Posts Tagged ‘Matthew McConaughey’

Kings of the Jungle

The Gentlemen

Director: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Jeremy Strong, Michelle Dockery, Colin Farrell, Henry Golding, Eddie Marsan, Samuel West, Geraldine Somerville

Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) plays entrepreneurial American gangster Mickey Pearson as he takes on British society along with his right hand man Ray wonderfully played by King Arthur star Charlie Hunnam is the new Guy Ritchie action film The Gentlemen which is definitely aimed at the British blokes.

Complete with foul language and an array of fascinating and dubious characters from the Jewish Billionaire Matthew played by Jeremy Strong, the Cockney Cleopatra played against type by Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) and Chinese mafia heavyweight Dry Eye played by Henry Golding (Crazy, Rich Asians), The Gentlemen skilfully navigates a web of intrigue as Pearson tries desperately to outwit these bunch of fellow gangsters.

All masterfully told with a kind of camp gossip by the sleazy journalist Fletcher also beautifully played against type by Hugh Grant (Florence Foster Jenkins, Maurice, The Man From Uncle). Guy Ritchie directs this convoluted storyline in his usual retro-editing fashion and self-reflexive style which has become his cinematic trademark.

Thankfully, Ritchie has returned from his brief sojourn directing the Disney classic Aladdin is quite at home the genre of the British gangster flick which is synonymous with his name.

Colin Farrell (In Bruges, Widows, Roman J. Israel, Esq.) makes a brief but relevant appearance as Coach as he mentors a group of housing estate hoodlums which inadvertently work for Mickey Pearson and magically trick various opponents out of the highly coveted stash of weed, which the crime boss is so cleverly concealing on British country estates. Between the Jewish Billionaire, Dry Eye and Pearson, all of them are vying for the title of King of the Jungle.

From hoodies to cultured lords, The Gentleman is a masterful and clever story, told with dexterity by Guy Ritchie while showcasing the full diversity of London as the multi-cultural British capital city.

Samuel West (The Darkest Hour, Howard’s End, On Chesil Beach) makes a brief appearance as Lord Pressfield whose daughter has got caught up with a bunch of junkies.  

Director Guy Ritchie makes a play on all the connotations of what a Gentleman is meant to be: noble, kind, loyal as he names this violent, foul-mouthed and exciting gangster flick The Gentlemen which is not surprising from a creator of such films as Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

If viewers are looking for a brilliant British gangster flick, then look no further than The Gentlemen which gets a film rating of 8 out of 10. It’s a twisty, violent and flamboyant gangster film featuring an array of super cool characters and crackling dialogue.

71st Golden Globe Awards

71st Golden Globe Awards

Took place on Sunday 12th  January 2014 hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association

Golden Globe Winners in The Film Categories:

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Best Film Drama – 12 Years a Slave

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Best Film Musical or Comedy – American Hustle

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Best Actor Drama: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Actress Drama: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

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Best Actor Musical or Comedy: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

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Best Actress Musical or Comedy: Amy Adams – American Hustle

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

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Best Director: Alphonso Cuaron – Gravity

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Best Foreign Language Film – The Great Beauty (Italy)

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/71st_Golden_Globe_Awards

The Lazarus Missions

Interstellar

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Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn, David Oyelowo, Topher Grace, Timothee Chalamet

Memento meets Gravity in director Christopher Nolan’s epic space opera, Interstellar, a convoluted time travel astrophysical fantasy about a NASA astronaut who gets caught up in a mission to travel to an alternative Galaxy in a bid to save the remaining humanity on earth from a dwindling supply of oxygen.

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Assembling an all star cast is what director Nolan does best at insuring that his films have credibility as a blockbuster and with a range of stars, yet unlike Inception or The Prestige, his earlier films which dealt with dreams and magic, Interstellar tends to emulate the great director Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece: 2001: A Space Odyssey, yet falls short of its celestial aspirations, by not being a touch more sinister.

In parts, Interstellar is brilliant and ambitious, wonderfully scored with atmospheric music by Hans Zimmer and incredibly shot with those signature spiralling shots that Nolan is so fond of. However, Interstellar suffers from two shortcomings, taking the films weighty significance too seriously and secondly a serious lack of editing. The first and last sections of Interstellar weighs down the brilliance and absolute clarity of the middle section.

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With McConaughey fresh from his Oscar win on Dallas Buyers Club coupled with Hathaway fresh from her win in Les Miserables it seems like a perfect casting choice, but it’s flawed by its very contrivance. The part which does stand out so brilliantly is that of Murphy superbly played by the underrated Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as Cooper’s grownup and embittered daughter who is hell bent in following in her father’s footsteps and traveling beyond the black hole to discover the reason for the earth’s imminent demise. Watch out for cameo appearances by Ellen Burstyn, Wes Bentley and David Oyelowo.

