Roger Ebert has returned from a lengthy hiatus as the Chicago Sun-Times film critic. The first paragraph from his sour review of “Oceans Thirteen”:
The genius of the past decays remorselessly into the routine of the present, and one example is the downfall of the caper picture. The classic caper genre had rules set in stone. It began (1) with an impregnable fortress (vault, casino, museum, or even Fort Knox). Then we met (2) a group of men who hoped to impregnate it. There was (3) a setup about the defenses of the fortress, and (4) a chalk talk in which the mastermind told the others what they were going to do and how they were going to do it. This had the advantage of also briefing the audience, so that the actual caper could proceed in suspenseful silence while we understood what they were doing and why.
Yes. Caper movies used to be much better. The last good one was David Mamet’s “Heist.”
I won’t be seeing “Ocean’s Thirteen,” but Ebert’s review made me put “Bob le Flambeur” in my cue.