Behind the Candelabra (2013)

behindthecandelabra_1rStarring Michael Douglas, Matt Damon, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Lowe, Debbie Reynolds, Scott Bakula, Tom Papa, Nicky Katt, Cheyenne Jackson, Paul Reiser, Boyd Holbrook, David Koechner

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High. I’m becoming quite the Soderbergh fan.

threehalfstar


As I sit here wondering where to start the review, I’m realizing that articulating what I liked and didn’t like about Behind the Candelabra is going to be tough. What I can easily say is that just about everything I loved about the film stems from the performances by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon as Liberace and Scott Thorson respectively. The duo is absolutely smashing together, so even when the film hits some dull, obvious scenes through its relatively standard biopic arc, it’s hard to knock the film too much because the sheer amount of acting prowess on display is huge. Douglas and Damon would be high on the contention list for the Oscars if this wasn’t a film made for HBO.

Behind the Candelabra begins by showing us how Scott comes to meet Liberace. Scott works as a dog trainer on films, hoping to one day parlay his passion for working with animals into a career as a veterinarian. His life path shifts when his buddy Bob (Scott Bakula) takes him to a Liberace show. The performance dazzles Scott (and every other audience member), and when Scott goes backstage with Bob, Liberace immediately takes notice of Scott’s youth and good looks. There are warning signs all around Scott, but in the face of such showmanship, he can’t help but get sucked in.

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Side Effects (2013)

sideeffects_1Starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, Vinessa Shaw, Ann Dowd, Polly Draper, David Costabile, Mamie Gummer

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High. I’m becoming quite the Soderbergh fan.

threestar


Side Effects is ultimately a thriller, but you’d never know it by the way the film sets itself up. Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) is a depressed woman whose husband (Channing Tatum) has just been released from prison. He was locked up for insider trading, but now that he’s back on the right side of the bars, he’s trying his best to set their lives back on course. Meanwhile, Emily is having a hard time dealing with her mental issues, and one day while exiting a parking garage she decides to take the exit sign painted on the brick wall literally. She drives her car straight into it, and thus sets into motion the twisting that must occur for any thriller to be successful.

But those expecting a thriller right out of the gate will be disappointed by the slow, dramatic crawl towards the thriller content in Side Effects. It’s there, and it’s rather intriguing and interesting to unravel, but less patient viewers will definitely feel the urge to switch the film off before it gets there. Even acknowledging this fact, the film is a little slow in places, and the some of the second half isn’t as strong as it could be. Regardless, Side Effects is largely a successful film.

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Magic Mike (2012)

magicmike-onesheetStarring Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Cody Horn, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodríguez, Kevin Nash, Olivia Munn, Gabriel Iglesias

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High. I’m becoming quite the Soderbergh fan.

threehalfstar


The greatness of Magic Mike is not immediately apparent. On the surface, it’s something of modern, male stripper version of Boogie Nights, but to simply write it off as that is to miss the point of Magic Mike completely. Its power lies in its characterizations of Mike (Channing Tatum), Adam (Alex Pettyfer) and Dallas (Matthew McConaughey), but I only really cracked it in the minutes following the film, as I tried to put into words what I liked about how screenwriter Reid Carolin and Steven Soderbergh had constructed the movie.

The surface story is your classic tale of a young kid being brought into the rich, alluring world of a moneymaking business where all his wild dreams can come true. You’ve seen it all before. This makes parts of Magic Mike predictable and somewhat obvious, but the film is really well-paced so you won’t mind so much, as long as you’re invested in the characters (and you love hot male action :)).

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It’s time for another giveaway!

darknight_magicmike_giveaway

OK folks, this one is much more exciting than the last! We’ve got a Blu-Ray combo pack of either The Dark Knight Rises or Magic Mike (prize chosen randomly by Warner Bros) to giveaway, and we’ve only got a couple of days to get it done! This giveaway starts immediately and will be open only until 12/19/12 at 12:00 AM! That’s less than a day and a half, so get your entries in early! US entries only, and because this will be sent out via UPS or FedEx, no P.O. Boxes either. As soon as a winner is selected, I’ll email you and get your details.

This time around there are multiple ways to enter, or if you’re feeling lucky you can enter all of the ways for more chances!

The four ways to get a chance to win are:

  1. Tweet about this giveaway!
  2. Like Silver Emulsion on Facebook!
  3. Follow Silver Emulsion on Twitter!
  4. Take the WB Holiday Movie Challenge in the WB app below and post a comment about the results on this post!

Just remember to head down to the Rafflecopter widget below the WB app to start racking up those chances!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Haywire (2012)

Haywire (2012)
AKA Knockout, Agent Mallory

Starring Gina Carano, Michael Angarano, Channing Tatum, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Julian Alcaraz, Eddie J. Fernandez, Anthony Brandon Wong, Michael Fassbender, Mathieu Kassovitz, Bill Paxton

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High.


Why make the same tired genre film with the same tired genre conventions when you can do something different? This is essentially the Soderbergh manifesto, and he continues to display his ability to subvert the genre film with Haywire. I really haven’t delved deep into Soderbergh’s filmography, but I always think of his movies as either “the big A-Picture” or “the low-budget B-Picture”. He seems to like to bounce back and forth between the two, with the low-budget ones being somewhat experimental. His last released film, Contagion, definitely feels like the A (while still being somewhat daring and experimental), while Haywire definitely feels like the B. I don’t mean that as a slight in any sense, merely as a point of reference for fans that might be seeking a way to classify this somewhat hard to peg movie. The cast would suggest a giant ensemble movie, but it’s really much more reserved than that.

Gina Carano plays a black ops contractor tasked with rescuing a Chinese hostage in Barcelona. The job is a simple one, but as the film unfolds we find that there is more going on under the surface than it would appear. The film’s story is not told directly, requiring the viewer to piece it together themselves. It’s rather simple when you boil it down, but Soderbergh’s editing and somewhat fractured storytelling help it from getting too clichéd. On the flip side of that, the presentation of the story also gives the film an aloof quality that makes it hard to connect with. It’s not a spy picture, and it’s not a Bourne movie, but it is a bit of both. I just think that it’s in your best interest to leave any and all expectations at the door that this will be an action film, because in reality it’s something truly different.

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Contagion (2011)

Starring Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Bryan Cranston, Jennifer Ehle, Sanaa Lathan, Elliott Gould, Anna Jacoby-Heron

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Expectations: High, I have a good feeling about this one.


I’m not a huge Steven Soderbergh fan, but I respect him immensely. Where most Oscar-winning directors are happy to stay sheltered within the studio system once they receive their acclaim, Soderbergh is not one to be shackled to any one genre or tied to any specific type of film. He consistently makes the films he wants to make, casting unknown actors in one film and then following it up with a slickly produced Ocean’s Eleven film. If there’s one style that has become synonymous with his name though, it’s the ensemble cast drama, even if he hasn’t really made too many of them. Traffic was clearly his defining film for most people (and me as well), so going into Contagion I had an idea that it would be “Traffic with germs”.

That’s pretty much what I got, but that’s far too simple of a way to put it. It both sells the film short and fails to convey the triumph that Soderbergh has achieved with Contagion. There have been lots of viral epidemic movies throughout the years, but never have they been as hyper-realistic as this. Contagion methodically moves from day-to-day, tracking the course of the outbreak across the world. It focuses on a number of people in various locations around the world, and together their stories weave into an overall picture of the epidemic story that is Contagion. It’s like a disease procedural, so if you zoned out or got bored during this paragraph, then perhaps this film is not for you. If, on the other hand, this sounds interesting and up your alley, then definitely give Contagion a shot.

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