Steven Soderbergh (USA, 1963) debuted with an independent film,
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), a comedy of manners.
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Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989) e` una commedia di maniere.
John e Ann formano una coppia della media borghesia, apparentemente felici.
In realta` Ann, casalinga, e` una complessata che non prova l'orgasmo,
e ha problemi a lasciarsi toccare dal marito, ed e` sotto cura da uno
psichiatra. John si sfoga con l'avvenente Cynthia, sorella della moglie,
barista, che e` tutto l'opposto: una donna senza inibizioni, un'amante vorace.
John porta a casa l'amico dei tempi del college Graham, che non ha visto da
Graham e` introverso e insicuro, e Ann si confida proprio con lui. Lui ricambia
rivelandole che e` impotente.
Ann va a trovarlo mentre lui si sta masturbando davanti ad alcuni videotape.
Lui le confessa che si eccita soltanto guardando i videotape
di donne che raccontano la propria vita sessuale.
Ann, sconvolta, se ne va e poi si sfoga al telefono con la sorella.
Questa, incuriosita, si reca dal giovane e lui la convince a lasciarsi
intervistare. Lei non solo gli racconta i suoi fatti intimi, ma si spoglia
e si masturba di fronte alla cinepresa.
Ann intanto comincia a sospettare che il marito abbia una relazione.
Quando scopre prove inconfutabili, si consola offrendosi per le interviste
di Graham. Lo confessa al marito, che corre da Graham e si mette a guardare
il video della moglie che parla della vita sessuale con lui.
La moglie in realta` fa parlare Graham del suo complesso, come una terapista,
e a un certo punto impugna la cinepresa e si mette a intervistare e riprendere
lui. Alla fine del video dichiara che ha intenzione di lasciare suo marito.
Il video, in pratica, ha psicanalizzato Graham e in piu` ha trasmesso un
messaggio al marito.
Poi Ann si avvicina a Graham e comincia a baciarlo, e Graham spegne la
cinepresa. Ann ha guarito Graham.
Il marito finisce di guardare il video. E il suo matrimonio finisce li`.
Ann trova impiego e si mette con Graham, mentre a John rimane la sua
carriera di avvocato.
Kafka (1991) was a failed surrealist experiment, but based on an original idea: a film about Kafka that feels like a Kafka tale, influenced by Orson Welles' adaptation of Kafka's "The Trial".
King of the Hill (1993) was the exact opposite:
a simple and fairly conventional period drama,
set during the Great Depression.
The film noir The Underneath (1995),
a remake of Robert Siodmak's Criss Cross,
was very disappointing.
Gray's Anatomy (1996) is a black-and-white documentary with no narration, made out of actor Spalding Gray's monologues and interviews.
Schizopolis (1996), another bizarre surrealist (or absurdist) experiment, this time sounding like a cross of Godard and Bergman,
in which Soderbergh and his wife play a married couple, a confused
Out Of Sight (1998) is adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel.
Jack is a smart bank robber who tricks a bank teller to hand him the money
by pretending that someone is ready to shoot her boss. It works but his car
stalls and the police capture him. It turns out he has robbed hundreds of
banks with his charm. He is sent to prison.
He is a sharp observer and a fantastic psychologist. He fools a guardian
and joins a group who's escaping. His big black friend Buddy has stolen
a car from a lady in a store's parking lot and is waiting outside. But
female marshall Karen happens to see the men coming out of the tunnel and
alerts the guards, who start shooting. Jack and Buddy manage to disarm the
woman and take her hostage. They meet another accomplice, Glen. By taking
advantage of his stupidity, she manages to escape.
A flashback shows Jack and Buddy in prison, learning about
Richard, a seasoned gangster and financier in whose home are hidden
diamons worth millions.
Karen has found the motel where the escaped convicts are hiding, but, instead
of arresting him, she walks into his bath-tub and makes love to him.
Later, Karen is in bed, her father taking care of her. An agent (Daniel) wants
to know how she got hurt. A flashback shows how she ran away from the escaped
convicts and crashed the car.
Karen convinces Daniel to take her on the task force that has to arrest
Buddy and Jack (they have been turned in by a friend). When the task force
raids the hotel, she could stop them but instead lets them escape again.
Karen is looking for Jack, but it is Jack who finds Karen, and they make
Glen has dragged other gangsters into the deal. They are ruthless and
likely to take off with the diamonds. While the gang opens the safe,
Jack and Buddy find the diamons in a fishtank. Buddy runs with the diamonds
but Jack is stuck inside, trying to help the hostage. He wins against the
ruthless gang, but Karen is waiting for him and shoots him in the leg.
But it is not clear if she wants him for the prison or for herself.
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Limey (1999) is a thriller that dares to experiment on one of the most stereotyped genres. Soderbergh does so through his a manic exploration of time and a cryptic characterization of the protagonist. The man does not only bring justice, but also an aura of divine redemption to the sordid, decadent milieu of the entertainment business.
Piu` che il racconto vale lo stile del racconto, nervoso, irregolare,
discontinuo. L'uso creativo dei flashback.
Jenny e` una ragazza morta in un incidente stradale. La versione ufficiale
dice che si e` addormentata alla guida.
Un uomo arriva dall'Inghilterra in aereo con in mano un ritaglio di giornale
in cui si parla di quell'incidente e va subito a trovare Ed, un ex galeotto
che gli ha mandato quel ritaglio. L'uomo e` il padre di Jenny ed e` appena
uscito a sua volta dal carcere. Non vedeva la figlia da anni.
