Tag Archives: Anne Hathaway

‘Ocean’s 8’ is Simple Fun that Goes Down Smoothly

As far as all-female reboots/re-imaginings of classic film franchises go, the bar for this to beat “Ghostbusters” was not that high…

“Ocean’s 8” stars Sandra Bullock as the estranged sister of Danny Ocean, and follows her as she puts together a crew of women to steal a diamond necklace during the Met Gala in New York City. Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna and Helena Bonham Carter fill out the group as Gary Ross directs and co-writes.

I don’t think anyone was dying to see this franchise revisited but when it was announced with the gender-swap twist there really wasn’t much backlash like the “Ghostbusters” remake/reboot saw. This was mainly because the trailers weren’t historically bad and the fanbase isn’t as cutthroat as that of “Ghostbusters.” And for the most part, also unlike “Ghostbusters” (which I’ll stop comparing this to because it’s a lazy association), “Ocean’s 8” does a good job of setting itself apart from its predecessors and (mostly) never trying to duplicate or one-up them.

The cast is obviously top-notch, full of Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winners, and they for the most part get equal screen time to play around. Some of them do get pushed to the side save for a randomly inserted “look at the crew bonding!” clip, like when Awkwafina shows Mindy Kaling how to use Tinder in a scene that last 30 seconds and leads nowhere. Anne Hathaway, my first true Hollywood crush, comes close to stealing every scene she is in playing a ditsy celebrity who is the target of the heist. Hathaway is essentially the exaggerated meme that society and the Hathahaters have painted her out to be and it’s a blast watching her play into it.

Much like the heist itself the glue at the center of the film is Bullock, who carries herself with a cocky but still kind-hearted way about her. We aren’t given much to her character besides she’s a thief who likes thieving and has a few bad relationships from her past but that never really hinders our viewing experience. James Cordon also shows up toward the end of the film and while the plotline he’s involved in goes on for far too long, he provides some of the film’s biggest laughs.

Now the heist itself is alright, there are a few intense moments and a couple creative ways the crew works around problems, but there are also *a lot* of things we’ve seen before, not only in the previous “Ocean’s” films but just heist plots in general. There is also a twist that I did not think was handled well (or plausibly) and it was only made worse by the fact that the marketing campaign inadvertently spoils it.

The film is shot well with a nice gleam (this is the Met Gala, after all) and the editing is sometimes fun and quick but other times holds for too long or don’t create a beat for the dialogue to be delivered properly.

“Ocean’s 8” is light entertainment that for the most part does not try to be anything else. There a few fun cameos and amusing one-liners, but mostly this is a movie focused on letting several Hollywood stars have a great time and allow the audience to do the same and there’s usually nothing wrong with that.

Critic’s Grade: B–

Flawed ‘Intern’ Gets by on Charm

The_Intern_PosterAh, September. You wonderful buffer between summer blockbusters and Oscar season…

“The Intern” stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway and is written and directed by Nancy Meyers. When retirement proves to be too boring for 70-year-old Ben Whittaker (De Niro), he enrolls in a senior internship program at an internet fashion company led by Jules Ostin (Hathaway). Rene Russo, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm co-star.

September usually contains two types of movies: trash that couldn’t fit into January and August (“The Transporter Refueled”) and decent films that still aren’t quite good enough to be worthy of Oscar season (“Black Mass,” even if Depp will get his nod). “The Intern” falls into the latter category, as it is a flawed but charming little film that never tries to be more than it is not.

Anne Hathaway makes everything she’s in better, that’s long established (if you don’t believe me try watching “Brides Wars” or “Les Misérables” and skip over her scenes and tell me with a straight face those movies are enjoyable). Meanwhile it’s been a while since Robert De Niro actually tried to do some serious acting (one could argue he has given two dedicated performances the past 10 years). So they may seem like an odd pairing, but their abstract chemistry is what makes “The Intern” work.

