Entries in Steven Soderbergh (5)

Friday
Dec222017

Logan Lucky- review

 

“Logan Lucky” (2017)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig

Running Time 158 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Director Steven Soderbergh is back.  After his short self imposed early retirement, which I didn’t believe in much anyways the Oscar winning director is back and that’s a good thing.  Soderbergh puts a rural spin on his most commercially successful films; Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13 with “Logan Lucky”.  Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are the ‘unlucky’ Logan brothers who decide to take back something for themselves with a heist during the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

 

Breezy is a good way to describe this film, but I would say it’s even better described as cool glass of lemonade on a very hot day.  It won’t do more than quench your thirst for that moment, but for its nearly two hour running time, I was quenched.  Shout out to Daniel Craig playing bigger comedically than I’ve seen him do before. Also, was it just me, or did Tatum put on a few pounds for this role?  That’s commendable commitment in what turned out to be on deaf ears as this film did nothing at the box office.  

Consider yourself lucky and watch this film.

Matthew 5:6

 

Thursday
Feb072013

Side Effects- review

“Side Effects” (2013)
Directed by  Steven Soderbergh
Starring Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, Jude Law
Running Time 106 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

“Side Effects” is the first must-see film of 2013.  Watch it, take two pills, and then read this in the morning.

Steven Soderbergh has been killing it of late.  He rocked 2012 with Magic Mike and Haywire but out does both of those by nailing a top-notch psychological thriller that knocked me off my seat with “Side Effects”.  Accompanied by a chess master script from Scott Z. Burns (Contagion, The Informant!), Soderbergh gives us one of those “this crazy crap could actually happen” tales that expertly sets you up and knocks you down over, and over again.  

Soderbergh’s visuals and shot selections float like butterflies and his twists and turns sting like a bees.  The famed director duped this viewer; framing figures in the shadows while leading me one way and gleefully bringing me somewhere Hitchcockian else.  In what could of played out sillier than a very special episode of Scrubs meets Law & Order SVU, Soderbergh brings a playfully devilish war, skimping on morals that scared the hell out of me and made me love it.

I’m not going to go too much into the plot as to keep this treasure spoil free.  Side Effects tackles many topics and isn’t afraid to do it in Soderbergh’s 3 outta 10 minority voice.  From a look at our pill popping culture, to what are the consequences and responsibilities of the doctors who prescribe them, to revenge, financial needs, paranoia, and much more.  All of this done to the fine tuned mastery of Soderbergh.

You can take my word for it and enjoy, or you can read on and I’ll give you a little to nosh on.  

“Side Effects” starts out with 20-something Emily (Rooney Mara) welcoming her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) from prison who did time for insider trading.  Even with her husband back and life getting on track, she falls prey to extreme anxiety and serious depression resulting in a suicide attempt.  Assigned to the care of psychiatrist Dr. Banks (Jude Law), Emily is allowed to not be put in a mental hospital if she’ll visit him regularly. Dr. Banks put her on a new drug, Ablixa, which results in her feeling better, being able to function properly, and even gives her a higher sex drive, even if she does develop a nasty sleepwalking habit as a side effect.  

From there a very unfortunate incident happens resulting in the question being asked: “If the patient is responsible for their actions when put on strong pharmaceutical drugs?” ---basically putting the system on trial.  

From there, all hell breaks loose and its a wonderful ride worth taking.
 
Besides Rooney Mara who uses her talents to, once again, show a cold and distant character, Soderbergh has his usuals in his leads.  He’s right to have a mancrush on Channing Tatum, and Tatum is beyond blessed getting to have a director that is stretching him dramatically leaps and bounds.  You might not think it from the trailers, but this is Jude Law’s film and his semi-sleazy exterior does all the more to have us every which way but loose.  

But it was Catherine Zeta-Jones who made me do a double take.  As Emily’s old psychiatrist, Dr. Victoria Siebert, Zeta-Jones looks like one of Robert Palmer’s addicted to love femmes with a bachelors in psychology.  It took about five seconds, but “Side Effects” became by far her most intriguing and best work.   