Il racconto e` spezzato in flashback asincroni, che procedono per associazione
d'idee piuttosto che per cronologia o causa ed effetto.
L'uomo compra una pistola da un ragazzino. Ed si ricorda che Jenny gli
chiese di accompagnarlo in un magazzino nella periferia e il padre chiede
ad Ed di accompagnarlo li`. L'uomo entra nel magazzino di nascosto e
aggredisce il responsabile per ottenere informazioni su Terry, il ragazzo
di Jenny. Gli uomini del magazzino lo picchiano e lo buttano fuori. L'uomo
si rialza, estrae la rivoltella, torna dentro e ammazza tutti meno uno.
Terry vive in una villa lussuosa con vista su Los Angeles in compagnia
di una ragazza dolce e attraente, che evidentemente ha preso il posto
di Jenny, e di Jim, l'uomo che gli protegge le spalle e gli fa da
intermediario con la malavita.
Intanto l'uomo e` andato a trovare Elaine, la miglior amica di Jenny.
Il loro discorso prosegue in luoghi e tempi diversi.
Terry e` diventato ricco nell'ambiente della musica rock. Ed accompagna
l'uomo a un party di Terry. L'uomo curiosa per casa, trova un poster della
figlia, ed e` tentato di uccidere Terry. Ma Ed lo ferma e lo porta fuori.
Jim manda una guardia del corpo a controllare di chi si tratta e l'uomo
lo scaraventa giu` dalla terrazza. Ed e l'uomo scappano in auto, inseguiti
da Jim che ha intuito di chi si tratta. Dopo un accanito inseguimento,
Jim blocca l'auto dei due ma l'uomo riesce a liberarsene. A casa Terry
ha scoperto che il poster di Jenny e` scomparso.
Jim va a trovare due gangster e commissiona loro l'assassinio dell'uomo.
I gangster stanno per ucciderlo mentre sta parlando con Elaine ma vengono
sbaragliati da agenti della DEA. La DEA interroga l'uomo e lo lascia
andare quando lui dice la verita`. Gli dicono quanto basta per capire
che Terry ricicla denaro sporco e che Jenny aveva scoperto le attivita`
criminali di Terry.
Jim ha intanto consigliato a Terry di lasciare Los Angeles. Terry, la ragazza,
Jim e altre due guardie del corpo si recano pertanto alla villa di Big Sur.
La sera avvertono la presenza di qualcuno. Temono che si tratti del padre
di Jenny. Spengono le luci, si nascondono. Due guardie del corpo scompaiono.
Jim uccide qualcuno: e` uno dei gangster che aveva assoldato, che avevano
deciso di derubarli. Il complice lo sorprende e lo ferisce a morte prima
che Jim riesca a freddare lui.
Irrompe il padre di Jenny, che si avventa subito su Terry. La ragazza lo
pugnala e consente a Terry di scappare verso la spiaggia. Ma l'uomo lo
raggiunge e lo fa confessare: uccise lui Jenny, in una colluttazione, quando
lei lo minaccio` di chiamare la polizia.
L'uomo e` di nuovo sull'aereo. Flashback della partenza, dei saluti.
Tutti i flashback sono stati muti.
(Click here for an Italian translation)
Traffic (2000) is a social melodrama about the drug war staged by
the United States in the 1990s. Soderbergh depicts the corruption and the
inconsistencies in the American policy. While the film displays Soderberg's
skills at "mixing" multiple actions, the melodrama is quintessential
Hollywood stereotype: the man in charge of the war of course is also touched
personally by the war and eventually resigns to support his daughter (a noble
message for the Christmas holidays); the Mexican authorities are corrupted
and resort to torture, while, of course, the American authorities are serious
about fighting drugs (never mind that Americans just elected a president,
George W Bush, who used to be a cocaine user); a lonely Mexican police
officer manages to destroy the career of the corrupt general; and, dulcis
in fundo, the Americans reward him by donating Mexico a baseball field
(baseball, not soccer, as if anyone outside the US knew what baseball is);
and so forth.
Stephen Gaghan's script is full of stereotypes of the Hollywood
melodrama, that are somehow adapted to the circumstances.
It's Robert Altman without the caustic satire.
Soderbergh filmed it using colored lenses.
In the Mexico desert two police officers, Javier and Manolo, ambush drug
traffickers and arrest them. On the way back, they are surrounded by the
army, led by general Salazar in person. They have to surrender the prisoners
and the drugs.
In the US, Robert is a judge who has just been appointed the "drug czar",
in charge of coordinating the war against drugs.
In San Diego two police officers, Ray and his black buddy, frame a drug
dealer, Edoardo, a small catch but hopefully one who knows a lot.
Also in San Diego, a mother, Elena, is driving her child back home.
Back in the US, kids do drugs together. One of them is a girl, Caroline.
In Mexico, the general asks Javier to deliver him Frankie, a crook who
can lead him to the bosses of the cartel he has sworn to destroy.
The rival of that cartel, has died. By destroying the surviving druglord,
the general would have won the war against drugs in Mexico.
In San Diego, Ray and his buddy promise immunity to Edoardo is he testifies
against the local druglord. Edoardo accepts and minutes later the police
arrest a wealthy businessman, Carl, who is Elena's husband. Elena is shocked
to learn that he is implicated in criminal activities.
