If "Haywire" was so expertly crafted around the way Gina Carano moves, much of "Magic Mike" is crafted around the way Channing Tatum moves, and holy hell can that boy dance. Instead of Soderbergh's usual bait-and-switch using A-list casts with uniquely selected side players and tantalizing stories to lure audiences in to less-accessible-than-expected affairs (not that this tendency is a bad thing in my opinion, considering my thoughts on his prior three career-crowning features), The director strikes a perfect balance between his ever daring "indie" characteristics and his more crowd-pleasing mainstream sensibilities to create a film that really earns its merit as a spiritual successor to "Boogie Nights" (it hits just about all the same key plot points, becoming particularly good when it veers toward more bitter material) and a "girls' night" phenomenon. Of course the A-list cast is still present - after this whirlwind year Tatum is surely close to being considered as much, and meanwhile Matthew McConaughey delivers one of his better performances in an opporunity to one-up Matt Damon's notoriously hilarious "Late Show" immitation - and we have a unique cast of supporters indeed, from up-and-comers such as the superb Cody Horn to recognized faces like Gabriel Iglesias and Kevin Nash. And speaking of girls' nights, I do have a slight bit of a personal investment in this film now. I have been working around the clock to create a premiere event for the cinema I work for (the first of many - "The Dark Knight Rises" midnight premiere being the next), and so far it has been a major success (one more day to go!). Big thanks go out to my former editor-in-chief Julie Rabbani with Threads & Feathers, Pierre and Sexy D at Retro Fitness, Kurt and Matt our models, Danielle at NBC, Kathy, Alisa and Brittany at the local paper, and of course everyone I work with at the cinema for helping make this thing a hit. Thank goodness it's centered around a good movie!
Like his contemporaries - others of the young group that took the last decade by storm - Paul Thomas Anderson and Sophia Coppola, with his latest Wes Anderson seems to be taking a step of maturation. Thing is, while I do greatly like films like "There Will Be Blood" and "Somewhere", they don't represent what I like about their creators. Now, with precise blocking in carefully composed shots, signature dialogue stylings and parent/child themes directly relating to expression through material belongings, "Moonrise Kingdom" is very Wes, no doubt about it, but it seems to subdue what we love about the man's work in effort to find middle ground between his stranger (IE "The Life Aquatic") and more grounded offerings (IE "The Royal Tenenbaums"). I suppose it's cute that the film becomes an action/adventure flick (complete with Bruce Willis as the cop) only in the robes of a quaint Boy Scouts summer camp, and it is certainly not without its uniquely relatable moments of puppy love or affecting characterizations (Bill Murray's hopeless father as a standout), but upon first viewing "Moonrise Kingdom" is not, for me, in the realm of Wes' best. Then, that best is an immensely high standard to be held to.
Rewatches (3): The Darjeeling Limited (W. Anderson, 2007); Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete (Nomura, 2009); Rango (Verbinski, 2011)
Episodic Television (1): Up All Night (Pilot - Working Late & Working It)
- There seems no end to the repetition of new parent humor in entertainment media, but I've really got to hand it to "Up All Night" - something particularly relatable has been tapped in to here, generating winningly hilarious results for modern parents. Maya Rudolph continues to be one of the best comedic actresses working today.
Episodic Television Rewatches (3): 30 Rock (The Break-Up - MILF Island); Community (Basic Lupine Urology); Louie (Travel Day/South; Bully)