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Notes from the back row

Home for the holidays

Ahhhh. It’s nice to be home after three weeks in Central America. Three weeks in countries with international warnings that, "Crimes against foreigners have included murder, rape, and armed robbery, increasingly in conjunction with highway banditry." I felt safe and happy the entire time however, and didn’t have a single problem until I got back to Whistler and some a**holes threw a chunk of ice through my windshield as I drove past Whistler Highlands/Vale area last Saturday night. Thanks, I didn’t really need that 200 bucks anyhow. I hope you blow your knees early in the season. And have to sit in front of a bunch of whiny kids next time you go to the theatre.

I was happier in San José, Costa Rica, a crime-ridden city, sure; but where they’ve at least got things figured out as far as movie theatres go. You roll into this place called Cinépolis, a "VIP" theatre. You pay your eight bucks and choose your seats, which are pairs of reclining leather lazyboys with footrests and cupholders in the arms. As you recline and giggle at all the legroom you have, a smartly dressed waiter named Julio arrives. I ordered an Iced Tea and some peanut M&Ms, a warm ham/salami sandwich, a California roll and a double Jack Daniels on the rocks. All of which arrived just as the opening credits began to roll. At that point you simply tell Julio to keep the bill open and the drinks coming and off you go.

I have to admit that while he does his best to stay hunkered down, Julio occasionally blocks your sightlines whilst periodically delivering your drinks or your strawberry whipped cream crépes. It’s a small price to pay though, especially if you’re watching Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and he doesn’t come during the Angelina Jolie parts. The point is, Cinépolis is exactly what I’m talking about, and Julio pours a decent Jack too.

Something else that’s exactly what I’m talking about is the new Steven Soderbergh sequel, Ocean’s 12. It’s another heist movie riddled with huge stars and witty banter, much like Soderbergh’s Ocean’s 11 (a 2001 remake of an old rat pack film). Now it’s three years after the initial Vegas heist and someone’s tipped Andy Garcia off about who ganked his $160 million. He wants it back with interest so Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his crew travel to Europe, where they’re lesser-known, to steal the funds.

Take the all-star cast of the first film, throw in a charismatic French thief who ratted Ocean out in order to propose a thieving contest, as well as a sassy, beautiful Eurocop and you’ve got a playful romp of self-reflexive, highly-stylized, comedic entertainment that definitely won’t change your life but makes for a nice 105 minutes of escapism during this hectic, crowded, annoying holiday season. This film is really just a paid European Vacation for one of Hollywood’s best directors and a bakers dozen of its A-list actors. But the film’s charm element is very high (Clooney and Brad Pitt provide ample evidence that good actors and good con artists are really the same thing).

Ocean’s 12

has a few minor plot holes and cop outs, tough to avoid with such a huge cast, but I think it makes up for it in Cool. And up against a slew of crappy Christmas movies, Cool goes a long, long way. Lively, fun, and a nice escape for this time of year, Ocean’s 12 opens Friday at the Village 8, where there is no Julio and you have to bring your own double jacks.

At Village 8 Dec. 10-16: Ocean’s 12; Blade Trinity; Finding Neverland; The Incredibles; National Treasure; Christmas with the Kranks; Bridget Jones 2; Alexander; Polar Express.

At Rainbow Theatre Dec. 10-16: Shark Tale.