Steven Soderbergh says “Side Effects” will be his last directed film for quite some time to which I say boo, but if it is, then job well done sir.

Steven Soderbergh says “this” will be his last directed film for quite some time to which I say boo, but if it is, then job well done sir.

Proverbs 17:22

Monday
Jul022012

Magic Mike- review

“Magic Mike” (2012)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer
Running Time 110 Minutes, Rated R.
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

More six packs than an out of control frat party, more grind than my annoyed gears, more assless chaps than a group of flat-bottomed Brits... Magic Mike and the rest of the exotic dances in the Xquisite Male Dance Revue in Tampa, Florida are the closest thing to superheroes for a lot of hot and bothered females.  

Lets get it straight that I’ve been on the Channing Tatum band wagon for quite some time now.  As the films titled Magic Mike, a 30-year old male stripper who may be longing for more than just working the proverbial pole, Tatum delivers a performance that’s stronger than his abs (pretty strong).  

Pick-a-genre-and-he’s-done-it-Steven Soderbergh calmly directs the world of Chippendale’s with his trademark color saturated self-cinematography and characters starting dialogue with their heads out of frame.  

The many a time told tale of manboy trying not to become his job is something we’ve obviously seen before. Tatum, who most of us know used to be apart of this line of work in his earlier years, plays the realest, and his loads of charm doesn’t hurt much either.  

Mike brings in or one might say “pimps” in, the 19-year old dirt poor Adam, played with a doe-eyed likability by Alex Pettyfer, into the enticing world of sexy dude dancing.  Adams couches on sister Brooke’s couch.  Cody Horn is also actor fantastic as the disapproving but level headed Brooke who Mike is drawn to.  The time taken for Mike and Brooke to get to know each other is refreshing and a huge payoff.  

The onstage antics themselves are captured as a good time from Soderbergh in the beginning.  I know what team I play for, but I respected the showmanship of the men showing the ladies a good time.  Soderbergh makes it super sleek and super sexy showing a world that the young Adam would no doubt get addicted to and the living void that that lifestyle employs.  On the other spectrum of Mike is the 40-year old ringleader Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), who is not only a lifer but also a true believer.  McConaughey is cast to perfection as the greased up, sleazed up, and shirtless Dallas, who if you listen to very carefully, you’ll hear a few classic “Alright, alright, alright’s” from the legendary naked-bongo-playing-actor.  

Reid Carolin‘s dialogue rings true.  From Mike’s pick up lines to when he explains to Brooke his stripper wisdom of why her younger brother is in the business, “women, money, and a good time”, sounds realistic enough to me for a 19-year old to get hooked on the high.  In fact “Magic Mike” rings as true as their sweaty g-strings.  Now, while I very much do not approve of exoctic clubs I do very much approve of this film.

I do very much approve of “this”.

 

1 Kings 14:24

Monday
Jan232012

Haywire- review

“Haywire” (2012)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor
Running Time 93 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Arnold Schwarzenegger was a champion bodybuilder before hitting the silver screen, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wore tights wrestling for the WWE before he smelt what Hollywood was cooking, and now Gina Carano , plucked from her Mixed Martial Arts with a specialty in Muay Thai Kickboxing, could be the next big thing in action, and maybe, the first true female kick-butt superstar (this reviewer can only hope).  

Carano was discovered by genre-prolific director Steven Soderbergh.  Soderbergh explains, “I saw her fighting on TV, literally by chance, channel-surfing. … I landed on one of her fights, and I just thought, ‘Wow, she’s really something. Kind of an interesting combination of elements.’ She’s beautiful, she’s brutal. When she was interviewed she seemed charming, and not at all weird or freakish, or egotistical. … And when “Moneyball” blew apart, that very same week she got beat in the last fight she had. I thought, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to do a spy movie in the sort of ’60s vein. Why don’t I just combine these two things? Make her the spy and build this movie around her. She can break people in half. This could be fun.’”

