Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Mike or Joe ? Joe or Mike? No contest ...

KILLER JOE - what a blast from William Friedkin, firing on all cylinders again. Its everything MAGIC MIKE should have been, and I can't wait to see it again. Talk about scuzzy sleazy trailer trash lowlifes .... and then there is Gina Gershon going above and beyond the call of duty.

Chris a Texan drug dealer, heavily in debt decides the only solution is to murder his mother to collect the insurance money. Getting together with his equally deadbeat father, the ex-husband of Chris' mother, they decide to hire Joe Cooper a contract killer, who also happens to be a police detective. The plan is that the money will go to Chris' sister Dottie. However due to the size of the contract fee, Chris agrees that Joe can take Dottie as a retainer until the insurance comes through.

I think you would have to like off-the-wall movies like the McDonaghs' IN BRUGES or THE GUARD or Tanantino or Cronenberg at their best to really enjoy this. It does though contain one of the most sadistic scenes I’ve seen in a mainstream movie, which fits in with that down and dirty indie feel which is totally right here. Guiding it all is the performance of Matthew McConaughey, capping off a good year which gets him away from dreary romcoms. As the eponymous Joe, he’s a detective moonlighting as a hitman, brought in to end a redneck Texas mother so her son and ex-husband can collect on the insurance policy. Suggesting a second career playing heavies might be in the cards, he oozes dread; how hard must it be for an actor to convincingly play scary? He certainly accomplishes it here.

Friedkin (director, lets not forget, of THE FRENCH CONNECTION, THE EXORCIST, not to mention BOYS IN THE BAND and CRUISING which I wouldn't see), aided by scriptwriter Tracy Letts (from his play) seems to be going for a fun juicy pulp noir here, like Welles having fun with TOUCH OF EVIL.

Stunning scenes include where Joe seduces Dottie and another scene which involves fried chicken won't see an advertising tie-in with KFC. There is also some extremely graphic violence but the pulpy sheer enjoyment of it all is infectious. I see it as a pitch black comedy noir which is outrageous and provocative throughout but also lots of fun.

MAGIC MIKE on the other hand was an extreme downer. I found nothing interesting about it at all and it presents a very odd view of the world of male strippers, as looked at by heterosexual men. The men are not presented as being in any way erotic, the dancing is kept to a minimum in the film. The story is trite as directed by Steven Soderberg  

Mike, an experienced stripper, takes a younger performer called 'The Kid' under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money. 

I have not seen too much of Channing Tatum but he was interesting in his Roman adventure THE EAGLE (2000s label) where he was charismatic and had good chemistry with co-star Jamie Bell - but here he has no charisma with the camera at all - its supposed to be his story but he seems to go through it on autopilot. We hardly see any of the other dancers in the group, theres no back stories for them. Matt Bomer's best moment is his number (below) in the deleted extended dance extras.
The Kid and Dallas
The women are all a baying mob and the leading lady whom Mike wants to get involved with may well be the least charistmatic interesting female lead I have seen - and we cannot see why he would want to be with her. Its her brother The Kid (who turns out to be a real jerk) whom Mike introduces to the world of male stripping. But he has no conflict or concern about it - is it just another job to him? He (Alex Pettyfer) has a good body but does not register much. The movie finally comes alive when he gets on stage and just casually strips so Dallas, the group leader, shows him how to tease his audience and work to make the number come alive. McConaughey seizes his moment here as his sleazy Dallas shows how to work the room. Another long curiously uninvolving scene is played out in one take with people sitting around talking at a table as we simply lose interest as there is nothing visual going on and no editing or close-ups to involve us. I felt the same about Soderberg's previous CONTAGION which similarly did not involve me.  

Matt lets rip
THE FULL MONTY was much more involving as we understood the men's motivations for taking up stripping in the North of England background, due to economic reasons, and shared their worries with exposing their bodies, and their sexuality, with 2 of them getting involved with each other. MAGIC MIKE though presents a totally straight world where the strip routines are somehow antiseptic and not in the least erotic, as Mike sorts out his future and relationship with the Kid's sister (Cody Horn) after The Kid's drugs involvment has cost him dear. 

Mike remains an amiable lunk who wants to leave stripping before he gets too old - but the tale lacks the bite and wit of AMERICAN GIGOLO or BOOGIE NIGHTS. The Kid's character has no redeeming qualities, and at the end has learned nothing from his bad behaviour ... THE END, until MAGIC MIKE 2 ?

No comments:

Post a Comment