They live in a fantastic mansion.
Judge and new drug czar Bob returns home and is welcome by his loving wife and
his daughter Caroline, who is... one of the kids who were doing drugs.
Bob does not suspect anything, since Caroline is one of the
best students of her school.
Javier captures Frankie and delivers him to the general. The general's men
The kids are doing drugs again and this time one of them overdoses. The kids
panic. They load the body in a car and dump it in front of a hospital.
The police stops them and arrests all of them.
Carl's best friend Ernie visits Elena, who is still incredulous. Ernie tells
her that the house is bugged (true, Ray and his partner are listening) and
whispers that Carl smuggles drugs into the US from Mexico.
Caroline's parents are shocked but react in different ways: the mother would
like to forgive her (she also experimented in college), while the father
would like to punish her severely. Caroline starts doing drugs at home, in
The Mexican general finally extorts a confession from Frankie. Next day,
dozens of leaders of that cartel are arrested. Javier releases Frankie.
Judge Bob visits the border facilities. He is told that the druglords
overspend the whole budget of his department.
Bob decides that his counterpart in
Mexico is general Salazar and they should cooperate.
Nobody is his team gives him any useful idea on how to fight the drug war.
Bob is now very interested in treatment as well as fighting the war, but
soon finds out that nobody else is.
Elena is abandoned by all her wealthy friends.
Elena has always been surrounded by luxury and can't give up her lifestyle.
A man threatens to steal her child if she doesn't pay the money that her
husband owes them. Ernie is clearly more interested in Elena than in Carl.
Caroline does drugs with her boyfriend in a hotel room.
By order of the general, Javier takes a gorgeous girl to a mansion. Inside
the mansion, the girl hugs a much older man, his face covered with scars:
this is the druglord that was believed to be dead. Javier and his partner
Manolo realize that the general is working for him: the general has destroyed
the rival clan and now the surviving cartel can rule alone.
Bob has a bitter argument with his wife over their daughter and vents his
boredom for their domestic life. Bob catches Caroline doing drugs in her
bathroom and Caroline ends in therapy.
Elena finds her husband's microfilms that detail his business and his money.
Elena has secretely decided to become a criminal, if that is the price to
pay to keep their wealth.
Bob flies to Mexico and meets with Salazar. Bob asks Salazar what is his
suggestion for treatment: Salazar answer that drug addicts eventually overdose
and take care of themselves.
Manolo has decided to sell the information about the general's real goals
to the Americans.
Caroline runs away from the institute and sleeps with a drug dealer for drugs.
The trial against Carl is about to begin. Edoardo is the key witness. Now
Elena wants him dead and hires Frankie. Frankie puts a bomb under the police
car that is supposed to take him back to the hotel. But Edoardo decides to
walk. At the same time, a hitman has been paid to kill Frankie, punishment for
his cooperation with Salazar. Frankie is shot, Ray jumps in the car to chase
the killer, the car explodes, Ray dies.
Manolo is intercepted by Salazar's men. Both Manolo and Javier are taken to
the woods to be killed, but only Manolo is killed because Manolo tells them
Javier had nothing to do with it.
Bob is in the bad neighborhood of the drug dealers searching for his daughter.
Elena has found out the secret of her husband's dealings: a project to
build dolls out of cocaine. She drives to Mexico to offer a deal to the
leader of the cartel. In return, she wants Edoardo dead and to become the
exclusive US distributor of cocaine.
Javier crosses the border in the other direction and tells the Americans
everything he knows about Salazar. In return, he wants a baseball field
for the kids of his hometown.
Elena and Javier cross the border at the same time in opposite directions.
Bob and his wife find out that Caroline stole their jewels. Bob picks up
Caroline's boyfriend at school and forces him to tell him the address of
the drug dealer. But Caroline is not there. The kid tells the judge how
ridiculous his drug war is: there will be sellers for as long as there are
people willing to buy.
Javier tells Manolo's girlfriend that Manolo died a hero, to help bring down
Bob follows the kid and finds his daughter, drugged and naked, in a dirty room.
Edoardo is poisoned minutes before he has to testify at Carl's process.
Carl is free. Edoardo had just told Ray's buddy how pointless the drug war
is: there will always be people selling drugs and the police officers are
just wasting their time and their lives. The trial cannot continue and
Carl is released.
Javier leads the arrest of Salazar and his men. Salazar ends up in the
cell where he used to torture his prisoners and Javier sees him die.
Bon is introduced to the press as the new drug czar, but he doesn't have
the guts to do it and resigns.
Carl and Elena throw a big party to celebrate Carl's freedom.
During the party, Carl has Ernie killed for trying to steal his wife and
Ray's black buddy walks into the house and starts a fight. It is a pretext
for planting a mike under a table.
Caroline is on therapy again, but this time her parents are sitting right
next to her.
Javier watches a baseball game in his new baseball field.
Without all the stereotypes, it could have been a powerful drama that
shows parallel stories of involvement in the drug war. How drugs are
affecting different people in different ways: the honest politicians,
the corrupt politicians, the police officers, the small crooks, the
druglords, ordinary families and families of crooks. Everybody is in
the same boat. There are no winners: for one druglord who survives,
another one dies. For one police officer who will frame the druglord,
another one just died.
This is a war that just cannot be won.
Erin Brockovich (2000) was based on a true story.
