A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Magic Mike XXL (Gregory Jacobs, 2015)

I liked Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh, 2012). It was the work of a major Hollywood director with a charismatic performance by Matthew McConaughey and a well-turned plot, and it dealt with a subject, male strippers, that hadn't been done to death on screen. But the sequel has none of those things. McConaughey is missing, and although Soderbergh is credited as executive producer and (under his pseudonym "Peter Andrews") as cinematographer, the direction has been turned over to Gregory Jacobs, assistant director on many of Soderbergh's films. The screenplay by Reed Carolin, who wrote the earlier film, is long on incident but short on plot: There is little in the way of conflict or obstacles to build momentum for the story. It simply boils down to "the boys" -- an apt epithet for these middle-aged victims of Peter Pan syndrome -- trying to avoid the responsibility of career and family a little while longer. Instead of coming to terms with their problems, the film simply allows them to triumph at what they know they can't keep doing forever. Okay, yes, there is fun to be had here anyway: Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, and Adam Rodriguez are good-looking actors with a great deal of skill at flaunting their attributes. There are good contributions by Andie MacDowell as a lecherous aging Southern belle and especially by Jada Pinkett Smith as Rome, the proprietor of a private club where women can indulge their sexual fantasies. And what message the film has is a positive one: an affirmation of female sexual desire. It's not a bad movie, but just an unnecessary one.