Watching: The Art of the Steal

Two Soderbergh crowd pleasers.

By The Watching Team

Dear Watchers,

This long holiday weekend, there’s a good chance you’ll be hunkered down at home, doing some toned-down version of what you normally do on Thanksgiving. With luck, you’ll still have plenty of turkey (or Tofurky?) and fixings — and when the food coma kicks in, a virtually unlimited number of movies to stream.

That’s a lot of movies. Below, we’re recommending two crowd pleasers among them, the latest in our series of weekly double-feature recommendations.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Your weekly double feature: The art of the steal

From left, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Elliott Gould and Don Cheadle in the 2001 heist caper “Ocean’s Eleven.”Warner Bros.

‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and ‘Logan Lucky’

There wasn’t much to the original 1961 version of “Ocean’s 11,” which isn’t a proper heist picture so much as a jam session for Rat Pack members like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. at the peak of their powers. But for the director Steven Soderbergh and the screenwriter Ted Griffin, a star-filled heist in Las Vegas had the raw materials to pull off two things at once: Bring the genre into the blockbuster age and showcase the glamour and wit of Hollywood’s biggest stars.


Ideal casual viewing through that post-Thanksgiving tryptophan haze, Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven,” which leaves Netflix this month (along with “Twelve” and “Thirteen”), has the style and deftness of a magician’s sleight-of-hand. George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon lead a mix of up-and-comers and seasoned veterans as thieves who stage an audacious robbery of the Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand casinos in Vegas. The absurdity of the scheme is a big part of the fun — a montage of past failures to rob casinos is a comic highlight — but Soderbergh and company make you believe it’s possible.

Soderbergh returned to the genre 17 years later with “Logan Lucky,” and the jobs are remarkably similar — a large amount of cash dumped into a central vault from multiple locations. But the two brothers who mastermind the scheme (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) aren’t professional thieves but working stiffs from West Virginia, using their construction know-how to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway on race day. Soderbergh plays their humility for equal parts comedy and sentiment, but it’s the nuts-and-bolts of the operation that’s most satisfying in the end. — Scott Tobias

Stream “Ocean’s Eleven” on Netflix. Rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

Stream “Logan Lucky” on Amazon Prime Video. Rent it on Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.


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