Erin is a twice-divorced mother with three small children who is desperately
looking for a job. Instead she gets into a car accident and then misbehaves
in court so that she loses her case. Furious at the attorney, she asks him to
hire her as an assistant. When she's working, she has to hire the cheapest
babysitters, and one of them simply takes off leaving the children alone.
Luckily the odd-looking neighbor, George, is truly sincere in wanting to
become her friend and takes care of them. She gets excited about the case
of a family who is being asked by the utility company to sell their house.
She investigates and finds out that the utility company is trying to hide
a case of serious contamination. But she neglects her chores long enough
that the attorney fires her, and her unconventional attitude in the office
does not help. More desperate and disillusioned than ever,
she finds at home the only good news: George is fixing her plumbing, and
behaving like a nice husband and father. And this time he wins her heart too.
The next good news is that the attorney recognizes that she was onto something
and hires her back, with a salary increase. The utility initially laughs
at their request, and her boss would be happy to just settle for a lot of
money, but she wants the utility to be punished for poisoning poor families
and causing cancer. She is stubborn and disrespectful of her boss, but
eventually she always gets it her way. As she collects more and more
testimonies, she becomes the protagonist of
the biggest litigation in the firm's history, a determined crusader.
Unfortunately, this costs her George: feeling that he has now become
merely a babysitter, he leaves her.
Her boss decides to partner with a larger firm, whose style of course Erin can
hardly stand. And the larger firm decides to avoid the full trial because
they lack the evidence to link the corporate offices of the utility company
to the branch that poisoned the water. Then a man shows up who tells Erin
he destroyed documents when he used to work for the utility company.
That's the final straw to win a huge amount for the families.
Erin's boss can expand his firm, Erin gets a managerial office and a huge
bonus, and George returns.
Ocean's Eleven (2001), a loose remake of Lewis Milestone's
Ocean's 11 (1960),
is a stereotypical heist movie, but with enough twists to make it stand out
in an inflated genre.
Released from prison, Danny Ocean recruits old acquaitances from all over the country to stage the casino heist of the century.
They plan it like clockwork with massive investment of time and money,
but at some point they found out the hidden motive behind Ocean's plan:
the owner of the three casinos that he wants to rob is the man who stole
his sexy wife Tess.
This casino owner is also dynamiting a landmark casino, a symbol of the old
Danny even confronts her at a restaurant table but she
has only hard feelings for him.
The heist plan includes building an exact replica of the vault where the money
Several hiccups threaten to kill their plan but they overcome them.
They even steal a scientific instrument that can simulate a nuclear explosion
and thus take out the electricity of the whole city.
When the plan is set in action, Danny is still stalking his wife around the casino, pretending to just say goodbye. The bodyguards escort it to the office
of the casino owner who wants to have a talk with him. It is actually part of
Danny's plan becauses he has bribed one of the bodyguards to pretend
to beat him up when instead he's helping him get into the ventilation
system. Even his partners are surprised when Danny shows up to help.
The owner and Tess are watching a boxing game in the casino with thousands of
The older member of the team simulates a heart attack and his own death to distract the guards.
The fake bombs takes down the electricity for a few seconds in the whole city wreaking havoc in both the casino and the ring, and giving Danny time to enter
the vault. An acrobat hides inside a money container and jumps like a spider
around the vault without touching the floor.
As members of the team complete their
task (including the resurrected dead), they join the one who is watching
everything on cameras that they have installed around the basement.
they call the casino owner and tell him to watch the heist live on his monitors
and then blackmail him into actually helping the thieves carry half of
the money out in return for leaving him the other half untouched.
Tess easily guesses who's behind the heist.
The casino owner obviously calls the police to arrest the thieves as they
walk out. But something goes wrong because the vault is bombed and no thieves
are found inside. Then
the casino owner realizes that what he was watching on his monitors
was staged in a replica of the vault: what we saw too was partly simply a
"movie" made in the replica.
When the casino owner called the police, the phone call was intercepted,
and the police officers were no others than the real thieves who were escorted
by the casino staff into the vaultand picked up the bags prepared by Danny
and his men.
The casino owner asks to be taken to the room where Danny is being beaten
by the bribed bodyguards. Danny just crawled back there and is indeed being
beaten by the friendly bodyguard.
Tess gets a call that asks her to watch live on tv the conversation between
the two men.
Danny offers to give back the money if the casino owner gives up Tess:
the casino owner agrees with no hesitation.
Having witnessed the real heart of her lover,
Tess leaves the casino and sees the police officers are arresting her ex
husband Danny for violating his parole (the only crime they can pin on him).
He is smiling though: he got what he wanted, which was to prove
to her who really loves her. His partners are free and rich and take off.
Months later Danny gets released and his wife Tess is waiting for him outside.
However, two bodyguards of the casino owner are following them in a car...
Ocean's Twelve (2004) and Ocean's Thirteen (2007)
were the inevitable sequels.
The decade was devoted to many different genres but the results were mostly
Full Frontal (2002),
written by Coleman Hough,
made with a digital videocamera,
possibly his worst movie;
a new adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's novel than pales in comparison with
Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 classic;
Bubble (2005), again written by Coleman Hough,
a working class portrait filmed with non-professional actors,
mainly notable for being the first film ever to be simultaneously released in in theaters and on DVD and on-demand;
The Good German (2006), an old-fashioned World War II noir, set in Berlin during the summer of 1945, that apes Curtiz's Casablanca, shot in the style of black-and-white movies of that era;
the biopic Che (2008), his longest and most ambitious film.
Soderbergh then directed two films
realistic dramas in the style of Martin Scorsese:
The Girlfriend Experience (2009)
and the satirical The Informant (2009).
And Everything Is Going Fine (2010) is a documentary
about the life of actor Spalding Gray, six years after his death.
Contagion (2011) is an apocalyptic thriller.
The film begins on day 2 when a John calls his lover, a blonde named Beth,
who is leaving from the airport of Chicago and coming from Hong Kong..
Meanwhile, a kid is getting very sick in Hong Kong and is run
over by a truck. A girl gets sick in London.
A businessman in Tokyo collapses on a bus.
In San Francisco an aspiring reporter,
Alan, tries desperately to sell the story of a man dying in a bus but
the tv station is skeptic.
A happy family in Minnesota is waiting for the return of Beth.
At the most advanced center in the world for disease control in Atlanta
a female scientist is getting on the case.
Beth, just returned from her Hong Kong trip, is caughtt by seizures and dies
suddenly. The husband has hardly time to understand what happened that his
child also dies suddenly.
At the World Health Organization the experts are already aware of the deadly
disease that is killing people. They know it comes from the
most densely populated region in the world.
At the autopsy of Beth the doctors are shocked to find that her brain had
been devastated by the virus.
The hudband is hospitalized with the same symptoms but survives: his
immune system is the rare case who fights the virus.
The number of deaths keeps increasing. The government
fear a biological attack.
The female doctor in charge of the case realizes that it is necessary
to track down everybody who came in touch with Beth.
Trying to understand how she spread it to Chicago, where John died, she
learns from the husband that John was her former lover: the husband understands
that she was still cheating on him.
A scientist in San Francisco, stalked by Alan the aspiring reporter,
is told to stop doing his research on the virus because it is too dangerous
but he persists and manages to grow the virus. Now they can use the husband
to produce vaccine.
There are now eight million people infected.
The female doctor catches the disease and dies.
Meanwhile another woman, Leonora, is investigating how Beth got it in Hong Kong.
She tracks it down to a casino, and watches the video of Beth.
We finally see what happened on day one, when Beth landed and called John
because she had a few hours free. The Chinese men who escort her believe that
the USA has the vaccine and keeps it secret. They kidnap her to keep her
as a hostage until her government finds a cure... and gives it to them.
Back home the female doctor is dying.
The authorities are still trying to leep the epidemics secret so that the
population does not panic, but the chief scientist, the boss of the female
tells his daughter to get out of town as fast as possible
and the word spreads quickly.
People loot stores and pharmacies.
Alan is also an amateur biologist and is experimenting his own potion.
The army shuts down the entire region that is plunging into chaos.
On television the chief doctor is confronted by the amateur journalist
who has figured out that the panic started from him.
Two million people have now died. The president of the country is hiding in
a secret location. Curfews are in effect.
Beth's husband gets a gun.
The female doctor who is developing the vaccine decides to test it on herself.
But it will take months to manufacture enough of it. Meanwhile twenty million
people have died.
Alan, unmasked as a charlatan, gets arrested, but then released by popular demand.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers in China are preparing to swap their hostage (the
woman who was investigating) for one hundred doses of the vaccine.
But then the official tells Leonora that it gave them a fake, and Leonora
decides to stay with them.
The vaccine works. More and more people return to normal life. The husband's
daughter can finally go out with her boyfriend. But the man is still devastated
by the double loss of his wife (she died and she was cheating on him) and of
Magic Mike (2012) is an intriguing character study about a male stripper
(a real person, Channing Tatum, before he became an actor) that feels like a
Martin Scorsese film but with a rather sentimental ending.
Mike is a male stripper performing in the club of his friend Dallas.
It is June. He has an affair with a young woman named Joanna.
He also has a regular job working for foreman Sal to install roofs.
It's on this job that he meets a 19-year-old kid in search of a job, Adam.
But Adam gets fired right away because he is caught stealing.
Adam lives temporarily with his sister Brooke, who has a regular job and
a regular boyfriend, Paul. Brooke asks Adam to meet Paul who may find him
a job but Paul is boring and Adam leaves the meeting rudely.
Adam and Mike meet again at a disco where Mike knows the bouncer. Mike gets him inside and they approach two girls, Carla and Liz, who are students on
vacation. Mike invites them to attend his show and so Adam learns that Mike
is a male stripper when he's not a construction worker.
They move to Dallas' club, where Adam is assigned a small backstage role.
During the show, however, Dallas needs something to excite the crowd and
Mike has the idea to throw the virgin Adam on stage. It's a success.
Later Mike and Adam spend the night with Carla and Liz and at sunrise they
dive into the sea from a bridge. Dallas begins to train Adam to make him
a male stripper nicknamed "Magic Mike". Brooke finds his costume and Adam
has to confess to her his new job. Brooke attends one of his performances
and Mike can tell that she's not amused.
Mike wants to start his own business but tries in vain to get a loan from
the bank: he doesn't have enough credit because his income is all cash.
Brooke gets invited to a beach party with the strippers and Mike is
clearly attracted to her. He promises to watch over her little brother Adam.
At the beach Mike and Brooke run into Mike's on and off girlfriend Joanna,
who gets introduced as a psychology student who has conducted a behavior
analysis of the strippers.
