What to Rent: Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight" (1998)
The Crapfest That Is "Ocean's 11," 12, 13
I remember a film critic, I think it was, speaking to how much director Steven Soderbergh's (no relation to that other Steven) "Ocean's" movies were a joke to the players involved. This not to say that the actors and a director of this calibre were just mucking about. There's much too much money involved. And while Brad Pitt, George Clooney and the entourage of lawyers and Ari Gold style agents behind them obviously understand how much big budget success is critical to keeping their movie stars bright, you just know the whole time they were filming that Clooney was itching to do more challenging, more political movies, that Brad Pitt already knew he was simply better suited to playing quirky characters with extreme personalities and that Soderbergh was looking down his nose at the entire project waiting to do the 'smarter' movies he made in between "Ocean" outings.
The problem for me is, I don't like much of Soderbergh's 'smarter' fare either (with the notable exception of "Traffic"). "Solaris," anyone? God help us. I'd rather watch the real thing (ie. "2001") or else watch paint dry. I should admit I've not seen "The Informant" or "Che." Nor am I convinced I want to.
"Out of Sight" though. Damn. Granted, you've gotta go back more than 10 years to see Soderbergh using his definite talents to not poo-poo but instead raise up a fun and funny pulpy story to make it stylish and sexy and fucking fantastic. If you haven't seen it, there is much to love, including great jail scenes, fun heist moments and just amazing repartee between so many of the characters thanks to the movie being based on an Elmore Leonard novel ("Get Shorty," "Jackie Brown"). This is a hell of a quotable movie.
George Clooney plays Jack Foley. He is a small-time bank robber. He's smart, slick, suave but not actually that good at his job. Jennifer Lopez plays Karen Sisco. She's an FBI agent. Very good at her job. They first meet in the trunk of a car. He's broken out of jail, taken her hostage. (Run with it.) She spends much of the rest of the movie chasing him. The scene, that to my mind, makes the movie - the reason for this post - is when they finally meet again. But more on that in a moment.
First - quickly - The Second Bananas
It's fun to return to a movie and realize how well it was cast, how many of the side characters are now names you know or faces you recognize.
"Out of Sight" features:
-Don Cheadle ("Traffic," the "Ocean's" movies, celebrity poker television);
-Catherine Keener ("Being John Malkovich," "Where The Wild Things Are");
-Dennis Farina ("Get Shorty"), a legend; and
-Steve Zahn* [see comments] ("Reality Bites"), the most scene-stealing performer of the bunch.
But none of it would be nearly so memorable, nor would I keep revisiting "Out of Sight" if not for One Great Scene.
Karen Sisco: You kept touching me, feeling my thigh.
Jack Foley: But in a nice way.
Foley has now left L.A for Detroit. It has to do with stealing diamonds. Karen Sisco has followed him there. She is in a Detroit hotel at night, the snow falling in the background.
A zippo. Her hand on a glass of bourbon. His hand wrapping round hers. The dialogue, fast, fun, sharp, playful, honest, dangerous. Them watching each other get undressed. You'll see. I'm gonna show you the clip so you can get a feel for the great stamp of style Soderbergh's put on this whole fine flick (give it a few). To set it up:
The people who put things on youtube have kindly posted the scene but unfortunately (callously) not included the first 3 minutes. So please, before you watch, if you've never seen it before, for context,
know that Karen (J.Lo) is sitting alone at a table at this hotel bar. Three men, ad guys are up at the bar. The first, Phillip, comes up, hits on Karen. She says she doesn't want to be rude, "Phillip" but manages to stave him off. As he walks back to the bar, his bespectacled, pale-faced friend, Andy, is already coming towards Karen's table, giving Phillip a little finger tap as he passes his rejected friend by. Andy, even more over-confident than his buddy doesn't even wait to be invited. He sits at Karen's table, tells her he knows why she's depressed. He tells her she's a sales rep having a hard time because she's a girl. Andy goes on about himself, that they're "ad guys, from the Apple" and he tells her about some "Bandito, Mexi-Hispanic" ad campaign they're working on (the great ironic pleasure of watching whitey tell of his blatantly stereotype-foolish Latino ad campaign to this Latino woman) and finally Karen cuts in. She says, "Really, Andy, who gives a shit?"
Stunned he responds saying something to express his incredulity.
"Beat it, Andy" is what Lopez's character says. Finally she is again alone, as she wanted, unless of course George Clooney as Jack Foley were to walk in the bar. Which he does: