Archive for the ‘Steven Soderbergh’ Category

The Hillbilly Heist

Logan Lucky

 

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Sebastian Stan, Katherine Waterson, David Denham

Director Steven Soderbergh has an inventive filmography including Contagion, Side Effects and the Oscar winning films Traffic and Erin Brockovich.

He returns to the big screen with the redneck caper film Logan Lucky starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as unfortunate West Virginia brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan who together with their younger sister Mellie played by Legendary singer Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road, Magic Mike) who concoct a plan to steal cash from the Nascar Speedway during a major Racing event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In order to break into the air locked vault of the cash rich Speedway, the Logan brothers enlist the assistance of incarcerated Joe Bang wonderfully played in a stand out (possibly Oscar worthy) performance by James Bond star Daniel Craig who obviously was desperate to breakout of  the 007 image.

Which is what makes Logan Lucky all the more fascinating. Soderbergh’s uncanny ability to assemble a really good cast to tell an extraordinarily clever story almost rival’s that of the cinematic auteur Woody Allen in his comic films like Café Society.

Except that Logan Lucky is a far cry from the glamourous Golden age of Hollywood of Café Society. Logan Lucky is an exceptionally funny film and almost bizarrely told with a deadpan sense of timing that makes the heist which they seemingly pull off even more unbelievable.

In order for Joe Bang to assist the Logan brothers he has to enlist the help of his own two hillbilly brothers Fish and Sam Bang, superbly played by rising stars Jack Quaid (son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid) and Brian Gleeson (The Eagle, Snow White and the Huntsman) son of Brendan Gleeson.

The unbelievably stupid Bang brothers unlike the Logan brothers feel that committing a crime would be immoral but when the lure of big cash is promised their assistance is secured unequivocally.

What follows is an ingenuous heist film centred on the Nascar Car Racing Event in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the South, below the Mason-Dixon Line where the Southern drawl is pronounced and patriotism to the American flag is unwavering.

With Soderbergh’s trademark use of cameo appearances of big stars including Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Sebastian Stan and Oscar winner Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry, Million Dollar Baby) as FBI Special Agent Sarah Grayson who post-heist desperately tries to catch the culprits only to land up at a West Virginia bar being served by a one armed bartender, Logan Lucky is a character driven film about ordinary citizens wanting to better themselves in a semi-impoverished backwater.

Audiences would have to watch Logan Lucky to enjoy Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and an excellent Daniel Craig in a hillbilly heist comedy about outback losers who plan on getting back at the system which has kept them downtrodden and unemployed. Highly Recommended viewing for those that enjoyed the Ocean’s Eleven Trilogy without the glamour.

Logan Lucky gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is immensely enjoyable.

73rd Academy Awards

73rd Academy Awards

25th March 2001

Oscar Winners at the 73rd Academy Awards

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Best Film: Gladiator

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Best Director: Steven SoderberghTraffic

Best Actor: Russell Crowe – Gladiator

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Best Actress: Julia Roberts – Erin Brockovich

Best Supporting Actor: Benicio del Toro – Traffic

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Best Supporting Actress: Marcia Gay Harden – Pollock

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Best Original Screenplay: Cameron Crowe – Almost Famous

Best Adapted Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan – Traffic

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Best Foreign Language Film: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon directed by Ang Lee (Taiwan)

Best Documentary Feature: Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport  directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer

Best Original Score: Tan Dun – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Best Cinematography: Peter Pau – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

Best Costume Design: Janty Yates – Gladiator

Best Film Editing: Stephen Mirrione – Traffic

Best Visual Effects: Gladiator

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/73rd_Academy_Awards

 

Stripping for Tantalizing Tampa

MAGIC MIKE

This ain’t the village people

Before anyone reads this review, there is a confession to be made… I am a huge Steven Soderbergh fan!

As a film director he can do little wrong. Who else could turn a seemingly sordid tale of male stripping in Southern Florida into a thought-provoking work of decent cinema despite the subject matter? Steven Soderbergh can and it appears he has found his new muse in rising star, dancer turned actor Channing Tatum, in which this story of struggling male stripper turned actor is apparently based on. Magic Mike is far from amusing but tantalizing, provocative and superbly directed.

Soderbergh does for the almost closeted world of male stripping what Darren Aronofsky did for Wrestling and Ballet in his acclaimed films, The Wrestler and Black Swan. After all Soderbergh directed the Oscar winning multitextured portrayal of drug running on the US-Mexican border in Traffic and made a social political thriller in 2011’s excellent film Contagion.

With brilliant direction and solid performances by Channing Tatum in the title role along with Alex Pettyfer as novice young stripper Adam, along with Cody Horn as Adam’s responsible and disapproving sister Brooke and a charismatic and memorable performance by Matthew McConnaughey as sleazy and vain nightclub owner Dallas, Magic Mike follows the trials and stripteases of Mike and Adam in the raunchy and drugfuelled world of male stripping where the cash is easy but the credibility is often unattainable.

Magic Mike is no comedy and although there are loads of hot male bodies, both butts and torsos for female viewers to titiliate over, the film brilliantly overshadows the British comedy on the same subject The Full Monty in both flesh and substance. Its a sort of indictment of how far ordinary people will go to survive in an economically constrained era whilst also highlighting the pitfalls of being drawn into a morally dubious and nefarious glitzy world of strip clubs which is both addictive and difficult to escape from without one’s dignity completely unscathed.

Soderbergh does not sugar coat the world of male stripping nor glamorize its virtues for ultimately the cheap thrills that women receive always takes an emotional toll on the men being objectified. Stripping whether by men or women is ultimately always about sexual objectification and erotic tantalization with the ever elusive promise of forbidden fulfillment. Magic Mike has some light moments and lots of great eye-candy, but the film’s success belongs to Soderbergh’s expert direction and two surprisingly well balanced performances by Channing Tatum and Alex Pettyfer. Well worth the cinematic experience and not just for the gorgeous male cast! There is dancing too! Besides the film’s tagline says everything Work all Day, Work it all Night!

 

Fear as a Virus

Contagion

Contagion

Steven Soderbergh’s gripping medical thriller Contagion follows a similar non-linear structure to his previous Oscar winning film Traffic about the US-Mexican drug trade and features a brilliant cast including Oscar Winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard and Oscar Nominees Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.

With a fantastic musical score by Cliff Martinez, Contagion is a horrifying look out how a highly contagious immunodefiency-virus spreads like wild fire around the world from Macau to Atlanta, from Hong Kong to London through any form of human contact especially in the ease of frequent international travel.

The deadly effects of the virus and how the world population reacts to the onset of a disease so deadly that it threatens the survival of the human race is at the core of Contagion. While the ensemble cast are superb, it is Jennifer Ehle as Dr Ally Hextall in an unusually prolific role, previously seen in Wilde, Pride and Glory and Possession who shines as a scientist who races to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of the rapidly complex and mutating virus.

The always suave Laurence Fishburne plays Dr Ellis Cheever, Head of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and Jude Law features as a conspiracy theorist Alan Krumweide who while in San Francisco tracks the virus online and also how the pharmaceutical industry makes a fortune once a vaccine is developed.

Contagion is a scary and provocative film and raises serious questions about the survival of the fittest and the ethics of managing disease control in light of a deep preservation for continued existence of the human race. Viewers will definitely be washing their hands several times after seeing this absorbing thriller especially the pivotal and brilliant final scene. Whether it be drugs or a virus, both Traffic and Contagion deal with issues of control and the distribution of power in society and the effects of a debilitating affliction that knows no boundaries. Recommended viewing.

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