After another show, Mike brings home a stoned Adam and finds Brooke with
her boyfriend Paul. Mike goes home and feels lonely. He calls Joanna and
has sex with her. After another show Dallas announces to the male strippers
that he has managed to purchase a better, larger venue in the big city of
Adam is getting more and more excited about the lifestyle of the stripper,
with plenty of money, drugs and girls, while Mike instead is getting
tired and lonely. Mike calls Joanna but she doesn't want him anymore,
while Adam is indulging in a little orgy with his friend Ken and a new girl,
Mike sees Brooke again and tells her that his dream is to start a business of
Mike and Adam, dressed like police officers, perform for a private party at a sorority house full of ecstatic female students.
Adam offers a pill of ecstasy to one of the girls. When her boyfriend arrives
and finds out, he attacks Adam. Mike has to support Adam knocking out a
few of the boys. Mike and Adam run out half-naked. Adam confesses to Mike that
is started selling drugs on behalf of Dallas' dj Tobias.
On the way to meet Dallas, Mike sees Joanna with a man and she reveals that he
is her fiance Ryan: Mike is thunderstruck.
When they meet Dallas, Dallas is angry that they didn't collect payment
from the sorority girls, and Tobias is angry with Adam that he left behind his
backpack full of pills.
Mike and Dallas spar for the first time. Dallas humiliates Mike telling him
that he is not getting any younger and doesn't have any choice but working
Mike and Adam take drugs and spend the night in a dance-club.
Mike sleeps with a girl. Adam feels sick and calls Brooke.
Brooke runs to the beach house where they are and finds Adam unconscious on the floor
and yells hysterical at Mike, holding him responsible.
When finally Adam awakens, she takes him home and tells him that he has to
end that life. Meanwhile, Mike is alone at the beach house.
Suddenly Tobias and two men show up looking for Adam. Tobias informs Mike
that Adam's backpack contained a huge amount of drugs, and the drug dealer
wants to be paid cash immediately. Realizing that Adam is risking his life,
Mike decides to pay from his own savings, the money that he was saving to
start his business.
Mike looks for Adam at Brooke's place but Adam has moved in with Mora.
Mike tries to mend the friendship with Brooke and apologizes for not
protecting Adam better, but Brooke is cold and indifferent.
Adam finds Mike at the beach and promises to pay back the money.
Adam is grateful to Mike for introducing him to that new lifestyle.
Mike is sad to hear that.
Dallas holds the last show in their home town before moving to Miami.
While Dallas is entertaining the delirious audience, Mike abandons the club.
When Dallas learns that Mike is gone, he promotes Adam to top dancer.
Mike drives to Brooke's place in the middle of the night to tell her
that he quit stripping.
Brooke apologizes for being rude: she just learned that Mike paid Adam's
debt with his life's savings.
Brooke is moved, tells him that she broke with Paul, and invites him to have breakfast at a restaurant that opens in seven hours. She implies that they have
seven hours to kill. The camera moves away and we see her kissing him.
Haywire (2012) is mediocre spy thriller of sorts with some of the
most tedious martial-arts fights ever. The film tours the world in a few days
and delivers one cliche' after the other. There is little suspense even if one
manages to follow the plot. The characters are bland and one-dimensional, never
properly introduced. It doesn't help that the white males all look alike.
Mallory meets a man named Aaron at a diner. Aaron has been ordered to drive
Mallory somewhere but she refuses to get into his car. Aaron tries to use
force but Mallory easily knocks him out. She then runs out with a kid who tried
to help her and drives his car, the kid meekly sitting in the passenger's seat.
While she's driving, she tells him her story.
The flashback begins, and every now then we see Mallory in the present telling
the kid to memorize the names and places she mentions.
A CIA agent (Michael Douglas) and a shady Spanish man named Rodrigo (Antonio Banderas) talk to Mallory's boss Kenneth and ask to have Mallory work on a special
assignment in Barcelona. Mallory and Aaron travel to Barcelona, rescue
a Chinese man called Jiang who is being detained in an apartment, and deliver him
When she returns to the USA, Kenneth, who every now and then is also her lover,
gives her a new assignment. She is flown to Dublin where she meets a new
partner, Paul, a British secret agent. They attend a party where they meet
Studer. Later she follows Paul and Studer as they chat and discovers the
corpse of Jiang. Someone put in Jiang's hand her brooch, obviously to frame her
for the murder. Later at the hotel Paul tries to kill her but, again, she uses
her martial arts skills to overpower him and then coldly kills him.
She calls Kenneth from Paul's phone and realizes that Kenneth is the one who
wants her dead. She flees the hotel but is chased through the streets of Dublin
by a mysterious man and then by the police. After several acrobatic jumps, she
manages to lose them and makes a threatening phone call to Rodrigo, who then
reports it to the CIA agent.
The CIA agent figures out how to call Mallory and tells her that he doesn't trust Kenneth and wants her to help him figure out who Kenneth works for, really.
The flashback ends because now she's back in the USA and we saw what happened
when she was trying to meet Kenneth.
The police are chasing Mallory and the kid. Mallory virtually destroys the kid's car trying to lose the police cars but they are eventually captured.
Mallory overhears a radio call that tells the police officers to deliver her
to a specific place. She tries in vain to warn the cops that it's a fake call
and a trap. The cops are killed by Kenneth's thugs. Again, Mallory
manages to escape and heads for her father's house in New Mexico.
