Showing posts with label Steven Soderbergh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steven Soderbergh. Show all posts

Monday, 8 April 2013

Magic Mike

When I saw trailers for Magic Mike in early 2012 I thought it looked like the film I was least likely to see, ever. Despite excelling in 21 Jump Street, Channing Tatum was still one of my least favourite actors and I was yet to see Matthew McConaughey’s fantastic turn in Killer Joe so he was still just Mahogany McConaughey to me. Added to that inauspicious line up was Alex Pettyfer who I had only ever seen in Beastly which happens to be one of my least favourite films of all time. So the cast was awful, what about the plot? Male Strippers. Next. So all of that plus fucking Rihanna warbling over the the trailer made Magic Mike a film I felt I had to avoid. But then I started reading snippets of reviews and comments from people who weren’t the typical wet lipped Tatum fans and wondered if it was actually worth checking out.

‘Magic’ Mike Lane (Tatum) has dreams of designing and selling custom made furniture but for now earns a living in a number of ways which include roofing and more lucratively, stripping. On a roofing job he meets Adam (Pettyfer) who Mike introduces to the world of male stripping. Adam, known as ‘the kid’ quickly picks up the trade and brings in much needed money which soon goes to his head. Meanwhile Mike enters into a flirtatious friendship with Adam’s straight laced sister Brooke (Cody Horn) while club owner Dallas (McConaughey) dreams of ruling over an empire of strip clubs and all the women and money that comes with it.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Side Effects

I was in America recently and thought it would be a good opportunity to see a movie which won’t be out here in the UK for a while. Unfortunately I was there at a rare time during which there was little in US theatres which wouldn’t be in the UK by the time I got home. So instead I saw Side Effects, a film I hadn’t had a chance to see in England. Side Effects is said to be the final movie by Director Steven Soderbergh, the man behind films such as Erin Brokovich, Solaris and Contagion. Although not a huge fan of his entire back catalogue I think losing Soderbergh to film making would be a shame. He has produced some very fine films over the years with Side Effects being one of them.

We join the story days before Martin Taylor (Channing Tatum) is released from a four year prison sentence for insider trading. His wife Emily (Rooney Mara) is eagerly but nervously awaiting his release. In the days following his return, her mood shifts towards anxiety and depression and when she drives her car straight into a wall she begins to see Psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law). Banks tries various methods and drugs before discovering the new drug Ablixa seems to control Emily’s moods. The drug gives her the side effect of sleep walking though, a side effect which turns out to have disastrous consequences for Martin, Emily and Dr Banks. The event destroys Banks’ career and while trying to clear his name he discovers a deeper, seedier plot.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


A married woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) stops off in Chicago on her way back from a business trip in Hong Kong to engage in extra marital activities with an old boyfriend. When back home in Minneapolis she feels ill and believes she has contracted a cold while away. It turns out to be something much more serious though when she suffers a fit and is rushed to hospital. Unable to save her, doctors inform her husband (Matt Damon) that she has passed away and medical examiners begin tests to figure out what the deadly virus is. Meanwhile people all over the world are contracting the virus and it soon becomes clear that there is an epidemic on a global scale. WHO epidemiologist (Marion Cotillard) travels to Hong Kong to try to find the source of the infection and Disease Control boss (Laurence Fishburne) sends field agent (Kate Winslet) to Minneapolis to get a grip on events there. In a final strand to the story, blogger (Jude Law) is informing millions of his readers about Government cover-ups and conspiracies but has an agenda of his own.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Che Part One

The first of a two part biopic of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara stars Benicio del Toro as Che. The film flicks back and forward between late 1950s Cuba and various interviews and appearances by Che in 1960s New York but the main focus of the film is the revolution itself and the part that Guevara played in it.

Although I identify myself as very left wing and have seen the fantastic The Motorcycle Diaries based on Guevara’s trip around South America I knew very little about the man or the revolution before watching this film. I was aware that it took place and that Guevara was involved as a General of sorts but that was just about the extent of my knowledge. The film does reasonably good job of explaining the reasons behind the revolution, who is fighting and why. Guevara’s political beliefs are also laid out early on and we learn more about him and his ideology through various acts and speeches.

The story is fascinating and picks up pace as the revolution sweeps across the country, beginning in the mountains and ending up in large guerrilla style street battles against government forces. I am torn as to whether I think I learned enough about Guevara as a man. On the one hand, his political ideology was a constant theme but there was very little of Ernesto. This is very much Che, as the title would suggest. A character who takes a back seat is Fidel Castro. I’d liked to have seen more of him and learned more but obviously this is a Che biopic, not a Castro film. I think someone of limited knowledge of the issues, history and people the film studies may struggle to enjoy is as much as someone who is more aware of its context. Unlike Scorsese’s biographical films which you are able to go into having never heard of their subjects, this is a film which rewards those with an understanding and perhaps leaves those without previous understanding slightly perplexed. I’d class myself as being somewhere near the middle of that spectrum and as such I enjoyed the film very much but was left wanting to know more on occasion, both about Guevara and Cuba.

Benicio del Toro’s performance as Che is incredible. He embodies him both in image and in his interpretation of the man. He looks an awful lot like Guevara throughout the film. Another double was Demian Bichir who when viewed in profile was the spitting image of the ex Cuban leader Castro. The acting throughout was excellent but due to my lack of knowledge of those involved, I am unable to say whether they were true to the people they were portraying.     

Che Part One is an interesting look at one of the most recognizable and influential people of the 20th Century. The film is very much biased towards Guevara’s point of view and as such I don’t think it is a particularly balanced film, although I would identify my ideology as closer to his than my current government so don’t mind the lack of balance. I was interested throughout but was left wanting to know more about him and the country he was fighting for. On the plus side, del Toro is excellent and the film has a great look to it.