There are a few routes this film could have taken, and had it chosen those paths it would have been a conventional feel-good story, likely featuring a hardened boss who has to continuously teach her technology challenged senior citizen intern about the modern world. But writer/director Meyers instead choses to go an alternative route, still making De Niro’s character a fish-out-of-water, but never panders us or tries to force “ha! He’s old, get it?!” jokes down our throats. And instead of starting out like Sandra Bullock’s unlikable boss in “The Proposal,” Hathaway is just a busybody who we like from the get-go, which makes her easier for the audience to root for and relate to.

The film has its share of chuckle moments, and two laugh-out-loud gags including a fantastic sequence where De Niro and a group of other interns break into a house and steal a computer, but mostly the film skates by on its charm. Like I said, Hathaway is likable no matter what, but De Niro has this sense of optimism about him that is just infectious, and it puts you in a happy mood right out the gate.

Now I have to list the film’s flaws, both because that’s part of the job of movie reviewing and because I am a cynical person by nature. The film tries to force conflict into random segments just for the sake of having conflict, and all it does is add unnecessary time to the film’s length, which brings me to my biggest problem with the film.

Although I was never bored, the film isn’t paced well. After that brilliant robbery scene I figured the film had covered all the bases it needed to and would begin to wrap up; except that was only around the halfway point of the film (the running time is two hours). There are numerous points, in fact, that I thought the film would begin to end, only to have it introduce new plotlines. It isn’t overindulgence for ego sake like a Peter Jackson film, but it does stop the film from being breezy.

“The Intern” is pretty much exactly what you would expect to get based on the trailer, director, cast and/or plot, and that’s ok. It is flawed, sure, but those flaws are for the most part outweighed by dedicated work from Hathaway, De Niro and company. It’s a good date movie for all ages, and a nice buffer film as we enter the Fall Movie Season.

Critics Rating: 6/10



‘Interstellar’ Reaches for the Stars, Scratches Greatness

interstellar            In his first directorial effort since completing his Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan returns to the visually striking and mind-bending side of films with “Interstellar”.

Set in the future on a dying planet Earth, several astronauts (Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway) set out into a wormhole near Saturn to try and find a new planet suitable for human life. Nolan favorite Michael Caine plays the intellectual head of the project and Jessica Chastain also stars.

Say what you will about Christopher Nolan films, but one thing that is undeniable is that every one of his movies has large scopes and ambitions. The problem most of his films not named “Inception” and “The Dark Knight” have are that the scope is often too big to fill. “Interstellar” sets the bar incredibly high (that bar being an entirely different galaxy) and for most of the film it appears like it will reach that bar and be something great; before the wheels come off in the final act.

The acting in the film is great across the board. McConaughey, fresh off his first Oscar for the superb “Dallas Buyers Club”, shows that his 2013 was no fluke. He plays a father who is conflicted with possibly saving the human race, but while leaving his children behind for years in the process. He still has his signature droll and charm, but this is a side of McConaughey we’ve never seen. My future wife Anne Hathaway is equally as solid as McConaughey’s fellow astronaut, a woman torn between morals and emotion.

The visuals in the film are striking and much like last year’s “Gravity” there are shots that show the pure magnitude of space that will leave you breathless. On numerous occasions the camera pulls up to show the small ship riding among the sea of stars in complete silence, and for a split second it puts everything in perspective.

Everything was going great with “Interstellar”, and for a moment I thought maybe this could be the next space classic a la “2001”, but then the final act happens. I obviously can’t say much of anything without spoiling it, but it is one of those moments that while you watch it transpire you just think, “Oh. Well. Um…ok. Sure, I guess.” I really think the studio gave Nolan complete control of this project, and that may have been a slip-up on their end.

There are also the classic (at this point cliché) “Nolan-isms”, such as underdeveloped side characters, plot holes and the aforementioned unfillable scope, but they aren’t as prevalent or glaring here as with his other projects.

“Interstellar” has no right being nearly three hours long, but there was not a second during it that I was bored. The performances are great, the visuals are outstanding and there are several very well-directed moments of tension, one of which had the entire audience gasp at the same time. “Interstellar” reaches for the stars and they just barely evade its grasp, but just because it is not a stellar movie (*snickers*) does not mean it is a trip you can afford not to take.

Critics Rating: 8/10