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06/07/2018    

06/07

Out of Sight

Out of Sight is a 1998 American crime comedy film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Scott Frank, adapted from Elmore Leonard's novel of the same name. The first of several collaborations between Soderbergh and actor George Clooney, it was released on June 26, 1998.

The film stars Clooney and Jennifer Lopez and co-stars Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, Nancy Allen, Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener, and Albert Brooks. There are also special appearances by Michael Keaton, briefly reprising his role as Ray Nicolette in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown the previous year, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The film received Academy Award nominations for Adapted Screenplay and Editing and won the Edgar Award for best screenplay and the National Society of Film Critics awards for best film, screenplay, and director. The film led to a spinoff TV series in 2003, Karen Sisco.

Plot

A career bank robber, Jack Foley, and a U.S. Marshal, Karen Sisco, are forced to share a car trunk during Foley's escape from a Florida prison. After he completes his getaway, Foley is chased by Sisco while he and his friends--right-hand man Buddy and unreliable associate Glenn--work their way north to Bloomfield Hills, a wealthy northern suburb of Detroit. There they plan to pay a visit to shady businessman Ripley, who foolishly bragged to them in prison years before about a cache of uncut diamonds hidden in his home.

A vicious criminal named Maurice Miller, who also spent time in jail with Jack and Ripley, is planning on hitting up Ripley's mansion with his own crew, including Kenneth and White Boy Bob. A romantic interlude between Foley and Sisco takes place in a Detroit hotel, but the question of whether she is really pursuing Foley to arrest him or for love ends in a showdown during the robbery at Ripley's home and adds to "the fun" Foley claims they are having.

Development

The source novel's origins lie in a picture Leonard saw in the Detroit News of a beautiful young female federal marshal standing in front of a Miami courthouse with a shotgun resting on her hip. Producer Danny DeVito bought the rights to the book after his success with the 1995 film adaptation of Leonard's novel Get Shorty. Steven Soderbergh had made two films for Universal Pictures when executive Casey Silver offered him Out of Sight with George Clooney attached. However, the filmmaker was close to making another project and hesitated to commit. Silver told him, "These things aren't going to line up very often, you should pay attention".

Casting

Sandra Bullock was originally considered to play Karen Sisco opposite Clooney. According to Soderbergh, "What happened was I spent some time with [Clooney and Bullock] and they actually did have a great chemistry. But it was for the wrong movie. They really should do a movie together, but it was not Elmore Leonard energy."

Danny DeVito and Garry Shandling were considered for the part of Ripley before Albert Brooks was cast. The character of Foley appealed to Clooney, who as a boy had considered as heroes the bank robbers in movies, citing "the Cagneys and the Bogarts, Steve McQueen and all those guys, the guys who were kind of bad and you still rooted for them. And when I read this, I thought, 'This guy is robbing a bank but you really want him to get away with it.'"

Soderbergh cites Nicolas Roeg's 1973 film Don't Look Now as the primary influence on how he approached the love scene between Foley and Sisco: "What I wanted to create in our movie was the intimacy of that, the juxtaposition of these two contrasting things ... We had to mix it up and have you feel like you were more in their heads."

The character Ray Nicolette also appears in Leonard's novel Rum Punch, which was being filmed as Jackie Brown when Universal Pictures was preparing to begin production on Out of Sight. After Michael Keaton was cast as the detective Nicolette in Jackie Brown, Universal subsequently cast him for a cameo in the same role in Out of Sight. While Miramax Films owned the rights to the character, due to the fact that Jackie Brown went into production first, director Quentin Tarantino felt it was imperative that Miramax not charge Universal for using the character, allowing the character's appearance without Miramax receiving financial compensation. Nicolette appears in only one brief scene, whereas the character was a much more substantial element of Jackie Brown.

Critical reception

Out of Sight received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 93% approval rating, based on 88 reviews, with an average rating of 7.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Steven Soderbergh's intelligently crafted adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel is witty, sexy, surprisingly entertaining, and a star-making turn for George Clooney." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 85 out of 100, based on 30 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim."

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half out of four stars and praised Clooney's performance, stating: "Clooney has never been better. A lot of actors who are handsome when young need to put on some miles before the full flavor emerges ... Here Clooney at last looks like a big screen star; the good-looking leading man from television is over with". Janet Maslin of The New York Times praised Lopez's performance, writing, "Ms. Lopez has her best movie role thus far, and she brings it both seductiveness and grit; if it was hard to imagine a hard-working, pistol-packing bombshell on the page, it couldn't be easier here". Andrew Sarris, in his review for The New York Observer, wrote, "For once in a mainstream production, the narrative machinery works on all cylinders without any wasted motion or fatuous rhetoric. They don't make movies like this anymore, in this overcalculated and overtested era". In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan wrote, "As always with the best of Leonard, it's the journey, not the destination, that counts, and director Soderbergh has let it unfold with dry wit and great skill. Making adroit use of complex flashbacks, freeze frames and other stylistic flourishes, he's managed to put his personal stamp on the film while staying faithful to the irreplaceable spirit of the original".

Entertainment Weekly gave the film a "B+" rating and Owen Gleiberman wrote, "This is Clooney's wiliest, most complex star turn yet. It helps that he's lost the Beverly Hills Caesar cut (he's actually more handsome with his hair swept back), and his performance is slyly two-tiered: Foley is all charming moxie on the surface, a bit clueless underneath". Richard Schickel, in his review for Time, wrote, "What makes this movie work is the kind of cool that made Get Shorty go so nicely: an understanding that life's little adventures rarely come in neat three-act packages, the way most movies now do, and the unruffled presentation of outrageously twisted dialogue, characters and situations as if they were the most natural things in the world". In her review for the L.A. Weekly, Manohla Dargis wrote, "This isn't a profound film, or even an important one, but then it isn't trying to be; it's so diverting and so full of small, satisfying pleasures, you don't realize how good it is until after it's over".

Accolades

The National Society of Film Critics voted Out of Sight the Best Film of 1998 as well as Soderbergh Best Director and Frank for Best Screenplay. Entertainment Weekly voted it as the sexiest film ever on their "50 Sexiest Movies Ever" poll and ranked it #9 on their Top 25 Modern Romances list.

In 2012, the Motion Picture Editors Guild listed Out of Sight as the 52nd best-edited film of all time based on a survey of its membership.

In later years, Soderbergh would see the film as "a very conscious decision on my part to try and climb my way out of the arthouse ghetto which can be as much of a trap as making blockbuster films". He had just turned down directing Human Nature, written by Charlie Kaufman, to direct Out of Sight. "And I was very aware that at that point in my career, half the business was off limits to me". Clooney said, " Out of Sight was the first time where I had a say, and it was the first good screenplay that I'd read where I just went, 'That's it.' And even though it didn't do really well box office-wise - we sort of tanked again - it was a really good film".

American Film Institute Lists

  • AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills - Nominated
  • AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Gangster Film

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