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New Escapist Column! On “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” as a Story of Love In the Time of Capitalism…

We’re launching a new column at The Escapist, called Out of Focus. It will publish every second Wednesday, and the plan is to use it to look at some film and television that would maybe fall outside the remit of In the Frame, more marginal titles or objects of cult interest. This week, we took a look at Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike’s Last Dance.

In interviews around the film, Soderbergh has returned time and against to thirties romances as a point of reference, and it shows. Magic Mike’s Last Dance is movie very firmly tied to the traditions and roots of those classic romances, right down to making the butler a supporting character. As with a lot of Soderbergh’s recent films, Magic Mike’s Last Dance is a movie fascinated with commodification and globalisation, in particular the idea of the packaging and selling of intimacy and emotional connection. It’s a film about sex, power and money – and the intersection of those three things.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Non-Review Review: Magic Mike XXL

Well, if you’re going to do a sequel, it’s not a bad bet to go bigger.

Magic Mike XXL is a film that knows exactly what its audience wants, making a point to emphasise that this same attribute is what makes the “male entertainers” at the heart of the film so special. At one point, young heart throb Ken serenades his audience with a D’Angelo’s Untitled (How Does It Feel?), perfectly setting for the tone. Magic Mike XXL knows what its viewers are demanding, and dedicates itself to shamelessly satisfying their needs. The audience wants more, and they get more.

The problem with Magic Mike XXL is that it goes just a little bit too big. Bigger is not always better, as “male entertainer” (“Big”) Dick Richie discovers, spending the entire movie searching for the metaphorical “glass slipper.” The original Magic Mike ran a little bit too long at ten minutes short of two hours. Magic Mike XXL extends that runtime by twenty minutes. The result is a film that feels rather bloated. The pacing could be tighter. Some trimming and cutting might have served the film well.

Nevertheless, Magic Mike XXL maintains a lot of the charm and positive energy that made the original such a surprise hit. There is nothing wrong with trying to please your audience, even if there is such a thing as too much teasing.

Is the magic back?

Is the magic back?

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That One Role: Seeing a Star Differently…

I saw Magic Mike last week. And I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. Part of the fun of the film was revelling in a superb performance from Matthew McConaughey as the incredibly sleazy manager Dallas. Watching the film, I found it almost hard to believe that this was the same Matthew McConaughey who had headlined such nightmares as Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Sahara, Failure to Launch, The Wedding Planner, Fool’s Gold and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, to keep the list brief. It’s amazing how one performance can really change your opinion of an actor’s abilities, serving as something of a revelation of talent and ability that maybe you had never really seen before.

It’s a kind of magic…

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Non-Review Review: Magic Mike

Magic Mike has a lightness of touch that’s been missing from a lot of Steven Soderbergh’s recent work. It’s nowhere near as ambitious as Contagion was, but that isn’t necessary a bad thing from the perspective of the film about male stripper living a rock and roll lifestyle. While Magic Mike won’t get any marks for originality, it does manage to feature two impressive performances and has a refreshing sense of “fun”about it. It a solidly entertaining and diverting piece of entertainment, executed with considerable skill that helps distract from its relatively conventional nature.

It’s getting hot in here…

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