Movie stars, as we know them, are not so much dead in 2013 as much as they’re no longer making movies. Celebrity has stretched far beyond film or television; people become famous now without having accomplished much of anything, just for being at the right place at the right time, or tweeting out the right scandalous photo to set afire the comments sections at TMZ or Perez Hilton. Though movies cost more than they used to—both to make and to partake—they are less frequently headlined by a man or woman whose very presence ensures bankability. A handful of movie stars remain, yet even someone like Robert Downey, Jr. can only guarantee a movie will make back its profit and then some when he’s donned his Iron Man suit.
The most unsettling element of Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion (which is, by any metric, a deeply discomfiting film) is its plausibility. The film has a clinical approach that underlines how possible its central crisis is and how powerless we would be to stop it. The film has a global scope and an all-star cast, but what resonates most is the idea that this could happen. Anywhere. Anytime. To any one of us.
A title card at the start of Neill Blomkamp’s second feature, Elysium, informs viewers that in its not-too-distant future the Earth has become unlivable, and that her richest residents fled the planet to preserve their way of life. Nothing wrong with that, except for the fact that the film’s next ten minutes consist of images of an unlivable Earth, whose richest residents have fled to an orbital platform to preserve their way of life. That’s the sort of film Elysium is: for as smart as its premise may be, and as smart as its director is, it doesn’t seem to think its audience is very bright.
t is with a significant pang of regret in 2013 that we bid a fond adieu to director Steven Soderbergh, but at lerast we have the smnall placebo of two remaining films from the incredibly profligate director, beginning with his penultimate film Side Effects. If you’ll excuse the pun I don’t wish to get too ‘side’tracked but I think there are a few crucial items to consider before we delve into the movie itself, a concluding episode to his career which is as expected a superb contemporary drama which springboards into other areas with the dexterous ease of a state drilled East German Olympic gymnast, namely what on earth could drive such a prolific and endlessly inventive cinematic soul into potential big-screen retirement?
Call it what you must, but if Steven Soderbergh is truly exiting the cinematic frontier for a while, Behind the Candelabra marks a very fitting and appropriate departure for the director. Adapted from the autobiographical novel by Alex Thorleifson and Scott Thorson, Candelabra is a rather direct biopic shedding light on the private life of Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his 6-year relationship with younger lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon).