Side Effects

Side Effects. I made this a Soderbergh-takes-on-controlled-substances double-feature with Traffic. Hitchcockian psycho-thriller here. It gets too clever in the final act, but I like that you see new facets of these characters all the way up to the end. I think his understated style helps manage those swings. Soderbergh can be pretty overt with his themes, especially with some side characters that are basically there for social commentary. The leads are strong, though. I totally forgot about the intro and did the jaw-drop forehead-slap thing with the kitchen scene. Good soundtrack tends to linger and push things along, like in Contagion.

And now to catch up on rankings for all the Soderbergh movies I’ve seen:

  1. Haywire
  2. Out of Sight
  3. Magic Mike
  4. The Girlfriend Experience
  5. Solaris
  6. Contagion
  7. The Informant!
  8. Ocean’s Eleven
  9. Traffic
  10. Side Effects
  11. Ocean’s Twelve
  12. Ocean’s Thirteen

Seriously, what a great director. I don’t think you can credibly use the word “mediocre” or even “average” about any of those movies until you get down to number 10 or 11 maybe.

Traffic

Traffic. It took a good hour before I realized I’d seen it before. It took a good two seconds before I remembered that I have a huge man-crush on Benicio del Toro. He’s so good. Don Cheadle, too. The movie as a whole is pretty straightforward, docudrama-ish style, not played up for emotions like Babel or other multi-storyline, “highbrow globalist tearjerkers”. A few interesting things… the cool blue tint for U.S. interiors vs. the overexposed yellows in Mexico; the tension between identity and professional image; and the anecdote about Khrushchev and the two letters:

You know, when they forced Khrushchev out, he sat down and wrote two letters to his successor. He said, “When you get yourself into a situation you can’t get out of, open the first letter, and you’ll be safe. When you get yourself into another situation you can’t get out of, open the second letter”. Well, soon enough, this guy found himself into a tight place, so he opened the first letter. Which said, “Blame everything on me”. So he blames the old man, it worked like a charm. He got himself into a second situation he couldn’t get out of, he opened the second letter. It said, “Sit down, and write two letters”.