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Dancing on the Edge of a Blade (Runner): Prometheus & Hyper-Intertextuality

Prometheus arrived on blu ray last week. I’m a big fan of the movie, despite the palpable sense of disappointment generated on its arrival – I suspect that I was wise not to expect answers, and instead to enough the movie for what it was. I’m not alone in considering the film’s ties to Alien to be among its weakest elements, forcing the movie to tie into something that had been a massive movie mystery for decades, rather than allowing it to be its own thing. However, it has emerged that Ridley Scott apparently hoped the movie could go further than that. Reportedly, the director had hoped that it could serve as something akin to “connective tissue” to tie together two of his most definitive science-fiction universes. Apparently, the director wanted to set the film in the same world as Blade Runner.

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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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Non-Review Review: Solaris

Can you tell me what’s happening here?

I could tell you what’s happening, but I don’t know if it would really tell you what’s happening.

– Chris Kelvin and Snow

Soderbergh’s Solaris is bold, challenging, brilliant, chaotic, unstructured, clever, obtuse, dense, frustrating, unsatisfying and fascinating. Frequently at the same time. The director’s adaptation of Andrei Tarkovsky’s incredibly dense science-fiction feature might not necessarily be for everybody, but there’s enough substance here for eager audience members to chew on. A film subscribing to the idea that less is more, it seems to take more joy in posing questions than in answering them. This will obviously frustrate those viewers who dislike that sort of ambiguity.

Well suited to this drama...

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Haywire Geography: Soderbergh’s Dublin…

It’s rare to see Ireland in a big American film. Of course, I mean the real Ireland, as opposed the “begosh and begorrah” nonsense that we’re treated to in crap like Leap Year, where we’re all a bunch of hicks with silly accents and farmer’s caps. While Ireland has made itself an attractive filming location for films like Braveheart or television shows like The Tudors, I am more referring to movies sit in and around our country in the present day. So not only was it a joy to see Steven Soderbergh set his espionage thriller Haywire in the city where I live and work, it was even better to see it so perfectly released and efficiently captured.

Going back the Hueston...

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Non-Review Review: Haywire

Steven Soderbergh is an interesting film maker. Even when his films don’t really come together as well as one might hope, you can’t help but admire some of his bold ambition. Contagion was probably one of the boldest major releases of last year, and it was always fascinating even when it was just short of brilliance. Haywire falls into a similar trap, with some nice ideas, some great scenes, but nothing that really melds into a particularly compelling film. Indeed, Soderbergh’s spy thriller is messy, undoubted as the director intended – but it doesn’t seem like a highly-energised kinetic mess so much as poorly-plotted and muddled mess. The result is a film that is occasionally invigorating, but also quite infuriating.

On top of it...

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The Virtue of Ambitious Failure…

When I was compiling my “top twelve” list for 2011, there were a lot of films contending for a place on that list. I felt bad about having to leave off stuff like We Need to Talk About Kevin and Preludio and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. However, I didn’t find myself trying to justify the inclusion of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, despite the fact that I found the film completely and utterly compelling. I’ll be the first to concede that Soderbergh’s disease epic had some fairly considerable flaws, too many for me to legitimately rank it “one of the best of the year”, and yet I think it’s one of those movies I couldn’t stop thinking about. What it is it about an ambitious failure that makes it so much more fascinating than a modest success?

Figuring out the formula...

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Non-Review Review: Ocean’s Thirteen

I have a soft spot for Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Thirteen. Yes, it’s big and vacuous and ultimately empty, with a bunch of celebrities sitting around and enjoying each other’s company, but it’s also fun and diverting, composed by a director with a wonderful eye. I’d argue that it’s almost as solid as Ocean’s Eleven, and a damn sight stronger than Ocean’s Twelve.

In con men circles, that would be called "the Selleck"...

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