‘Ocean’s 8’: A delightfully smart crime caper

The film is driven by an all-female cast. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 04 July 2018

‘Ocean’s 8’: A delightfully smart crime caper

CHENNAI: Over the years, dozens of heist stories have played out on the silver screen, but director Gary Ross’ female-driven crime caper is a delightfully smart breath of fresh air.

“Ocean’s 8” stars Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, who lead a team of razor-sharp women on an ambitious mission to steal a $150 million Cartier diamond necklace.
A spinoff of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy, Ross’ film is no less ambitious, although a focus on the planning part of the robbery leaves the movie unevenly balanced, with the run-up to the robbery eating up much of the 110-minute run time.
Bullock plays the character of Debbie Ocean, who spends five years in prison seething with anger and planning revenge after her art dealer boyfriend, Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), saves himself by trapping her in the midst of a crime. Out on parole, she seeks her former comrade-in-crime, Lou (Blanchett), and gets together an all-women team to pull off a dazzling heist.

Bullock plays the character with astounding confidence — look at the way she walks out of jail and into a high-class store, shoplifts and enters a posh hotel room, it is thrilling. With the same devil-may-care attitude, she forms a gang with Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), a disgraced fashionista, Amita (Mindy Kaling), a jewelry maker, Constance (Awkwafina), a hustler-pickpocket, Nine Ball (Rihanna), an ace hacker and Tamy (Sarah Paulson), a suburban mother and profiteer. Anne Hathaway plays the dim-witted model who becomes a passive accessory to the crime.

The narrative flows along with remarkable editing, a haunting score and some fantastic top shots. The scripting is smooth, despite moments of disbelief. A subtle yet strong performance by Blanchett and Bonham Carter’s charming awkwardness add to the fun in what has turned out to be a deliciously delightful film that proves an all-female cast can score Box Office gold.

The film earned another $8.03 million in its fourth weekend in the US, Forbes reported on Monday, making for a $114.7 million 24-day total.

Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

Updated 15 October 2018

Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

  • Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year before he died
  • “He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said

LONDON: Stephen Hawking’s final work, which tackles issues from the existence of God to the potential for time travel, was launched on Monday by his children, who helped complete the book after the British astrophysics giant’s death.
Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year — but did not finish it before he died in March, aged 76.
It has been completed by the theoretical physicist’s family and academic colleagues, with material drawn from his vast personal archive.
“He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said at the Science Museum in London.
The book was an attempt to “bring together the most definitive, clearest, most authentic answers that he gave.
“We all just wish he has here to see it.”
Hawking, who was wheelchair bound due to motor neurone disease, dedicated his life’s work to unraveling the mysteries of the universe.
The cosmologist was propelled to stardom by his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” an unlikely worldwide bestseller.
It won over fans from far beyond the rarefied world of astrophysics and prompted people into asking the mastermind his thoughts on broader topics, answered in his final work.

The 10 questions Hawking tackles are:
-- Is there a God?
-- How did it all begin?
-- What is inside a black hole?
-- Can we predict the future?
-- Is time travel possible?
-- Will we survive on Earth?
-- Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
-- Should we colonize space?
-- Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
-- How do we shape the future?

In his book, Hawking says humans have no option but to leave Earth, risking being “annihilated” if they do not.
He says computers will overtake humans in intelligence during the next 100 years, but “we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours.”
Hawking says the human race had to improve its mental and physical qualities, but a genetically-modified race of superhumans, say with greater memory and disease resistance, would imperil the others.
He says that by the time people realize what is happening with climate change, it may be too late.
Hawking says the simplest explanation is that God does not exist and there is no reliable evidence for an afterlife, though people could live on through their influence and genes.
He says that in the next 50 years, we will come to understand how life began and possibly discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.
“He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges are global, we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking,” Lucy Hawking said.
“It’s a call to unity, to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us.”
In his final academic paper, Hawking shed new light on black holes and the information paradox, with new work calculating the entropy of black holes.
Turned into an animation narrated by Hawking’s artificial voice, it was shown at the book launch.
“It was very emotional. I turned away because I had tears forming,” Lucy Hawking told AFP on hearing her father’s voice again.
“It feels sometimes like he’s still here because we talk about him and hear his voice — and then we have the reminder that he’s left us.”