The 88th Academy Awards will be held on February 28, 2016. Honoring many of the best American films of 2015, it therefore follows that the Brattle is taking time out of Oscar weekend to screen the best American film of the year, MAGIC MIKE XXL. Gregory Jacobs’s film is the artfully shameless sequel to Steven Soderbergh’s (who serves as XXL’s editor/cinematographer) 2012 clever wrapping of a male stripper movie around a recession-era cautionary tale about young people trying to sort their lives out. You can applaud Soderbergh’s film for its intelligence and even-handed approach to the world it depicts, but in the overwhelming warmth and celebration of love, both of the friendship and physical kind, I find that MAGIC MIKE XXL is the movie I wanted MAGIC MIKE to be.
Tag: Steven Soderbergh
Back in spring of 2012, the fuss for Steven Soderbergh’s MAGIC MIKE was accumulating. The trailers were met with an enthusiastic response from straight women and gay men. The film was marketed as a “girls night out” sex comedy, with lots of hunky male stars taking their clothes off. Of course, the film had some backlash—mostly from straight guys complaining about “male objectification” and how the movie looked stupid. Coming from an auteur like Soderbergh, known for TRAFFIC, SEX, LIES & VIDEOTAPE, and OCEAN’S ELEVEN, the film had a weird target audience. Half the audience wanted to see the abs and the dance moves; the other half wanted some Soderbergh goodness. To be fair, there is probably a decent sized overlap between the two halves.
There is a word for those who try to control their surroundings beyond the capacity of a single human being: neurotic. This adjective is commonly associated with psychoanalytic theory, and particularly Freud, who believed that neuroses developed as a result of the repression of psychosexual urges. I would suggest, not unreasonably, that it is this same word that lurks in both the latent and manifest content of Steven Soderbergh’s debut feature, SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE. There is no doubt in my mind that Freud would have fawned over this 1989 film. With a budget of less than $2 million, Soderbergh managed to create a powerful study of sexuality that masterfully utilizes dialogue and set design to convey the film’s central themes. In particular, I found that the director’s emphasis on recurring visual and aural motifs lends SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE much of its subliminal impact.