Kenneth, Aaron and other thugs interrogate her father pretending to be cops.
Mallory is there and overhears the conversation. She texts a photograph of the dead Jiang to Aaron, who then realizes that Kenneth sold Jiang to someone else who killed him.
Kenneth shoots Aaron, who demands the truth, Mallory kills the other two thugs, but Kenneth flees in time.
Mallory meets the CIA agent, who tells her where Kenneth is hiding and offers her
a job at the CIA. She doesn't give him an answer because she first wants her
revenge. She tracks down Kenneth in Mexico and makes him confess that
Jiang was a protected witness who was going to testify against Studer, and Rodrigo delivered him to Studer so Studer could kill him.
Mallory was supposed to be killed by Paul and blamed for Jiang's murder.
Mallory lets Kenneth drown and then flies to Mallorca where she tracks down
Rodrigo. When she jumps in front of him, he, knowing that she's there to kill him, simply says: "Shit!"
Behind the Candelabra (2013) is a diligent biopic of pianist Wladziu Liberace.
The psychological thriller Side Effects (2013)
ridiculed the pharmaceutical industry while treading in
Brian DePalma's territory.
The heist comedy Logan Lucky (2017), filmed in strong colors, returned to the crime-thriller genre of
Traffic and Ocean's Eleven, also from an existential angle.
The "hero" of the heist is an ordinary man who is cursed with bad luck.
Jimmy is fixing his car and chatting with his daughter Sadie,
who is scheduled to rehearse for a beauty pageant.
He is a construction worker currently working on a tunnel.
He is laid off because of a pre-existing condition on his leg that he didn't disclose when he was hired: he limps.
Jimmy drives to his sister Mellie, who is still single and works in a hair-dresser salon.
Mellie reminds him that he missed Sadie's rehearsal. Mellie tried to call him
but Jimmy doesn't like cell phones and hasn't paid the bill.
Jimmy then drives to his ex-wife's home.
Bobbie Jo lives with her new husband Moody, a car salesman, and his two little sons, and they are selling the house to move to another town. The town is far enough that Jimmy doesn't want to give his consent.
Jimmy then drives to a bar where his brother Clyde is the bartender.
Clyde is a war veteran who lost an arm in the war.
He is a pessimistic who firmly believes that their family is cursed, but Jimmy
points out that nothing bad ever happened to their sister Mellie.
An obnoxious TV personality, Max, enters the bar and starts making fun of Clyde's
arm. Jimmy attacks him but is beaten by Max's two friends.
Meanwhile, Clyde sets fire on their car.
Jimmy walks away calling Clyde a "cauliflower."
It's a code word between the two.
The following morning Jimmy tells Clyde that he plans to rob a car race, the "Speedway".
It turns out that during his work in the tunnel Jimmy learned that the "Speedway" sends cash down to the bank vault via a system of underground tubes.
He just needs a someone who can blow up the vault. They visit a convict in
prison, Joe, who is a legendary safe-cracker.
Joe is not interested in the job because he thinks he has money hidden away,
but Clyde informs him that his wife ran away with the money and a trucker.
Jimmy and Clyde promise to get Joe out of jail in broad daylight and return
him later without anyone noticing.
Joe accepts on the condition that his two dumb brothers get involved,
Sam and Fish. The two brothers claim that they are now on the right side of the law and so need a moral reason to steal. Jimmy and Clyde easily come up with a reason.
Then Clyde drives his car into a store in order to get arrested and sent to jail (comically, the officer doesn't know how to handcuff a man without an arm).
Meanwhile, Jimmy runs into a female doctor who notices his wounds and offers to give him a free tetanus shot. He doesn't remember her but he remembers him:
they went to the same highschool. Sylvia runs a mobile clinic that is running out of money.
Jimmy learns from his old boss that work in the tunnel is ending, which
means that they have to move up the heist by one week, i.e. do it on one of the busiest races of the year.
Jimmy knows that a jungle of tubes runs in the tunnel. To determine which ones are the tubes used by the Speedway, Mellie prepares
a birthday cake filled with cockroaches and they have it delivered to a hapless employee who works at the vault, so that the cockroaches can infiltrate the tubes leading to the vault.
Meanwhile, in prison Joe asks fellow convict Naaman to start a riot and then pretends to be sick so he can be escorted by convict Clyde to the restrooms, where they hide.
The riot begins, and Joe and Clyde escape unnoticed while
Joe's brothers blow up the electrical equipment of the venue so that every store of the venue must accept cash only (no credit cards), and the cash will travel down the tubes identified by the cockroaches.
The car race starts.
Jimmy leads Clyde and Joe to the tube room. Joe creates an explosive to blow up the wall between the tube and the vault. They use a vacuum pump to suck up the cash coming from the tube but accidentally suck up also Clyde's prosthetic arm.
Clyde would like them to stop and search for his prosthetic arm but Joe and his brothers want to finish the job. This causes tension with Jimmy, who is reluctant to be seen as insensitive to his brother Clyde.
Eventually they all agree to get the money and leave.
Sam and Fish load garbage bags containing the cash into Jimmy's truck.
Two security guards who are inspecting the premises are totally useless to stop them.
However, Jimmy and Clyde run into Max who is arguing with a pilot, and Max
Clyde can't resist and punches him in the face. Clyde and Joe sneak back into the prison disguised as firefighters dispatched to deal with a kitchen fire that the prisoners set
Then Joe and Clyde sneak back into the prison disguised as firemen.
