Women Take Over Crime Genre
Females have taken over the crime genre. No longer do we have James Cagney smashing a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face nor Edward G. Robinson chewing a cigar and growling “yeah!” Gone are the days when a snarling and cackling Richard Widmark pushes an old lady down the stairs in her wheelchair. Those were the days of real criminals and low-lifes. Today we have glamorous gals planning heists and knocking over Cartier’s for diamonds. They don’t carry machine guns or even smart pearl-handled guns concealed in their Gucci purses. They use their brainy heads instead. Not much physical excitement displayed there, but they show us that females are the stronger and smarter sex.
Sandra Bullock, a lady who is at home doing physical comedy, lays low in Ocean’s 8 by playing Debbie, sister of Danny Ocean (George Clooney), the original criminal planner in the previous films. He’s long gone and she plans to take over and do it her way. Ms. Bullock is an uncanny woman who never looks a day older than when she began her career years ago in her first film, Hangman, 1987. She was 23. She now looks 24. That’s beside the point. She’s a fun actress, very likeable in whatever she does, and this time out she decides to be a very naughty girl.
After spending time in prison, Debbie gets out and plans a major jewel heist with her best girlfriend Lou, played by that terrific Aussie Cate Blanchett. The word “chic” was invented for the glamorous Ms. Blanchett, who at 49 puts to shame anyone half her age. Ms. Blanchett allegedly had to build another room onto her house to accommodate all her acting awards, which include two Oscars®, one as Best Supporting for playing Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator and one as Best Actress for Blue Jasmine.
Debbie and Lou cook up a scheme to rob the annual Met Gala in New York as well as to steal a fabulous Cartier necklace that weighs oodles of carats. When the ladies visit the iconic jewelry palace on Fifth Avenue, they are confronted by the elegant and nearly imperious Cartier president, played deliciously by Alexander Blaise. He’s just as snooty as you would expect, and rightly so. With that bauble checked out, they move on to plan a heist at the fabulous gala. It’s THE event of the year for all glamorous New Yorkers, including all the models and actresses on the “A” List. Keep a sharp eye out for cameos by fashion guru Anna Wintour, Heidi Klum, Katie Holmes and a gaggle of other glitterati. The beautiful gowns, hairstyles, and flowers galore put this event as the one where, if you don’t get an invitation you will slash your wrists and move to Pumpkin Junction, Tennessee.
Joining Debbie and Lou on their exploit to denude New York of its jewels are Constance (Awkwafina), Rose (Helena Bonham Carter), Amita (Mindy Kaling), Tammy (Sarah Paulson), Nine Ball (Rihanna), and Daphne (Anne Hathaway). A mixed bag, to be sure, but each one has her reasons for wanting to get ahead and become rich the easy way. Bonham Carter plays a failed fashion designer, and her hilarious outfits (by costume designer Sarah Edwards) give you a clue as to why she’s a flop. The other ladies don’t have much of a chance to develop a character, with one exception. That sparkling star is Ms. Hathaway, who plays a glimmering celebrity spoiled beyond yesterday’s garbage. She’s vain, pampered and greedy. Hathaway wrings all she can from her character and is the funniest woman in the cast.
Ocean’s 8 turns out to be a charming and funny film, but it lacks the excitement generated in the previous films. Perhaps it’s a little short on morality because the women are criminals. Still, it stands on its own as a view to the future of female-driven film, and it’s a good start.
(Released by Warner Bros/ Village Roadshow Pictures and rated “PG-13” for language, drug use, and some suggestive content.)