And fun “Haywire” is.  Soderbergh takes Lem Dobbs‘ (The Limey) minimalistic but clever screenplay set around Carano’s physical talents in nicely staged actions sets that don’t look staged.  Forgoing CGI for single-take brutality, Sodergbegh puts a new coat on an old beauty that’s sleeker than it should be.  Unlike the performer-vehicle with adult actress Sasha Grey in the anything but entertaining The Girlfriend Experience, Soderbergh accomplishes popcorn goodness by utilizing Carano in his ode to girl-action-film”.
  
Gina Carano has the fuller body of a Pam Grier than the action stick-figured Angelina Jolie.  When we first see Carano onscreen, she isn’t wearing heavy make-up with skin tight form fitting wear to pull the male viewers in, she has a natural beauty that does it anyways1.  Carano plays Mallory, a contracted black-ops agent, who when on a mission to rescue a Chinese dissident journalist she’s double-crossed, framed, and wanted dead. Mallory has to work her way through or beat her way through the spy-type men (Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor) in her way.

The men look all the more suave taking their beating from Carano.  Old Man Puss in Boots, Banderdas, looks good with his grey beard while using his accent for deception. Michael Fassbender and his abs look good before Carano and him square off in the most effective fight of the film.  There are worse ways to being knocked unconscious as she chokes him out with her legs wrapped around his neck.  Even Ewan McGregor gets to throw some punches in a rare fight scene for the good looking Scotsman.

Steven Soderbergh is rumored to be retiring soon, don’t know how much stock I put in that, but if that’s true I want to thank him for this rare January movie gem and for introducing the force that is Gina Carano.

“and for introducing the force that is “this”.

1. Of course no where near the beauty of my wife.

 

1 Peter 3:16 

Sunday
Sep112011

Contagion- review

“Contagion” (2011)
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law
Running Time 105 Minutes, Rated PG-13
3 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

“Contagion” is a disaster movie that’s absolutely believable and, at times, absolutely terrifying.  Prolific director Steven Soderberg’s virus spreading epidemic thriller doesn’t spread it’s horror to its audience as effectively as the film's disease, but it still succeeds to serve as an apocalyptic PSA that had this viewer looking for the nearest sanitizer bottle.

Steven Soderberg expertly uses the tricks from his bag.  Using techno music to confuse and starting the film off with bright red colors at the bottom of the screen that reads Day 2.  Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) comes home to her husband Mitch in Minneapolis after her Hong Kong business trip with the sniffles.  The next morning she’s rushed to the hospital and quickly dies, Mitch comes home to find out the same fate has come to their son.  

Kudos to Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns’ script killing off a star in the first ten minutes.  Don’t worry they have plenty more stars to go around.  Laurence Fishburne stood out for me amongst the cast playing Dr. Cheever, the head of the Center of Disease Control in Atlanta with his strong comfort being a voice for the looming horror.  Kate Winslet plays Dr. Cheever’s field scientist Dr. Erin Mears on the hunt for the diseases origin.  An engaging detective mystery unfolds as the scientific community tries to play catch up with the disease that only needs you to touch what a carrier has got their hands on or be coughed on.    

Soderberg explores every angle as the virus plays favorites to no one.  From the scientific that also has Marion Cotillard working for Switzerland’s World Health Organization in a side plot that doesn’t feel half fleshed and probably had plenty on the cutting room floor.  To the political and social networking aspect as a blogger played by Jude Law uses his popularity to either inform truth or spread fear faster than virus can.  

The anchor is Matt Damon’s everyday guy Mitch, as he’s left protecting his only child in a society that’s quickly breaking down.  The small touches hit the most.  Little things like your family mortuary not accepting your wife cause the insurance agency doesn’t know how to classify the disease or being a teenager making snow angels with your crush and having your father shoo him away with a shotgun in his hand so you’re not infected.  

Soderbergh’s main character is the virus itself.  Doing so keeps the viewer experiencing the relentlessness and fear of what’s at stake, but on other side, the film has as much character as the virus its portraying.  I was never enthralled at the stories evolution.  “Contagion” is another example of Soderberghs gift for directing, but with the world at stake, it should of hit a lot harder than it did.  Maybe I just haven’t caught it yet.  Achoo.

Maybe I just haven’t caught “this” yet.  Achoo.
I want to thank Warner Bros. for the free promotional materials and Blu-ray Copy of this film!