…and the quest to see everything

Posts tagged “Steven Soderbergh

2012: All Yesterday’s Drafts…Today!


I’m probably breaking some privacy honour code by telling everyone that me and Andrew Kendall have an electronic correspondence. He revealed just as much before. Anyway, in these e-mails he revealed that he has seen movies that he hasn’t bothered to write about or to publish. I intended to write the next few posts to encourage him to start on those posts or press enter on others, but I think that I needed that motivation myself. I’ve actually finished writing these like six weeks ago but I haven’t pressed enter myself, or vowed not to until the number of posts I had on Tumblr has threatened to exceed the ones I had here. Well, that day has fucking come.

After he has sent the e-mail, which was in August, by the way, he already reviewed a few on his list, including Bachelorette and The Five Year Engagement. I haven’t seen both even if I’m pretending to like the former and I’ve downloaded the latter. He’s also seen Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress, Josh Trank’s Chronicle, and Jennifer Westfeld’s Friends with Kids. Chronicleis also a 2012 favourite of another Andrew who is close to my mind, Andrew Parker. Check both people’s reviews out! So anyway,

I missed Damsels in Distress during TIFF and its theatrical release. The dialogue here is infuriating yet familiarly hilarious, especially since it’s coming from Greta Gerwig, who is both sunny and robotic as this myopic overachiever. Her performance as Violet easily comes in as one of the best…forty performances in the past two years. A leader of a suicide prevention group in a college, Gerwig’s character Violet recruits Analeigh Tipton‘s character into the former’s fold. Stillman’s dialogue leads to some good laughs, mostly derived from Violet being unable to grasp regular American colloquialism. One of my favourites again reminding me of Dogville, when Tipton asks Gerwig whether the latter was being arrogant. The sun perfectly hits the two characters as they walk down campus, ironically and intentionally brightening what could be a passive aggressive conversation. One of this year’s great acting moments come from her when she defends her group to that smarmy guy from In the Loop/”The Office” sounding both like an affected fool and a wounded puppy.

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After being awkward in Crazy, Stupid Love, it’s also nice to see Tipton playing a normal girl. She tiptoes the lines of condescension although that doesn’t stop Violet of accusing her of that anyway. Her supposed normalcy eventually disappears as she hangs out with Violet too many times and adopts the latter’s unshaped ideology. Tipton’s character, however, isn’t the only one who changes since both she and Violet meet a ‘playboy’ (Brody) in a college bar that looks nicer than most college bars I’ve been to. The movie’s quirky tone doesn’t hide the fact that it’s probably just about which girl will the playboy hook up with. The movie also stars Audrey Plaza and Heather Burns as Violet’s projects, the latter more enthusiastic and malleable than the other.

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Haywire


Channing Tatum brings the first great quotable of 2012. As privately contracted secret agent Aaron in Haywire, he says “I’m hungover…and you’re really starting to cut on my vacation time so can we go,” being straightforward about the state of mind that he says he’s in.

In short he’s there to propose that his former colleague Mallory Tate (Gina Carano) to surrender herself. That’s a contrast from the flashbacks – she narrates the events to some bloke name Scott (Michael Angarano) – they seemed to get along like a perfect couple. He looks good for someone who might talk with his mouth full, she sounds like a robot trying to hug me after my father died.

They’re assigned on a rescue mission in Barcelona and cross professional boundaries when they finish the job. Days and oceans later, they kick each other’s butts, letting us know that this isn’t a love story. It’s one of professional betrayal, as each man in the field tries to kill her while she uses her training for self-defence.

Steven Soderbergh here employs the same drained digital color schemes as he did in Contagion. I forgive directors who ‘improve’ on themselves but he’s more ubiquitous, inadvertently letting his audience see him as derivative of himself. Two years might make us look at four movies conflated into a phase instead of each one being able to stand up on their own.

The choreography of the fight scenes are also noticeable. Punch, unfurl, weapon, punch, kick, wall, unfurl, repeat, choke hold, death (I actually don’t mind how he films fight scenes, as wide shots and no sound make limbs do all the good work).

Despite of Soderbergh holding on to a list of obsessions, a few end up working. If Contagion felt like the angel of death with a coach ticket, Haywire finds the B-spy action (sub)genre perfect for cinematic globe-trotting. A chase scene in Barcelona is exhilarating partly because we’re going through strange city streets.

The action also brings out the sadist within all of us, the audience with whom I watched the film laughing when Carano injures her sparring partner. Soderbergh as usual finds humour within confrontations between professionals.

