Ocean’s 8 Review

Ocean’s 8 is the perfect summer movie; a spritely and buoyant delight that is fun throughout. It almost exactly, and certainly deliberately, follows in the footsteps of Ocean’s 11 and while at times it feels something like a pale imitation, it largely manages to carve out its own identity next to its classic sibling. While it doesn’t really break any new ground, it executes a fun formula well and lets a lot of fun performers show off.

Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, the sister of Danny Ocean, who has just gotten out of prison and has an idea for a heist, as the Oceans tend to do, and maybe for revenge on the man who set her up and sent her to jail. She meets up with the partner, in crime at the very least, Lou (Cate Blanchett) and goes about assembling her team to steal the Tousssiant, a diamond necklace worth 150 million dollars.

It mostly goes along the usual heist formula. It introduces all the players in their elaborate plot, giving each a chance to show off her skills. The plot mostly involves getting a celebrity to borrow the necklace to wear it to the Met Gala, where they can steal it. The biggest part of the plan involves recruiting fashion designer Rose Weil, who gets hired to design the dress for Anne Hathaway’s Daphne Kluger. Kluger is not in on the heist and her unwitting participation is one of the most delightful elements of the movie.

The other members are fun, if somewhat underutilized. Wanting to see more of Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Mindy Kaling makes the idea that this might be the start of a series a promising prospect. The most underused member of the cast is almost certainly Sarah Paulson as a fence who is also a suburban housewife with a shocking awway of skills. This crew deserves to push the series back up to 11.

Then there is the heist, which goes off without much of hitch, though it is still tense and delightful watching it all play out. As these things do, the movie keeps certain elements of the plot from the viewers until they happen, letting it be a surprise as it all comes together. Sometimes these late coming twists can sour the experience, but here each works perfectly. I don’t want to spoil the best ones.

It isn’t quite as good as last year’s Logan Lucky, but it still completely fun and enjoyable. It has a great cast and a glitzy look and keeps the action moving. It is a little derivative and familiar, but Ocean’s 8 is also so much fun.

****1/2

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Unexpected Reflections

When I was first contemplating beginning this blog, I set myself what I soon realized was a fanciful goal: I was going to write 100 posts to have in the bag before I ever started posting anything. That way, I could make a schedule and keep to it. I could write and post things as I finished them and when I got to a post day – the plan then was the same as it is now with post going up M/W/F – with nothing ready to go I could just dig into my backlog of 100 posts and have something right there. I soon realized that doing so was an unrealistic goal. Right now I barely but up 100 blog posts in a year, so it would have essentially meant holding off from starting the blog for a full year, which would have essentially meant never starting it. So then I used it as a bit of a guide, picking something off the list to write about when other inspiration failed me. At some point, I filed away the list in a folder and forgot about it. Now I’ve stumbled across it, half a decade a later and it is a bit like finding a time capsule. This list contains the things that I thought I wanted to write about in 2010. Some I have written about, some I still want to and some I wonder why I ever had them on the list.

Mixed in with childhood movie favorites, like Willow, and some of my favorite games, like Skies of Arcadia and Chrono Cross, are some truly baffling decisions. I apparently felt I had a lot to say about Tim Story’s Fantastic Four movies, which I think I like more than most but they don’t really inspire any strong feelings or thoughts in me. I thought I had an angle to write something about Chuck, a show I stopped watching midway through its second season which had been a couple of years before I made this list. Maybe I was going to write about why I gave up on the show; if that was it I can’t write it now, since I don’ remember anything about that show. I also had quite a few sports things to write on the list, but I don’t really care about sports, especially college sports which made up the bulk of the items, much anymore. I do need to check and see if I ever poster any of the blog posts I wrote about being a Royals fan, from one right after the wild card game to one after they lost the World Series to finally one after they won it the next year.

Skies of Arcadia's wild blue yonder

Skies of Arcadia’s wild blue yonder

A big one is A Song of Ice and Fire. When I made the list I was still among those eagerly awaiting A Dance With Dragons and the show had yet to premiere. The combination of a reread of the series and many tiresome conversations with fans of the show, as well as quite a few fans of the books, soured me on the whole series. What I would have written A Song of Ice and Fire then is very different than what I would write about it now. Is writing about it even still worth pursuing? I have endeavored to make my blog a generally positive place. I’ve never gotten much satisfaction from tearing something down. If I don’t like something, I’ll say that, but I am much more likely to just not write about things I don’t like rather than go out of my way to get mad at it. Still, sometimes putting a contrasting viewpoint out there is cathartic. I don’t have much nice to say about ASoIaF. I am happy that it has its fans and don’t begrudge them their enjoyment of it, but that is not the kind of fantasy I like.

