Side Effects

discs murderer lives

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Murderer Lives at 21 (UK release) A murderer is stalking the streets of Paris, and his only calling card is a literal calling card bearing the name “Monsieur Durand.” The police are getting nowhere fast, but when a petty criminal offers evidence that the killer resides in a local boarding house a top detective goes in undercover to ferret the murderer out for arrest. Hilarity ensues. I’m not kidding about it being hilarious either. Director Henri-Georges Clouzot would go on to make Wages of Fear, Diabolique and others, but his debut film shows an assured hand with both the visual style and a fantastic tonal balance between the mystery and the laughs. The dialogue moves at a ’40s screwball comedy pace, and it’s loaded with wit, smarts and innuendo. Even more impressive is the film’s final shot… especially knowing it was shot during the Nazi occupation of France. [UK DVD extras: Interview]

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Scott Z. Burns

Side Effects marks the third collaboration between screenwriter Scott Z. Burns and director Steven Soderbergh. They previously tackled the mind of a bipolar pathological liar with The Informant and a horror-esque “what if?” movie with Contagion. For Side Effects, they’re not taking on pharmaceuticals, but a twisty thriller in the vein of Fatal Attraction and Body Heat. This is the type of movie that drops a new piece of information in almost every scene, causing you to rethink most of what you previously saw. Burns accomplished that with a split narrative starring characters who aren’t exactly the most noble. An ensemble movie with characters one can’t really root for is something of a rare commodity these days, and from the sounds of it, it’s something Burns would like to see (and write) more of. Here’s what screenwriter Scott Z. Burns had to say about constructing ensemble narratives, how Russian literature inspired Side Effects, and some of his frustrations with the studio storytelling norms:

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Side Effects

If Side Effects truly is Steven Soderbergh‘s final theatrical film, the director has ended his storied career on a somewhat surprising note – Side Effects surely combines all the character intrigue and well-crafted filmmaking technique we expect from Soderbergh, but its seemingly unoriginal plotline will likely fall flat with a number of viewers. And yet, that does read “seemingly,” because bundled up within Scott Z. Burns’ relatively straightforward thriller-influenced screenplay is one hell of an intriguing story, one that will linger with its dedicated viewers for far longer than its swiftly-moving 106 minute runtime. It’s not Magic Mike or Ocean’s Eleven or even Erin Brockovich, but Side Effects is a more than worthy film for anyone to end their career (well, maybe) on. Side Effects benefits most from fresh viewings and relatively uninformed audience members, ones not steeped in trailers and television spots (in fact, a couple of recent TV spots for the film have revealed far more than this critic would have liked), but the basic plot can be shared without concern over potential spoiling. Rooney Mara stars as Manhattanite Emily, a reserved young wife who is trying to delicately balance the pieces of her life in the wake of what should be a pleasant change – the recent release of her husband, Martin (Channing Tatum), from a white collar prison after a four year stint for some messy professional mistakes. Emily has a history of anxiety, one that certainly wasn’t aided by Martin’s legal troubles, and things are […]

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Soderbergh Schizopolis

In contrast to other well-respected filmmakers whose revisited obsessions traverse and develop across a litany of discrete works, Steven Soderbergh has most often been described as a expressive and ever-experimenting formalist, a master technician, a “process-rather-than-results person,” but never an auteur. But with Soderbergh’s immanent retirement on the horizon (his last theatrical film, Side Effects, will be released Friday, followed by his HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra), there seems to be a sense of urgency in attempting to make sense of a talented filmmaker who’s worked within and without the studio system, through various genres, and with budgets ranging from giant to shoestring. While Soderbergh is rather open about his process, what compels him to tackle certain subjects, and how they’re tied together, may remain a mystery – if, in fact, there’s any logic informing his choices at all beyond stylistic exercise and an addiction to workahol. But when examining the five (or, arguably, six) films of his that have been released through The Criterion Collection, an interesting pattern emerges – perhaps not one that encompasses all his works, but one that certainly applies to several films outside the small percentage of the prolific filmmaker’s career represented here.

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soderbergh yes

Later this week, the alleged final theatrical release directed by Steven Soderbergh will open nationwide. Titled Side Effects, it’s a fine little thriller involving psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. Maybe not the grandest finale for the filmmaker who gave us such big movies as the Oceans trilogy, Traffic, Che, Shizopolis and of course Sex, Lies and Videotape, but he didn’t enter the business with a bang either. Soderbergh’s first professional directing gig, at age 21, was helming a little-recognized concert film titled Yes: 9012Live, which presents a 1984 performance by the band Yes during their tour supporting the album 90125. (You can see a clip of them doing “Roundabout” from the film here.) Supplementary to that, he shot a short backstage documentary during the tour called Access All Areas. It’s a crude look at the reunited prog-rock group both aesthetically and content-wise. It’s quickly cut, offering only bits of moments rather than full-on scenes. And some of those little bits include band members mooning the camera, talking about needing to poop and putting their butts up to the microphone of Larry Blake, who would continue on as Soderbergh’s regular sound man for almost 30 years (through Magic Mike). And at the end of the film, everyone has false credits where Tony Kaye and Trevor Rabin are said to be known as “Jack Mehoff” and “Michael Hunt,” respectively. Who knew Yes was so childish?

