I finally broke down and got a subwoofer for the surround-sound system. Damn, what a difference: it ties the whole thing together like the final adjustment of the microscope that brings everything into focus. You don't realize how much sound you feel rather than hear: there's a lot of rumbling going on in the world and without it, sound is very flat and thin.
With rumble in place, we watched Steven Soderbergh's remake of Ocean's Eleven on one of the HBOs, and in addition to ambient environmental sounds coming to life, the swanky, largely electronic neo-lounge original soundtrack by David Holmes had a lot of good growly bass giving the house a good shake.
I love good caper flicks (Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn in Dollars comes immediately to mind, and of course A Fish Called Wanda, although the poetic revenge factor is reminiscent of The Sting), and this one unveils in real time as a coterie of convivial cons, each with their own area of expertise, perform admirably, though not without tension, through a high tech heist of $160 million from an impenetrable Vegas casino.
The heist is entertaining in its own right, but what pushes the film over the top is the extraordinary star power of the cast, which must have cost a bundle and a half. George Clooney and Brad Pitt co-star as leaders of the caper: Clooney, who seeks revenge against the casino-owner Andy Garcia for "stealing" his wife (Julia Roberts, who else?) away while he was in prison, is slick and charming; Pitt is about halfway between his looney self (12 Monkeys, Fight Club) and his serious, together self (A River Runs Through It). They are good together, as is the rest of the cast: Matt Damon (toward the dwid end of his acting spectrum) Elliott Gould, Carl Reiner, Bernie Mac, and the amazing little contortionist dude, Shaobo Qin, stand out in particular.
I love it when the good bad guys win, and they do it in high style here.