Monday, March 09, 2009

MOVIES: #23 Out of Sight

A book, a movie and a TV series. Out of Sight, especially the 1998 movie version, was entertaining in whatever medium Elmer Leonard tried his hand in.

I first read the novel and that spurred me to go see the movie. That, and the chance to see Jennifer Lopez. I assume the women were in it for George Clooney. We all stayed for the plot and were rewarded with a smart version of Leonard's vision.

Director Steve Soderbergh and writer Scott Frank walked a fine line in deciding what to discard from Leonard's novel. It's a rough process that doesn't always work with Leonard's prose. For every Get Shorty or Jackie Brown, there's Maximum Bob and Cat Chaser. Luckily, Out of Sight is on the high end of the curve.

Clooney's Jack Foley is a grifter and a heist artist. He's incarcerated, until he masterminds an escape that temporarily lands him in the trunk of a car, up close and personal, with Lopez's Karen Sisco. Sparks fly between marshal and quarry. They dance around with each other, mostly long distance, for the rest of the movie. Clooney has continued to pick good movie roles and has maintained his MOVIE STAR persona. Lopez, who I discovered in the virtually unseen TV series Malibu Beach, was at her most transcendent in this movie. Her movie stardom has faded as she has concentrated on music and her tabloid series of marriages. But this was Lopez at her best and most pure.

The supporting cast was led by Dennis Farina, who is never less than fabulous, especially if given a little funny to work with. Not that HE's funny. But he's a great straight guy with a great glare. He was the only guy to play through to the TV series, with Carla Gugino in the title role of Karen Sisco. That series died an early death and everybody who DID NOT watch it owes me an apology.

But I digress.

Also in the supporting cast were such heavyweights as Catherine Keener, Don Cheadle, Albert Brooks and Ving Rhames. There was even a pre-foot in mouth Isiaiah Washington. All played the quirky, interesting characters Leonard's great at creating.

It's rare for any concept to work well across three mediums (M*A*S*H might be the only other one). Out of Sight is another. And a real good movie.

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