A QUASI-HOMAGE to the 1960 Rat Pack vehicle, Ocean's Eleven replaces the original's ring-a-ding glitz with cool po-mo glam, movie star mega-wattage (did Julia really appear for a measly sawbuck, as legend holds?), and a crackling screenplay, fusing Rififi's anatomy of a heist with Mission: Impossible's razzle-dazzle. The resulting eyeball confection is then refracted through a 3-inch-thick lens of highly buffed irony.
Released May 7, the disc boasts flawless audio and wide-screen transfer along with the usual filler (trailers, quickie behind-the-scenes short, cast credits, etc.). Notable is The Look of the Con, a brief yet edifying study of the (often ignored) importance that costume design can play on a movie's narrative and look. The real value on any DVD—better viewing through added context—is here doubled with twin commentary tracks. The first, a fun gabfest with Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, and Matt Damon, tends toward explicating Eleven from a performance angle; goofy anecdotes, in-jokes, and "Remember when we improv'ed that scene?"-type banter prevail here.
The second track, however, really delivers the goods as director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Ted Griffin reveal all sorts of story nuances, production particulars, and soundstage secrets. Minutiae like the challenge of effective lighting, Elliott Gould's thespian acumen, or the can't-miss laugh value of a real truck crushing a toy one are all amply discussed. The chance to sit at Soderbergh's feet for a smart, intimate primer on quality moviemaking only heightens the buzz of Eleven's sugar rush.
RUSHING TO DISC May 14 are a slew of bad titles, including Snow Dogs with Cuba Gooding Jr., Corky Romano with that annoying Chris Kattan from SNL, and From Hell with Johnny Depp (which the Hughes brothers have packed with 20 deleted scenes on two discs). Fox is bringing several lesser Marilyn Monroe pictures to DVD (Niagra and Don't Bother to Knock among them), while Disney debuts its 1988 Oliver & Company on disc for kids. The best things out are a two-disc set of Alejandro Amenᢡr's The Others (May 14) and Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz (May 7), the latter reviewed here next week.