That is another thing this list has brought to mind. I wanted to write about the pop culture that I loved as a child, the interests and experiences that shaped my youth and my tastes to this day. Somehow, though, I’ve managed to turn this blog into largely something more current. I spend a lot more time writing about new games and new movies that I watched recently instead of more formative experiences. The items on my list that fit the criteria of being a childhood favorite are the ones I am more likely to write about.

W...W...Willow you idioooot!

W…W…Willow you idioooot!

Right now, I am thinking of making a concerted effort to write those 100 blog posts I originally planned. I probably won’t change much else about how I do things, but now and then I will throw in an item or two from that rather diverse list. Once I’ve written about all 100, I think that would be a good time to close up shop here. Who knows? I like writing; despite the utter indifference that my meanderings here seem to inspire in people, I get enough out of them to continue doing them. But I am feeling a whole lot less eager to keep this up at the moment. So next week maybe you’ll see me finally put into words my indifference to the charms of Game of Thrones or maybe I will finally finish that long gestating exploration of morality in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Or maybe I will wax nostalgic about watching Willow on repeat. I don’t know.

Time for a Few Changes

I’ve been doing this blog a long time now and I’m getting a little tired of how I have things set up.  So I am going to be making some changes.  A new look, a new name.  I doubt my output will change much, but I kind of hope to have a little more structure to how I do things. (spoiler – that won’t happen) My biggest hope is that the new look and name will spark a change in me. As much as I enjoy writing here, I don’t feel like I’ve grown much as a writer since I started this.  It may be wrong to say this, but I’m not really worried about how many readers I have.  Don’t get me wrong, I hope people read what I write and enjoy it, but this is largely an exercise for me order my thoughts.

The new name is a long time coming.  We are Finally Cowboys has always been stolen from a song title in the game No More Heroes.  I liked that song, and I like the slightly nonsensical whimsy of it.  However, as long as I am using this title, it doesn’t really feel like this is mine.  Also, the sub-head of “A man’s desperate refusal to put away childish things” was cheeky and fun when I started this, but what is amusing to a 24 year old is sometimes a little sad for someone pushing 30.  So that will change as well.  What will it change to? I’m not sure as of yet, but I’ve got it narrowed down to a couple of options.

At the end of last year I tried to get a lot of my ongoing projects finished, not just here but elsewhere.  I finally finished up my let’s play of Fire Emblem: the Sacred Stones over on talking time.  That only took me four years.  I almost finished my much delayed replay of the Legend of Zelda series (my take on Skyward Sword should be up shortly) and I meant to get back and finally finish my reread of Wheel of Time reread, but again I came up short.  I will finish both of those this year.  It will take me a while, but I will also finish my JSA reread, though right now that project feels like it is casting around without a purpose.  There is a good chance that I will start some other project that I lack the time and patience to finish.

Once I complete the unfinished business, I hope to do things a little differently.  I will likely post less frequently, but I hope to make up the difference in the length and quality of my posts. Fewer, more in depth posts is the goal. I guess time will tell.  I will be adding a third regular monthly post, one for movies and TV to go along my with monthly video game and book journals. There are a lot of things I watch or play that I don’t really have 1000 words to say about them, but still want to get some thoughts down.  Also, I plan to add an index, but that project might take me a little longer to get up.

Top 5 Friday Favorite Movies

Just about the easiest list to do. But since I was planning to do a lot of lists, I figured I’d get the easy ones out first. When I made these Top 5 Friday lists I had planned to get a full year’s worth of them before I started posting, but that project died pretty quickly.

These are my 5 favorite movies, with the one stipulation that I am not putting more than one movie of the same series on this list. That rule exists so that the list wasn’t all Indiana Jones and Edgar Wright movies.

fg

5: Flash Gordon – I saw this movie sitting in a hotel room in South Dakota on a vacation to see Mt Rushmore. This movie is still the most memorable thing from that trip. It is nuts, pure campy, drug-induced, fever dream insanity.

hf

4: Hot Fuzz – Any of the three movies in this loose trilogy (Shaun of the Dead and The Worlds End being the other two) could have filled this slot, but Hot Fuzz is the one I like best. It simultaneously a hilarious send up of buddy cop movies while also being a great buddy cop movie. There are so many layers that I was still finding jokes after a handful of viewings.

pr

3: Porco Rosso – I don’t know that I would say that Porco Rosso is the best Miyazaki movie, but it is certainly my favorite. There is just so much beautiful scenery on display as Porco flies around the Adriatic and so many great characters.

tpb

2: The Princess Bride – This film has it all, action, adventure, romance, humor. Somehow it lets viewers know that it is all a story and still gets them to care about the characters. It is constantly destroying suspension of disbelief, but that only somehow strengthens it.

lastcru

1: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – I know that many will question the choice of this over Raiders, it was a close call, but I get just slightly more enjoyment of each viewing of Crusade than Raiders. It is the perfect action comedy.