Fellow Oscar nominee Casey Affleck is also good as the stubborn yet stoical brother of Murphy in a part which is severely underwritten along with that of Oscar winner Michael Caine as Professor Brand who plays Hathaway’s enigmatic father, a scientist who masterminds the space exploration from the outset knowing that the intended consequences of such a doomed mission are dire and certainly revelatory at best.

Interstellar ‘s post-structural narrative gets more blurred, the further the astronauts travel through a celestial wormhole, around a vast system known as Gargantuan, soon realizing that their mission much like their own destiny is doomed to fail, resulting in a multitude of Lazarus missions.

The only subversive element is a rescued astronaut Mann, wonderfully played by Matt Damon, found on a frozen wasteland of a planet which seems to be the only alternative to the dust clad environment of a doomed earth, who is wily in his attempts to escape his icy predicament.

With a script by Jonathan Nolan, Interstellar suffers from too little said and not enough explained, while most of the narrative rests on some remarkably clever visual clues which only make sense in the last section of the film, which resembles a pastiche of Inception mixed with an unquantifiable mystical factor.

The cast with a threadbare script had little else to work on besides their own doomed destinies and the terrors of space. Thus there is loads of human anguish thrown in along with some stunning visuals, but at nearly three hours long Interstellar could have been expertly edited to make a more concise tale of 21st century doomed space exploration. Besides Anne Hathaway just doesn’t cut it as an astronaut and should stick to period dramas, where at least the claustrophobia is explained by historical context and not subliminal infinity.

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As an avid fan of Christopher Nolan films and trust me I loved The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, I personally found Interstellar fascinating yet an ultimately flawed and slightly contrived piece of cinema crippled by its unendurable length, without enough plot twists to generate sufficient audience excitement. Like Inception, Interstellar will certainly be open to discussion.

 

The Grand Floridian Tale

The Paperboy

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Director: Lee Daniels

Starring: Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, David Oyelowo, Matthew McConaughey, Macy Gray, John Cusack, Scott Glenn, Ned Beatty

Before controversial director Lee Daniels become famous for his film about the American civil rights movement in The Butler, he tackled the big screen adaptation of American writer Pete Dexter’s 1995 novel The Paperboy about journalism, ethics and sultry desire in the humidity soaked state of Florida in the mid-sixties.

Matthew McConaughey’s conscious decision as an actor to shed his Rom-Com image and star in more controversial films is evident in this edgy thriller as he bravely  takes on the part of Ward Jansen, a hard-drinking Miami reporter who returns home to Moat County, Florida to investigate the gruesome death of the town Sheriff and the consequent arrest and incarceration of the chief suspect Hillary van Wetter, a rural swamp dwelling redneck, dangerously played by John Cusack.

Add to the explosive story of murder, lust and betrayal is Ward’s younger brother Jack Jansen the scantily clad swimmer played by Zac Efron and van Wetter’s supposed prison fiancé the trashy yet resourceful Charlotte Bless, in a surprisingly different turn by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours) making The Paperboy an intoxicating mix of pulpy journalism, sacrifice, mystery and tragedy, all atmospherically played out in the sweltering summer of 1965 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Paperboy is not for sensitive viewers and contains some controversial scenes in this unusual yet absorbing thriller including a scene where Kidman’s character Bliss urinates on the writhing jellyfish stung torso of Jack on a Florida beach, in a sequence which even shocked hardened Cannes Film Festival audiences at its 2012 premiere.

There are other equally gruesome and lurid scenes in The Paperboy, but the acting is topnotch especially from Kidman and McConaughey, the latter was clearly preparing for his groundbreaking Oscar winning performance in the recent Dallas Buyers Club. Whilst the narrative of The Paperboy is crude, shocking and ultimately tragic, what would audiences expect from the controversial director of Precious?

Unlike the superbly written and hugely stylish novel by Pete Dexter, the only criticism of Lee Daniels film version is that the ending is slightly altered. For those audiences that thought McConnaughey did a sudden transformation for Dallas Buyers Club, then its best to watch his more shocking performance in The Paperboy to see his ongoing evolution as an actor.

With a groovy retro soundtrack and a fabulous sixties, almost sultry Southern ambiance inspired by the more violent films like Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning set in the same period, The Paperboy is a gritty and brilliant thriller of one man’s desperate attempt to uncover the truth at all costs despite the damage it causes to himself and those around him for the sake of journalistic integrity. For in The Paperboy the Story becomes paramount despite the terrible cost of human sacrifice.

