Logan Lucky. Preeeetty good. Heist movies are inherently absurd. Just gotta lean into it and I love that this one does. Neat to see scenes with cameos of local regular Atlantans like me. Shaky accents here and there. Can’t shake the feeling that at times it’s mildly classist in a pointing-and-laughing kind of way more than a laughing-with-them way. (Some defensiveness bubbling up, I think – I feel like I notice and feel this more about movies set in the South than movies with similar casts in other regions.) No less fun for it. Filed under: Steven Soderbergh.
Magic Mike XXL. My appreciation for it grows as time passes. It’s more aimless than the first one (which I really liked), and I think that “this isn’t gonna be like last time” shift is pretty obvious right away with the “Pony” solo. This one seems more gentle and… appreciative? Everybody learned some lessons over the years since the last one. Now it’s time to celebrate, honor that time, and move on. It’s a shame their crew only has like 1.5 decent dancers, but it kinda works. I really enjoyed Kameron Hurley’s series of tweets about the movie, which had me shouting in agreement. Filed under: Magic Mike.
Haywire. Second viewing (the first). Sometimes it could use a little spark, but I do appreciate it’s overall reserve and steady rumble. If I were in charge, I’d probably do some trimming at the end. Nice, though, to let the side characters like MacGregor and Douglas shine a bit.
Foxcatcher. I appreciate the acting, but I couldn’t hang with it. Mark Ruffalo is a genius, though. Matt Zoller Seitz said it well: “If I had to make a list of movies I’m saddest about not having liked, this would rank near the top.”
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Pretty to look at (reminded me of how I felt about Iron Man 2). Seemed like Tatum was a little bored?
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:
- Out of Sight
- Magic Mike
- The Girlfriend Experience
- The Informant!
- Ocean’s Eleven
- Side Effects
- Ocean’s Twelve
- 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.
Magic Mike. Soderbergh! Best movie ever about the economy and strippers. I’d rank this one behind only Haywire and Out of Sight. You’ve got Tatum’s stripper-slash-roofer-slash-artisan muddling through, but it’s hard to change course when he’s great at something he doesn’t love that’s still addicting in its own way. You’ve got Pettyfer’s teenage socially-tone-deaf bro drifter who’s having a great time being showered with money and attention–at long last! You’ve got McConaughey’s (too?) serious entrepreneur-impresario-emperor. There’s the promise of Miami as the great mythical somewhere else where things are different, some future day. Just a few more nights and then…? Contrast these three with Horn, who takes a more cautious, realist, rooted approach to every day’s compromise. She’s awake in daylight, she works and reads and goes out to dinner and enjoys a glass of wine at home. Hard and boring is okay. Pairs well with Spring Breakers.
Haywire. I love when genre films are cooler than they need to be. There’s plenty of moments of playing color and camera angles and audio cuts. The long shots of just running or driving in reverse (!). Quiet fights. Shower-time rummaging. The house with the lights out. The sunset beach scene. The careful, cautious rooftop chase was a nice change from the insane parkour we often see. The use of moody soundtrack reminded me of Manhunter. Carano is a little bit of a robot. It fits, though. Dialogue isn’t too special, but there’s a certain magic that a recognizable ensemble cast brings. I need to see more Steven Soderbergh. Out of Sight was great.