REVIEW: Haywire

Haywire
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Lem Dobbs (screenplay)
Starring: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender and Michael Douglas

Like a virus that won’t go away, Mallory (Gina Carano) jumps around the globe, slowing down or killing anything that gets in her path.  That is largely where the narrative similarities between her story and the one from director Steven Soderbergh’s last film, Contagion, end though.

Haywire is curious when placed with the rest of his catalog in that it focuses on a single individual but also contains a large ensemble cast.  Usually his films are one (Erin Brockovich) or the other (Traffic).  At the center of this semi-departure is MMA fighter Gina Carano, who Soderbergh saw fighting on TV and decided to build a movie around.  Carano’s ferociously physical performance as Mallory is by far the movie’s greatest asset.  Soderbergh films most of the action sequences in confined areas, letting her utilize the environment in astonishing and brutal ways.

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The Best Performances of 2010

1. Annette Bening- The Kids Are All Right The kids might just be all right, but Annette Bening as a modern lesbian mother seeing her family spin out of control no matter how tightly wound her controlling character may be is more than all right, she’s fantastic. Her ability to play the character with such effortlessness and ease makes the audience forget they are watching film and instead submerse themselves into the troubles, anxieties and and love that her character Nic feels as she undergoes a common, but crucial stage in life. Key Scene: Even with so many to choose from, one scene one can’t forget after watching the film is the humorous yet explosive scene of seeing her daughter come home on a motorcycle with “donor-Dad” and finally releasing her feelings about his unwanted parenting.

2. Christian Bale- The Fighter– Bale steals scenes left and right in The Fighter, much like they were stolen from him in The Dark Knight. As the crack-addicted former boxing star of Lowell, Mass., he must now watch as his brother Micky chases after the dream with a clearer head.  Adding in humor only makes his character the sad clown, one that, unlike The Joker, you really feel for.  Key Scene: Bale singing a song with his mother (Melissa Leo) in the car after the two had just had a big argument.  The full spectrum of these two characters’ relationship comes to light thanks to this explosive and charming scene.

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REVIEW: A Solitary Man

A Solitary Man
Directed by: Brian Koppelman & David Levien
Written by: Brian Koppelman
Starring: Michael Douglas, Jenna Fischer, Susan Sarandon, and Danny DeVito

You see him in the rear-view mirror, but he’s not looking back.  His eyes look stubbornly ahead at an open highway as his life is under construction.

Those eyes and that face belong to Michael Douglas, who in A Solitary Man plays Ben Kalmen, a disgraced degenerate of a character not unlike those that many other aging actors have done in the past few years.  A once-wealthy Baby Boomer taken from his pedastal of pleasure and placed in a rapidly swirling drain is a popular story when Oscar season rolls around.  Jeff Bridges and Mickey Rourke did it to their own ends, and now Douglas does it to his own.

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TRAILER: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Directed by: Oliver Stone
Written by: Allan Loeb & Stephan Schiff
Starring: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan, and Josh Brolin

It’s kind of weird that with the slew of franchise reboots and unwanted fifth entries in series, Oliver Stone has decided to make a franchise out of his 80’s exploration of the costs of big money.  Even when you look at the times we’re in, it seems odd that Stone wouldn’t just make a completely different movie with different characters that explored the modern age.  But here we are, leaving one of the worst summers in recent memory, heading into a fall that hopefully lifts the year up.  Stone can either help or hinder with his oddly risky sequel, and from the looks of the trailer, he may in fact knock it out of the park.

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