Jul 092015


Magic Mike XXL is an almost euphoric experience, and against all odds (considering I am not at all the target demographic) it has fast become one of my favourite films of 2015 far. It is directed by Gregory Jacobs, a long-time collaborator with Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Side Effects, Ocean’s Eleven), serving as a producer and assistant director on many of his films. Writer/producer Reid Carolin, who has worked with lead star Channing Tatum on a number of projects including 21 Jump Street, returns for the screenplay. I read that 96% of the film’s US audience in its [disappointing] opening week were women. This doesn’t surprise me, but my goal here is to convince anyone and everyone to see this film.

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Jul 082015


In cinemas this week: Magic Mike XXL and Madame Bovary. 

Magic Mike XXL – Picking up the story three years after Mike bowed out of the stripper life at the top of his game, “Magic Mike XXL” finds the remaining Kings of Tampa likewise ready to throw in the towel. But they want to do it their way: burning down the house in one last blow-out performance in Myrtle Beach, and with legendary headliner Magic Mike sharing the spotlight with them. On the road to their final show, with whistle stops in Jacksonville and Savannah to renew old acquaintances and make new friends, Mike and the guys learn some new moves and shake off the past in surprising ways. While it perhaps doesn’t have the thematic weight of Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, which was an indie film about the pursuit of the American Dream with character-driven drama, XXL offers something completely different. I am wracking my brain to find a film that has entertained me more this year. Soderbergh, serving as 1AD, DP and editor, has his stamp all over it. It looks amazing and all of the performances, including the very involved Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard and Andie Macdowell, are superb.

Madame Bovary – Set in Normandy, France, this is the classic story of Emma Bovary, a young beauty who impulsively marries small-town doctor, Charles Bovary, to leave her father’s pig farm far behind. But after being introduced to the glamorous world of high society, she soon becomes bored with her stodgy husband and mundane life, and seeks prestige and excitement outside the bonds of marriage. I understand that an adaptation of the classic novel is a tough enterprise, but this looks like a dry effort, despite what I expect to be strong work from a cast led by Mia Wasikowska.

Weekly Recommendation: Admittedly, my expectations weren’t sky high, but Magic Mike XXL surprised me. It has further appreciated on reflection, because it is so refreshingly balanced – racially diverse and wonderfully female inclusive – while being a near-faultless ‘last hoorah bromance’ road trip film.  I genuinely believe it is one of the year’s best and most entertaining films.  Full review to come.