Yeah, I’ve been gone

Things have been pretty slow around here lately, with only two posts in the last month plus a week or two. Things kept piling up, first one thing keeping me from writing then another. Most of them were the usual boring details of life: I went of vacation for a week, my work schedule changed and took up most of my writing time, etc. A few of those reasons are worth going over in a post.

The first reason is that I bought a Kindle Fire. Time I would previously have used for writing I started using to read crappy free books or watch Arrested Development (speaking of which I really need to write about Arrested Development here) or play terrible app games. I really do like my Kindle. While sorting through a lot of crap books can be tiresome, even if I just used it to read free classics it would be worth the price I paid for it. There is definitely something different about reading a book on a Kindle rather than reading an actual physical book. It is not a good different. I don’t see myself switching over primarily anytime soon, especially not if the price is the same. But while there is a dip in the quality of the experience, often the convenience factor more than enough to make up for it. Luckily it’s not an either or choice, I can have both. Fortunately for my production, both writing here and getting anything else I want done done. So that is a problem that has passed, aside from the fact that I expect my What I Read posts will be slightly longer.

Another reason I stopped posting was that my laptop died. The screen just flat stopped working. Nothing I could do would get it to work again. Which meant I had to get a new one. Not that big of a deal, except I did just spend $200 on a Kindle Fire. No computer means no posts, it’s pretty simple math.

So the distractions and lack of a computer is what shut down my blogging. Honestly, though, I have been meaning to cut back. I’ve been spending too much time writing here on WaFC. If I write fewer posts, I expect I’ll have more time to write better posts. Also, I haven’t seriously written any fiction, something I’ve been doing since I was a freshman in high school, since NaNoWriMo in November. I need to spend more time working on that if I am to meet the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. So I do plan on blogging regularly, but only 2 or 3 posts a week, if that. Right now I’m going to concentrate on finishing my Wheel of Time Reread, which I have 3 books worth waiting to go from scattered notes to long rambley posts, and 2nd Quest. Otherwise I’ve got movie reviews, What I Read and Video Game Archaeology.

What’s the point, then? I don’t know, but somehow this post felt necessary.

Blogging plans for 2012

Yeah, I took a week off with the new year. I have plenty of big things planned for the blog in 2012. My goal for the year is 150 posts, which is actually a few less than last year. I just don’t see myself having the time I had last year to write here. Also, I think aiming for slightly fewer posts will help me make the rest better. We’ll see about that.

I intend to continue my monthly projects, like Video Game Archaeology and What I Read. I would like to bring back the comic book character spotlights, but those are a lot of work and will probably have to wait until the second half of the year. There will still be movie reviews and frequent video game thoughts. Most of the stuff I did last year. I don’t plan to continue doing comic issue reviews. I’ve just never been comfortable reviewing incomplete chunks of stories. I do want to keep writing about comics, but I don’t like the review format.

As far as new things, I have planned a complete reread of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series to coincide with the release of the final book later this year. I also am planning a series of posts as a complement to VGA that will look at popular, important games, starting with a replay of the entire Legend of Zelda series. Another new thing is my planned continued reread of the Johns/Goyer JSA, the first part of which I’ve already posted.

One last change is that I’d like to make my blog a bit more personal. It is my blog, damnit, I want to write about me. I still plan to focus on video games and other supremely unimportant things, the subtitle to this blog is still my mission statement, but possibly a more me-centric way.

A Brief Interruption

I am in the midst of a thoroughly enjoyable (haha, no) family vacation, so I expected to have less time to post than usual this week. But The free WiFi at the hotel only fulfills half of its promise. It is free, but there does actually not seem to be WiFi. So this will be my only post this week.

Next week I’ll have some thoughts on DC’s big re-launch, a review of the last episode of Futurama Season 1, a movie review and a two months worth Last Month in Readings. And maybe more! (but probably not)

Till then, see ya later space cowboy.