Haywire also plays around with the feminine action hero. Unlike others, it lets Carano – a MMA fighter in her movie debut – be a lover, eye candy or the cool-headed avenger. She softens up during  dialogue or when she’s with her father (Bill Paxton) but becomes intimidating when she needs to.

The other male actors including Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor – I love his bunny-like grin as he asks Paul (Fassbender) if ‘the divorce is final’ – and Antonio Banderas, who plays a philanderer, eventually cower under her fists. Just the way we like her. 3.5/5


Crazy, Winslet Links


Well the links lead from me to me. Let me begin with the new character posters for Steven Soderbergh‘s Contagion, which I talked about for Nathaniel R’s The Film Experience. Blythe Danner has seen her daughter’s poster, apparently. The comments went beautifully, as people remembered the Gwyneth and Winona frenemy situation and surprisingly, Matt Damon‘s poster is competing to be the second favourite along with Laurence Fishburne‘s.

Speaking of Kate Winslet movies, she’s playing the role of She-Hulk in Roman Polanski‘s new film Carnage, a movie I won’t shut up about until its release. I didn’t like the poster, but it’s a surprise hit for the commenters at Anomalous Material, where I’ve also been busy writing news and reviews. I think that John C. Reilly has the best colouring here, while I’m not into Jodie Foster and Christoph Waltz‘ orange so much although yes, there are loathsome orange people out there.

I also reviewed Crazy, Stupid Love at YourKloset, a website that I write for when movies and fashion collide, which thankfully happens often enough for me.



Late Thoughts on Contagion’s Trailer


Minutes before watching Crazy, Stupid, Love, I saw the trailer for Contagion, a trailer that, at first viewing, was for your typical Oscar season blockbuster. But I guess seeing it on the big screen made me see stuff more like oh hai, Bryan Cranston, playing Haggerty, a suave man in uniform again beside Dr. Cheever (Laurence Fishburne). Other actors appearing in this film are John Hawkes and Enrico Colantoni, an uncredited Soderbergh alum who’s known here in Canada for being the lead in the cop show “Flashpoint.”

I also really like this shot well, because of the flowers. Seeing the daisies I assumed that it was a child bringing it to someone’s grave, but then it’s obviously someone working on the mass burial grounds. It’s a mix of the personal and professional an adult, possibly jaded because of the recent events, trying to bring an innocent time back. Over-read!

Now, the stars! It sounds sadistic but I’m relieved Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) dies early instead of the disease being the wedge between her and her healthy husband Thomas’ (Matt Damon) marriage. But Dr. Leonora Orantes (Marion Cotillard) will analyze Beth throughout the movie, being the first to fall to the disease. How is there even an HD camera surveying her before her death, anyway? Here’s Jude Law, meh. There’s also Dr. Erin Mears’ (Kate Winslet) voice dominating the trailer, but why is her nose red? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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(Ayala’s Choice ph. secret)

It’s interesting to see Helena Ayala (Catherine Zeta Jones) go from bourgeois California wife to tough negotiator facing drug dealers.The best part about that scene was when Obregon (Benjamin Bratt) tells her they don’t have a deal and she looks defenseless, apologizing for wasting his time. Obergon, seeing her in this state, reconsiders, giving Helena the room for her demands and to make a quip about Obregon’s coke. Watching the tables turned by a woman whose life changed because of a secret is one of the great nuances to this complex film. Although at the risk of sounding like a feminazi or anything, if it was Helena’s husband who found out that she peddled drugs, he would leave her without hesitation.

The roles do get reversed in the same movie in Robert Wakefield’s story (Michael Douglas). Through movie magic, his daughter Caroline (Erika Christensen) swiftly falls from honour student to crack addict, because for some reason rich people drugs aren’t good enough for her. She’s the victim and although this submissive slant is why Robert is helping her, the male is still staying through the female’s troubles. He is her father after all. As his duty, he helps her to one rehab centre after another, even if she runs away. Again, I wonder how Robert deals with a son who gets hooked because of his girlfriend. That would be like the forties, and that sounds interesting enough for a movie for me.

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Aside from the US good, Mexico bad, and the blinding monochromatic cinematography, the film’s portrayal of the unique personal effect of drugs is good enough to revisit. This is like what would happen if Kieslowski and Scorsese collaborated on a movie. I kept whining that this movie needs to air on TV more, and here it is, and I hope I run into it again a few years from now if I can find something new. And I kinda wanna see the miniseries, both of them.

We will also find similar narratives in Soderbergh’s new film “Contagion,” and I wonder how Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow’s relationship gets written. When I found out that Gwyneth Paltrow will play one of the first persons infected with a strange disease, I thought shit, Fishsticks got the meaty role. I wonder what that says about me.