as adorable as always; also with Seth Macfarlane as a cockney asshole called MAX CHILBLAIN who almost turned the whole thing too silly and into Talladega Nights though.

Some of my favorite of the comic gags involve Jimmy's ongoing hatred of cellphones, like the scene where after the barfight Chilblain's cronies are attempting to phone for help. Seriously, I laughed a lot. And holy crap that scene of the bear in the woods! Who throws in jokes like that? The bear moment defies all logic and is never explained. It's brilliant. I love it! Also, yeah, maybe it's almost too cheesy, but I love the gag with the prison inmates desperate for new George R.R. Martin novels.

What carried me as fast as a speeding NASCAR into the third act was the thrill of hoping maybe they'd get away with it. And without spoiling anything, Logan Lucky caught me off guard and its unpredicted ending impressed the hell out of me. And it also made me love rednecks this weekend. Like any group, they're not all bad. Another thing that works toward making this such a feel good movie is the central father daughter relationship, and how real it feels, bolstered by a chemistry that features exchanges between the way smarter young girl and the father who's proud of her. Man, I didn't know I was so vulnerable to this kind of maudlin confection.

The actress who plays Jimmy's daughter is great. She's whip-smart, clever, funny, and tucks her smartphone in the front waist of her wind pants.

I'm glad I wasn't scared off by the Logan Family Curse and Logan Lucky might be my favorite movie of 2017. It's like Soderbergh is teaching a class on how to apply classic Hollywood basics and almost a miracle that it actually works so well.

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