Magic Mike: loosely based on Channing Tatum’s early career (supposedly), it depicts the lives of several male strippers; some of whom want to party all the time, but others want more than the superficial lifestyle. Not really sure what the film was trying to convey… life is tough when you’re a stripper? Yeah, it must totally suck to be a handsome, young, guy that women will do anything to bone – SYMPATHY FAIL! McConaughey is on top crazy form – doing that deranged southern thang that only he can do this well. Is Magic Mike essentially Striptease / Showgirls for women? Pretty much, but the main differentiator is that Soderberg is behind the camera, so it’s done with an indie sensibility; and has been coloured/filtered to oblivion. When it comes to the crunch, it doesn’t feel like there’s much of a film in here at all, just an excuse for the ladies (and some guys) to see CT, MMc, Kevin Nash and a few other guys all oily and six-packy.
Note: there are a couple of ladies in here… somewhere.
Side by Side: documentary explaining the different ways in which digital and film reel images make their way from the director’s lens and on to cinema screens. It’s a film made specifically for film nerds, about the technical aspects of the end-to-end process of film-making – yet it’s all very high-level, with simplistic explanations that only really cover the basics – parts remind you of school educational videos. Still, it’s a great excuse to sit down with the cream of Hollywood directors, editors, DPs & various industry names, and hear their professional opinions on it: cast list below. It’s also packed with some of the greatest shots from over 100 years of Cinema – starting with ‘Man with a Movie Camera’ through to Avatar. As an interviewer, Keanu is quite good (although we only ever see short sections) but he gets surprisingly blunt and animated with big Hollywood figures: he also pulls off every look imaginable from genuine tramp, through to rockstar and everything in between. The most interesting part was seeing how the digital switch moves the emphasis away from the DP (director of photography) and towards editors and colour timers. Side by Side is a good look at the Analogue Vs Digital debate; however, it’s a fight that’s been raging on for well over 15 years now, and one that digital has all but won – as the new shooting and projecting standards. Because of this, it doesn’t really shed much more light on the subject. Lucas and Cameron championing digital Vs Nolan and Pfister who are unsympathetically anti-digital – anyone interested in cinema will already know this. Still, it’s worth watching, if only to see your favourite directors with the gloves off, hammering into the format they don’t like.
Robert Rodriguez and Salma Hayek discussing Once Upon a Time…
Interviews include: Keanu Reeves, George Lucas, Steven Soderbergh, James Cameron, David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Martin Scorsese, Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Christopher Nolan, Walter Pfister, David Fincher, Lars von Trier, John Malkovich, Danny Boyle, Joel Schumacher, FULL CAST HERE
Haywire: when an ex-marine – now hitwoman – is framed for murder she has to set the record straight, by going straight to the top of the conspiracy. So it’s not the most original story, but the execution and tone make it stand out from the genre. It’s a stripped down travelogue spy thriller – somewhere between a Bourne film and The American – with a throwback feel, like those old-fashioned spy movies you watched with your grandparents. The action is gripping, particularly the Dublin chases and all hand-to-hand combat fighting. The lead actress (an MMA fighter by trade) works surprisingly well, even though she’s been surrounded by decent actors – as sensible backup – she doesn’t stick out much. There’s an interesting soundtrack with the odd scene having retro spy music, but mostly authentic audio that works very well during fights (grunting / punches / breathing), chases (footsteps / cars / traffic lights)… this pushes the dramatic envelope beyond what you normally get. Not unlike Contagion, Soderbergh has firmly rooted everything reality – I also see this as an important breakthrough role for Carano, who I envisage carving out a Statham/Dwane action niche. Continuously credible, and intense for the most part, Haywire is as good as it can be with the knowingly limiting story, and is as honest and believable a spy thriller as you’ll ever see.