Pop star Macy Gray and David Oyelowo (also seen in The Butler) as the smooth talking Yardley Acheson round off the cast of The Paperboy which shows that teen heartthrob Zac Efron (Charlie St Cloud, Hairspray) can really hold his own onscreen against Oscar winners Kidman and McConnaughey. This Grand Floridian tale is recommended viewing but not for those easily offended.

Cowboys in the Rodeo Ring

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Dallas Buyers Club

Director: Jean-Marc Vallee

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare, Griffin Dunne, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts

The Young Victoria French Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallee tackles the AIDS pandemic in the gritty but superbly told critically acclaimed film Dallas Buyers Club.

The film which opens with reckless rodeo hand and electrician Ron Woodruff having a cocaine fuelled orgy in a rodeo pen on the outskirts of Dallas, showing a glimpse of a hard living reckless Texan drifter. The narrative is firmly placed in the summer of 1985, at the height of the pandemic as audiences see an emaciated Woodruff recovering from a binge in his trailer park with a Budweiser as he reads a newspaper article about Hollywood star Rock Hudson collapsing in a Ritz Hotel room in Paris in July 1985 due to an AIDS related illness, shocking the world with a disease that the famous film star took pains to keep hidden – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Hudson.

This is a precursor to Woodroof’s own less glamorous story of a far more determined battle with the disease and the monolithic Federal Drug Administration (FDA) of America, which approved the relevant anti-retro virals (ARV’s), namely AZT first used on unsuspecting HIV patients alternating with a placebo in human drug trials.

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Woodroof is  the central character in Dallas Buyers Club, a homophobic, drug addicted hard-partying electrician who bets on the Texas rodeo to maintain a hedonistic lifestyle which abruptly changes after an industrial accident at a Texaco oil field, superbly played by Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer, Magic Mike), who lost 21 kilograms to authenticate the role, which recently earned him the 2014 best actor Oscar. McConaughey is now hot property in the acting stakes after shedding his rom-com image (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days) and taking part in increasingly edgier, morally dubious parts such as in Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy and the recent HBO series True Detective.

In the Dallas Mercy hospital, a severely gaunt looking Woodroof is told that he is HIV positive and only has 30 days to live by Dr Sevard, (Denis O’Hare) and the sympathetic Dr Eve Saks, played by Jennifer Garner. Refusing to accept defeat and not willing to wait for the proposed clinical trials of the newly developed antiretroviral AZT, Woodroof embarks on a mission to source the best possible ARVs to keep him alive. After an initial phase of denial, anger and stigmatisation from fellow co-workers and those he previously cavorted with at the Dallas rodeos, the determined Woodruff embarks on a mission to save his life even if it means illegally.

He embarks on an illicit journey to Mexico where he meets Dr Vass played by Griffin Dunne who supplies him with a regimen of FDA unapproved drugs to sustain his survival. Ever the drifter, Woordoof makes his way back into Texas, ironically dressed as priest with a stash of ARVs which he needs to distribute under the radar to fellow sufferers.

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However his pervasive illness lands him back in hospital where he meets the fabulously tragic transsexual Rayon, an utterly breathtaking transformation by Jared Leto (American Psycho, Requiem for a Dream, Alexander), who also received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor at the 2014 Academy Awards. The gorgeous, fatally destructive Rayon is the perfect foil to break down Woodruff’s preconceived notions of homosexuality and homophobia as his biggest clients, the city’s largely excluded homosexual community soon become paying members of the lucrative, yet life saving Dallas Buyers Club.

What director Jean-Marc Vallee does, is never hold these characters in judgement but superbly lifts a mirror up to their desperate and unconventional forms of survival in mid-1980’s America when the knowledge of AIDS and the correct dosage of ARVs was certainly not as advanced as it is today, almost 20 years later.

It is McConaughey and Leto’s staggering transformation with the former losing an incredible amount of weight and really bringing pathos and layers of emotion to a complex role while Leto is simply incredible as the sultry and tragic Rayon who eventually has to forgo the charade and in one touching scene he bravely confronts his sexuality and illness with his conservative Texan father.

Both actors deserved to win these Oscars and while Dallas Buyers Club is heavy on subject matter, it is a supremely balanced account of one man’s incredible and courageous journey of survival both in America and through procuring foreign drugs internationally to prolong his life at a time when advances in medical science were only grappling to come to terms with the scale of a truly worldwide AIDS pandemic.

Powerful, emotional and brilliant, Dallas Buyers Club follows the trials of Woodroof and Rayon as cowboys in the rodeo ring, dodging the inevitability of being thrown off the proverbial bull while the clowns provide a tragic distraction, the film’s poignant central motif.