Meanwhile Mellie and Bobbie Jo are preparing little Sadie for her pageant
performance. Jimmy drives in his truck to the venue of the pageant and arrives
just in time.
On the way back, Jimmy stops at a gas station, abandons his truck and hitches
a ride from a truck driver.
Back home, Jimmy burns all the evidence and calls the police anonymously
telling them where to find the money of the heist.
The investigation is assigned to a female agent, Sarah.
Max immediately volunteers information about having met Clyde and Jimmy in the
tunnel during the heist, but Sarah can't use his testimony because Max's pilot, pissed at Max, denies ever entering the tunnel with him.
And Clyde was in prison that day.
Sarah interrogates the prison warden, but the prison warden hides the riot because it would be bad publicity, and claims that it would be impossible for Clyde to leave the prison and come back.
Six months later Joe is released from prison and immediately visits Clyde at the bar.
Clyde claims he hasn't talked to Jimmy since.
Jimmy has moved where his ex-wife moved in order to stay near his daughter.
Sarah is still investigating after hearing that Speedway has received money
from the insurance for some money that was never recovered. She is curious
how much it is but the corporation refuses to tell her.
Back home, Joe finds a surprise: he realizes that someone has been digging in
his backyard and finds a garbage bag full of money: the missing money.
We see flashbacks of the heist and Jimmy and Mellie hide some bags of money
in the garbage cans of the tunnels.
Sylvia, the doctor of the mobile hospital, receives a letter with an
an anonymous donation.
Naaman, released from prison, finds an envelop full of money.
The employee who was fooled by the birthday cake receives a cake box full of money.
One night, Jimmy travels back to Clyde's bar and meets Sylvia, who is now his girlfriend. Joe and Mellie are also there. A stranger who claims is thinking to
move there is watching them from the other side of the bar: it's Sarah the inspector, intent on becoming a friend of Clyde.
The horror movie Unsane (2018) was another classy film, although largely predictable and with
nods to Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor and Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
High Flying Bird (2019), scripted by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and
shot entirely with an iPhone,
is pretty boring, unless you know are very familiar with the politics of
US basketball and care about it.
It is also often verbose, a fact that kills whatever momentum it has.
It is even difficult to figure out the motivations of the characters when they
do what they do.
Less talk more action would have been welcome.
At best this is a diligent expose' of crooked business that exploits athletes.
Ray, a high-end agent, is having lunch with his client Erick, an inexperienced
basketball player who got in trouble borrowing money that he cannot repay
because the league has been stopped by a lockout (the teams don't let the
Ray gives rookie Erick a package to be opened when the time comes.
When Ray tries to pay, he is told that is credit card has been declined.
He doesn't even have money to hire a taxi and has to walk many blocks to
reach his office. The boss of the sports agency tells him that, due to the lockout, business is bad and his salary is being frozen.
Ray's ex-wife Myra, an executive of the players association, tells him that no agreement to end the lockout is in sight.
His former assistant Sam, who has always admired his devotion to work,
offers her help to end the lockout.
Ray visits the mother of a promising player, Jamero, but she is a
self-confident business woman who doesn't need Ray's help.
Erick and Jamero get into a verbal fight on social media.
Sam sleeps with Erick.
Ray, whose cousin was a famous player before dying, attends a traditional yearly charity event for black aspiring basketball players and gives an inspirational talk.
Erick is the guest of honor.
Jamero arrives with his mother.
Erick and Jamero get into another argument.
Jamero's mom challenges Erick to play Jamero, one on one.
We are not shown the game, nor who wins.
The kids are thrilled to watch two professional players, record the game
and post it online. The video goes viral.
Ray asks Myra about the legal implications: in theory professional players
cannot appear anywhere without the approval of their teams.
Ray calls a press conference claiming that he set up the two players and
this amateur video is the future.
Ray then talks Erick into the potentially disruptive power of streaming
such amateur games to social media: all money will go straight to the athletes.
Ray tells his old friend, trainer Spencer, that he wants to
put control back in the hands of the athletes.
Dave, representative of the teams, shows up in Myra's office, ready to make
a deal and end the lockout. A flashback shows what happened two days earlier:
Dave met with Ray in a sauna and then met with his organization, and everybody
is afraid of Ray's streaming idea and of possible copycats.
Sam, who has slept the night with Erick, informs Ray that Erick has decided
Sam is still supportive of Erick's efforts.
Erick fires Ray and Ray wishes him good luck.
Myra and Dave reach an agreement, the lockout ends, the league can restart.
Ray's plan to end the lockout has succeeded in just 72 hours.
Ray explains to his boss David that his threat to start the streaming business was just a bluff.
And then Ray explains to his boss David that... he is fired: Ray has been promoted to his position.
Sam moves in with Erick and, while he's taking a shower,
opens the package that Ray gave him at the beginning: there's a book
inside, titled "The Revolt of the Black Athlete".
And then she tells Erick to read it. It's a book about the black athletes who
in 1968 protested against the US anthem at the Olympic games.
The Laundromat (2019), written by Scott Burns, was
a sort of sociopolitical thriller a` la Traffic but
about the Panama Papers.
Let Them All Talk (2020), written by Deborah Eisenberg was another mediocre movie that the director and the actors mostly improvised.