This week in movies: “Ocean’s 8” and “Hereditary”

Toni Colette, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling… the list goes on.

Photo by Barry Wetcher, © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Photo by Barry Wetcher, © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

by Maddy Folstein

“Ocean’s 8”

Eight of our favorite female celebrities pulling off a heist at the Met Gala? The possibilities are endless. 

But the concept of “Ocean’s 8” might work better than the film itself in practice. 

In “Ocean’s 8,” Sandra Bullock plays Debbie Ocean, the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, who is released from jail after five years. She has spent her time locked away dreaming about the perfect heist — stealing a multi-million dollar Cartier necklace from the neck of actress Daphne Kluger, played by Anne Hathaway. 

Debbie teams up with her motorcycle-riding partner-in-crime Lou (Cate Blanchett). The duo assembles a perfect team of criminals (played by all the actresses you want to see pull off a heist at the Met Gala).

The first part of the movie is disappointingly boring. The drawn-out montage of the assembling of the “Ocean’s 8” team drags on and on. Rihanna, of all people, plays the resident hacker. The hacking scenes are not interesting enough for her.  

When the first Monday in May finally rolls around, however, “Ocean’s 8” becomes the exact movie you want to see on a hot summer afternoon.

The Met Gala heist is fast-paced and thrilling, accented by celebrity cameos in the background. Rihanna’s red Met Gala dress is stunning. Anne Hathaway brings perfect comedic timing (and a perfect red lip). 

Does “Ocean’s 8” reinvent the heist film format for its talented actresses? No. It unfortunately tends to fit them inside that mold, and the distracting subplot about Debbie seeking vengeance on her ex doesn’t help. 

But when “Ocean’s 8” decides to finally have fun, it’s really fun — there’s not much more to it than that. You won’t regret buying your ticket — just maybe go on a discount night or use your MoviePass for this one.  

Grade: C+


Research has already been conducted on how A24’s latest horror movie affects viewers’ heart rates. 

It’s just as scary as Twitter says it is. 

Ari Aster’s debut feature film opens with an obituary printed on a black screen: Ellen, a grandmother. We meet her family, the Grahams — daughter Annie (Toni Colette), Annie’s husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) and their children — stoner son Peter (Alex Wolff of Naked Brothers Band fame) and strange younger sister Charlie (Milly Shapiro).

It’s difficult to say what happens next to the family without spoiling anything. Aster layers unthinkable yet realistic tragedy, grief and trauma on the Grahams.

“Hereditary” is the kind of horror movie that creeps up on you. At certain points it’s easy to settle into the discomfort of family tension … until you’re jerked out of it by Aster’s next horror. 

Aster manipulates the visuals of “Hereditary,” contributing to the slow-burn horror of the viewing experience.

The Graham family lives in an unnamed, picturesque mountain town; there’s no way to tell how close they are to the nearest neighbor. The lighting in even the tamest scene makes the actors look like wax dolls. 

The tortured family is seen but unsalvageable, just far enough from help. 

Unlike Annie’s meticulously constructed dollhouses (based on scenes from her life) and Aster’s visual precision, “Hereditary” lacks some finesse when examined from afar.

Loose, or at least unexplored, ends are abound — writing scratched into walls, Ellen’s destroyed grave, Charlie’s creepy dolls made out of found objects (and bird heads) and unlocked doors. 

Aster’s explanation for the trauma inflicted upon the Graham family — the key to sewing together the disparate moments of “Hereditary” — seems cheap upon first viewing.  It helps to read explanations of the end of “Hereditary” — those unexplored ends are more terrifying in retrospect. The horror here lurks in the periphery (or shadowy room corners at night).

You might not have seen it the first time around. 

Grade: A-