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I love a great heist movie. Done well, they are fun to watch and puzzle out … especially when you find out at the end that you’ve been snookered through clever writing, direction and writing.

Ocean’s Eleven (the George Clooney version, not the Frank Sinatra original) was a perfect example - stylishly visual, full of feints and twists, loaded with terrific character actors, and with an irreverent sense of humor. Ocean’s Twelve, I thought, was silly and a paycheck grab, and while Ocean’s Thirteen was better, it couldn’t live up to the original. We’d already been surprised, and seen how the trick was done, and so some of the mystery was gone.

Ocean’s Eight, which reboots the series with an all-female cast, suffers from the same problem. From the beginning, it seems intent on hitting the same beats as the original; Danny Ocean (Clooney) started the film appearing in front a parole board, so his younger sister, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has to the same. Cate Blanchett plays the same role that Brad Pitt played in the original. And so on.

While the first movie was about a Las Vegas casino heist, Ocean’s Eight is about a jewelry heist at the annual Metropolitan Museum Gala in New York City. And while the new movie moves along at a good pace, keeping lots of balls in the air as the plot unfolds, it just doesn’t match the original in terms of visual style and an effortlessly cool vibe. (Go figure. Director Gary Ross is no Steven Soderbergh.)

I don’t want to suggest that Ocean’s Eight is no fun at all. It’s okay … at least it isn’t a superhero movie, it is reasonably intelligent, and it is nice to see Bullock, Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Awkwafina, and Helena Bonham Carter in a movie where they don’t have to play second fiddle to a man. It’d better, of course, if they had fully written roles, but…

Ocean’s Eight does have a sparklingly funny performance by Anne Hathaway as a narcissistic actress of unsuspected depth … she takes over the movie every time she’s onscreen. (For the life of me, I cannot understand why there are so many Anne Hathaway haters out there - she makes most of the movies she’s in better, from The Princess Diaries to The Devil Wears Prada, to The Dark Knight Rises.)

I know this. There always have been rumors of sequels to the Pierce Brosnan/Rene Russo version of The Thomas Crown Affair and the Mark Wahlberg/Charlize Theron version of The Italian Job - two remakes of very good movies that ended up being different enough and clever enough to stand on their own. Watching Ocean’s Eight makes me glad they haven’t … because while it is an entertaining movie, it isn’t original or differentiated.

I’ll be heading out to Oregon in about a week, for my annual summer adjunctivity at Portland State University, and so it is appropriate to recommend a couple of excellent Oregon Pinot Noirs that I’ve tried in the last week. (I’m in training.) They are both highly drinkable - the 2014 from King Estate, and the 2015 from Emerson Vineyards. Yum.

I’m getting ready.

That’s it for this week.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

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