Ocean's Eight

Everyone’s great in this, but I’m not really interested in that as much as the shape of this film. Soderbergh has always shown great interest in stretching the perception of what cinema is, and Ross seems to pick up where Logan Lucky and Unsane left off. Particularly the lack of visual flair struck me as odd. This is a movie about glamour and glitz, yet every visual aspect seems to be working against it. Almost as if Ross intends to deglamourize the subject. Drab colour grading and a lackluster image quality serve up what is best described as uncinematic filmmaking. And yet, the compositions, the surprising amount of functional long takes (that don’t draw attention to themselves), they do show that Ross is a capable director. Someone who’s maybe leaving the expectations of A Good Quality In 2018 box unchecked in order to achieve something different. Somethimg which is more about image flow and capturing moments that the players create. Like Logan Lucky before it, which had a similar down-to-earth flow where nothing gets cued or underscored. A certain kind of effortlesness. Shit happens and we’re there along for the ride. But what made sense for a Nascar-set caper movie, does not bear much logic for the Met-gala. This is not finding the right voice for the material. This is, once again, deglamourizing the subject. It’s a statement.

As a filmmaker who struggles a lot with high standard of visual quality nowadays, this film was refreshing. Everyone always hammers on about how it’s great that we have these amazing tools at our disposal, but there’s this weird competition among filmmakers that a cinematic image is this single thing. It’s sharp and rich, and mostly a shadow of what we remember celluloid looks like. That beauty is conforming to the rules of what a bunch of film-illIterate YouTube gear-heads say it is. The same people who always say that it’s about the story, but don’t know how to tell one, so instead just keep buying the newer shit to achieve the highest fidelity. A measuring of dicks masked with hollow motivational crap. And meanwhile I’m sweating because I shot a documentary and it does not conform to the 4k standard richness, not because of my ineptitude, but because I don’t care, and yet I’m told I should.

There’s this one moment in The French Connection where for a second this underexposed image from inside a car got a boost in post. The amount of grain and contrast is unbelievable. It looks like a mistake some intern made. And yet the shot makes sense in the montage, and should be there to communicate what has to be communicated. Fuck fidelity, it shouts. And I agree.

The fact that this film about women doing things that film-women are generally deprived of shrugs at the idea of fidelity (or filmbro convention) is profound. Jokes don’t land because Ross doesn’t adhere to the underscoring we’re so used to. By not highlighting such elements we as an audience get to decide which stuff we like and which we don’t. And isn’t that the coolest? That we’re taken on this journey with these cool peeps doing cool shit, while we’re not being treated like babies? And how that doesn’t immediately result in HEAVY HANEKE ARTHOUSE, but can also be a nice caper film in which there’s not a lot of conflict? And that it is allowed to look like crap, because truly who cares, it’s Rihanna in a red dress!

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