86th Academy Awards

The 86th Academy Awards / The Oscars

 

Sunday 2nd March 2014

 

OSCAR WINNERS AT THE 86TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS

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Best Picture/Film: 12 Years a Slave

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Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity

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Best Actor: Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Actress: Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club

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Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave

Best Adapted Screenplay: John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave

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Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze – Her

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Best Foreign Language Film: The Great Beauty (Italy) directed by Paolo Sorrentino

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Beauty

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Best Documentary Film: 20 Feet from Stardom – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20_Feet_from_Stardom

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Best Animated Feature: Frozen

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki – Gravity

Best Editing: Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger – Gravity

Best Hair and Make-up: Robin Matthews – Dallas Buyers Club

Best Original Score: Steven Price – Gravity

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Best Production Design: Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby

Best Costume Design: Catherine Martin – The Great Gatsby

Best Visual Effects: Gravity

Source: http://www.oscars.org/

 

 

 

 

Scorsese’s Satyricon

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The Wolf of Wall Street

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Jean Dujardin, Joanna Lumley, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bernthal, Jon Favreau, Shea Wingham

The much anticipated explosive new film about Wall Street Stock broker Jordan Belfort by acclaimed director Martin Scorsese is an orgy of drugs, hedonism and consumerism held tightly together by one of the best on screen performances that Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby) has ever given. The Wolf of Wall Street can best be described as Oliver Stone’s Wall Street highballing on crack and speed with large amounts of sex, swearing and swindling thrown in.

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The three hour film about the rise and fall of one of Wall Street’s most notoriously decadent stockbrokers is fascinating, bizarre, crude and highly entertaining. The Wolf of Wall Street is Scorsese’s sleazy and salacious Satyricon, a drug fuelled  hedonistic journey into the heart of America’s consumerism, while ripping to shreds its number one bastion Rampant Capitalism. For according to Belfort there is no nobility in poverty.

Audiences meet Belfort when he is a young would be stockbroker as he arrives off the bus on Wall Street soon to be taken in by the foul-mouthed cocaine sniffing chest thumping mentor Mark Hanna an expertly played cameo by Matthew McConnaughey.

Belfort after the Stock Exchange crash of 1989, goes into penny shares in a two bit stock brokerage in Long Island, where he revolutionizes the bunch of weirdo pot selling brokers into a serious blue chip Wall Street company rebranding it as Stratton Oakmont. Soon Belfort motivates his entire team to sell penny shares (those companies that cannot afford to be listed on NASDAQ) to the very rich, and after much cavorting and convincing, earns huge amounts of cash where the brokerage becomes a literal madhouse of drugs, greed and absolute debauchery.

With the help of his wing man Donny, a brilliant performance by Jonah Hill of Moneyball fame, Belfort catapults Stratton Oakmont into a serious stock brokerage to rival Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and the late Lehman Brothers in New York whilst at the same time committing serious securities fraud with imaginary IPO’s.

At the heart of The Wolf of Wall Street is a story about corruption, unrelenting drug addiction, rampant sex and partying, a frenetically paced tour de force of the arc of an absolute sinner energetically played by DiCaprio who is in virtually every scene of the film. Memorable scenes include his blond wife Naomi (a wonderful turn by newcomer Margot Robbie of the TV series Pan Am) walking in on a gay orgy in their plush Manhattan apartment, a bizarre incident with Belfort driving his white Ferrari from the Country Club while literally dazed on sleeping pills, a luxury yacht riding massive Mediterranean waves en route to Monaco, a sex-crazed air hostess humping trip in first class to Switzerland and that’s just to name some of the few crazy episodes in The Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese’s film is a sublime Satyricon meshing elements of Casino, Shutter Island and The Departed proving that he is a consummate director and cinematic visionary.

Belfort’s eventual downfall comes at the hand of  conservative securities agent Patrick Denham played by Kyle Chandler (Super 8) but not before he has moved large parts of his vast fortune off shore to a Swiss Bank account with the help of a slimy banker Saurel seductively played by Jean Dujardin of The Artist and Naomi’s British aunt Emma played by Ab Fab star Joanna Lumley who utters the immortal line “I have lived through the Sixties”.

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Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is frenetic, shocking and superbly acted by DiCaprio along with an incisive script by Terence Winter, a tour-de-force of a film, a reason to love the art of cinema. A highly recommended montage on the destructive nature of greed and addiction, The Wolf is not for sensitive viewers, but packs a powerful punch held together by an Oscar worthy performance by DiCaprio whose rousing motivational trading floor speeches are the stuff of cinematic legends. After all if you can sell a pen, then you are a salesman…

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!

 

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