Archive for Soderweek

The Girlfriend Experience & Full Frontal

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2011 by Parker Connell

Soderweek continues for me with The Girlfriend Experience and Full Frontal. Both films could (and should) be considered lesser Soderbergh films due to their loose storytelling and their short run times. Neither of those are bad things,especially the short run times which made it much easier to get through them. These are two essentially Soderbergh experiments and as such they are successes.

Both GFE and Full Frontal are short slice of life yarns about people in some kind of entertainment industry. GFE is a drama about a really high-class prostitute (played by Sasha Grey) and Full Frontal is a comedy about people in and around Hollywood.

The Girlfriend Experience wasn’t as good as Full Frontal simply because I didn’t care about any other character outside of Sasha Grey’s girlfriend for money Christine. Pretty much every character is a super rich business type and since the film is set on the cusp of the economic crisis and the 2008 presidential election all they do is complain about money and who would be better for there money.

Full Frontal was better to me because the cast was pretty great and I’m just more interested in th film industry than I am prostitution, especially the kind of prostitution that costs over 2 grand a date and has no dependence on crack. Probably the most entertaining part of Full Frontal for me was Blair Underwood and Julia Roberts starring in a romantic comedy within the film and then Blair Underwood’s character starring in a David Fincher film within the romantic comedy (complete with cameo from both Fincher and Brad Pitt). It was funny, and it actually kind of hurt my brain. Also the sub plot about the always great Enrico Colantoni putting on a weirdly pretentious play about Hitler starring the equally as great Nicki Katt was laugh out loud funny.

All in all both films succeeded in their own ways, The Girlfriend Experience was very nice to look at but ultimately hollow, and Full Frontal was ugly as sin but had some interesting things to say about creative people, but honestly I don’t think I’d ever like to watch them again.

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Solaris

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by Parker Connell

I am starting a new tradition for movie fans. I think of it a bit like a pilgrimage one might make if they were religious, you know if your religion was based around good movies, which mine is. This filmgrimage is called Soderweek and this is how you go about accomplishing it. For seven days you must watch as many Steven Soderbergh films as you can. They don’t have to be the only movies you watch, but they should make up the majority of them for those seven days. The other rule of Soderweek is that you must watch at least 2 Steven Soderbergh films that you have never seen before. If for some reason you have already seen all of Steven Soderbergh’s films (which I find unlikely unless you are in fact Steven Soderbergh, in which case hello Mr. Soderbergh I really enjoyed The Informant, and I hope those rumors about you retiring soon are false.) you have to get a friend (or enemy) to watch 2 Soderbergh films with you that they have not seen. The most exciting part about Soderweek, like any religious pilgrimage, is that it is a wholly personal experience; you choose the week when you will do it. It is written that you must complete at least one Soderweek in your lifetime but it is recommended by the Elder Gods that you make as many Soderweek pilgrimages as possibly. I have chosen the week starting Feb 7th and ending Feb 14th as my first Soderweek, and the first film I watched was Solaris.

Solaris is a surprisingly great film. It’s a simple sci-fi story about a shrink (Cloon the goon) who has to take trip to a space ship that has stopped all contact. The ship is orbiting a celestial body known as Solaris. Solaris is a strange entity that nobody understands and when Clooney gets there he finds half the crew dead and the other half slowly being driven mad by the power of Solaris.

Any description of this film will make it sound much more intense and science fictiony than it is, but like 2001 (a film that obviously influenced Soderbergh in the making of this film) Solaris is a much subtler more subdued thing. Really this film is about one man coming to terms with the death of someone he loved, set against the always interesting back drop of madness from the vastness and intense alienness of the cosmos.

The film also stars Jeremy Davies, Viola Davis, and Natascha McElhone, and that is pretty much it. Personally I love Jeremy Davies in this and pretty much everything, he is just a fascinating person to watch, and his fidgety pause filled delivery is perfect for a Space Madness film. Viola Davis is also quite good she plays the other surviving crewmember and while she is just as crazy as Davies she plays it exactly the opposite, she is always stone still and very unassuming. McElhone plays Clooney’s lost love in both flashbacks and as a projection of Clooney’s memory via Solaris. McElhone has the tough job of being simultaneously off-putting to the audience but believable as somebody Clooney would immediately fall back in love even though he knows she is dead and she pulls it off perfectly.

As a sci-fi fan I was disappointed a bit with the way Soderbergh pushed aside most possibilities for some great sci-fi, but by the end I got what he was trying to get across. This isn’t a film about space and alien life it is about memory, and death, and love, and big themes that have been explored before, but in my opinion any theme is better if it is explored on a space ship.