Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Theaters: "Magic Mike"

Someday, someone will write a lengthy, scholarly deconstructionist essay on Steven Soderbergh’s use of the late-‘70s/early-‘80s Saul Bass-designed Warner Brothers logo at the beginning and Foreigner’s “Feels Like The First Time” at the end of his new movie Magic Mike, but here’s a thumbnail sketch: he’s earmarking it to the proper era, because he basically made the male Flashdance. It’s not just that he spends the entire film slyly subverting traditional on-screen gender roles (more on that later), it’s that the whole movie has a distinctively go-go ‘80s sensibility. It’s like one of those Tom Cruise movies where he’s the best ____ in the world (bartender, racecar driver, pool player, whatever); here, Channing Tatum is the best male stripper. There’s one true ‘80s Cruise movie in theaters right now, and it ain’t Rock of Ages.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Theaters: "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Beasts of the Southern Wild is a movie that sneaks up on you, and then wrecks you. It’s a wildly unconventional picture, light on plot and heavy on mood; it introduces its characters, dithers around with them a while, observes them, joins them in their flights of fancy. Director Benh Zietlin is less interested in notions of routine narrative than he is in creating a feeling, a tone, one that is carefully crafted and impeccably sustained. It is, for a long time, a film that seems to be amiably going nowhere, until it arrives. Boy, does it ever.

Monday, June 25, 2012

On DVD: "21 Jump Street"

If it offered nothing else to be thankful for, one could applaud Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s 21 Jump Street for giving us the most meta movie moment in recent memory. It comes early, when young cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are being reprimanded by their captain (Nick Offerman) for blowing an arrest by not reading the suspect his Miranda rights. (Jenko, not the brightest bulb, can’t remember them: “They always cut away on TV before they finish ‘em”). They’re being reassigned, their boss tells them. “They’re reviving a cancelled undercover police program from the ‘80s and reinventing it for a new generation,” he explains, primarily because they’re “completely out of ideas.”