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February Must Sees

This February isn’t such a hot month for movie-going. When it comes to genuine “must-sees,” there are only two movies on this list which earn that title, and they’re the expected picks. January could have been worse, but this February won’t do 2013 any favors, unless the fifth Die Hard movie ends up blowing everyone’s socks off, and since it’s from the director of Max Payne, how could it not? In short, this year isn’t off to a good start. We got spoiled with last December, as we usually do, so hopefully we see something genuinely great soon, unless you thought Mama overcame a lackluster script, that Movie 43 wasn’t the Antichrist sent from Satan himself, and if you even remember that movie with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. The Last Stand isn’t included, because no more than five people saw it. Hopefully a few of you go out to see these movies and have a fun time, though:

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Side Effects trailer

The last time we got a trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming thriller, Side Effects, it was a little too dream-like and abstract to really tell us what the movie was about. Rooney Mara was taking drugs of some sort, Channing Tatum tried to pull off wearing a fedora, Jude Law screamed a bunch, and apparently a murder got committed—but what order all of that happened in and who the good guys and the bad guys of the film were never quite got made clear.

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Side Effects Poster

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on in this trailer for Side Effects from Steven Soderbergh, but it’s intense. From the synopsis, I know that Rooney Mara plays a woman taking prescription pills to deal with the release of her husband (Channing Tatum) from prison, but in the trailer? Maybe she got seduced by her shrink (Jude Law)? Or maybe she’s claiming something worse? Maybe they made meth together in a travel trailer? In a way, it’s kind of cool to see a bunch of puzzle pieces but no picture on the front of the box. From the vague description and this jumbled trailer, the movie’s plot is still in the fog, but the tone and performances are given a great spotlight in which to shine.

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Side Effects Poster

Whether or not Side Effects is director Steven Soderbergh‘s final film still remains to be seen, but even that added (potential) intrigue seems unnecessary so far, because the Channing Tatum, Jude Law, and Rooney Mara-starring film looks satisfyingly confounding all on its own. Mara stars as a young wife (to Tatum, lucky duck) who turns to a doc played by Law to help ease her anxiety. He prescribes her a new drug. And it has, you guessed it, side effects. The film’s first poster is a sleekly designed affair, and we’re willing to bet it holds more than a few secrets to Side Effects. Like just what does “a doctor’s most important prescription is trust” mean? Side Effects opens on February 8, 2013. [The Huffington Post]

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Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh is one of the most prolific filmmakers of our era. Though his early retirement is immanent, he’s released more films – and a greater variety of films – in his twenty-three years of directing than some filmmakers helm in a lifetime. Since bursting on the American independent film scene in 1989 with sex, lies, and videotape, Soderbergh has made studio blockbusters and micro-budget experiments, strange remakes and films that blur the line between narrative and documentary, not to mention semi-biopics of public figures as diverse as Spalding Gray, Che Guevara, Erin Brockovich, and Channing Tatum. He’s been a leader in exploring the possibilities of new digital filmmaking technologies, and it seems there isn’t a genre or scale of filmmaking that he hasn’t yet touched. He’s even made a film that you’ll never see. Last week, the trailer for Side Effects, Soderbergh’s last theatrical film and his penultimate film project (the final, final one being the made-for-HBO Liberace biopic Beyond the Candelabra), made its debut on the web. So with the supposed final days of an impressive career by a prolific filmmaker upon us, here’s a bit of free film school from a guy that considers both George Clooney and Sasha Grey his muses.

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Side Effects trailer

Rumors of Steven Soderbergh‘s retirement have been greatly exaggerated (seriously, guys, that’s just not happening), but the director’s supposed “next-to-last” film, Side Effects, has perhaps been the victim of not enough exaggeration and chatter. The Rooney Mara-starring film also features Soderbergh returning players Channing Tatum and Jude Law (and even comes with a screenplay by Contagion‘s Scott Z. Burns), but it’s flown quite spectacularly under the radar. The only thing resembling an official synopsis for the film, as reflected over at the film’s IMDb page, promises that Side Effects centers on “a woman [who] turns to prescription medication as a way of handling her anxiety concerning her husband’s upcoming release from prison.” And yet, this first trailer feels more in the spirit of some sort of infidelity thriller, like Unfaithful or Closer, though those prescription drugs are definitely present. So just how much of all the dark drama we glimpse in this first trailer is real…and how much of it is in Mara’s seemingly drug-addled brain? We can’t wait to find out. Swallow down the first trailer for Side Effects after the break. It will go down quite nicely, we promise.

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Yesterday I promised that if we just waited patiently, the remaining questions about Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming movie Side Effects would soon be answered, and a whole new set of questions would probably arise. Oh, how true that was. Before we get into all that, let’s do a brief rundown of the reporting that’s been done on this movie so far. First it was reported that a “psychopharmacology thriller” that Soderbergh was working on called Bitter Pill was getting its funding through a partnership between Annapurna Pictures and Open Road Films, but that the movie would be called Side Effects going forward. Then came news that Annapurna had pulled their funding, possibly based on concerns they had with Blake Lively being cast in the starring role. It was also theorized that the production was looking at a short list of new actresses to take Lively’s place and save the film some face. Finally, the casting rumors looked to be true, because it was announced that Rooney Mara had been chosen to take Lively’s place as the lead. We were then left only with the question of who would come on board to take Annapurna’s place as this movie’s sugar daddy.

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Here we are, once again, talking about Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming thriller about depression and medication, Side Effects. The last time we left our players in this ongoing drama Annapurna Pictures had pulled their funding from the film, reportedly over a kerfuffle about casting. You see, rumor had it that there was some uneasy feelings about Blake Lively playing the lead role in this film, that of a depressed woman who battles addiction and is in the middle of a love triangle involving both her husband and her doctor. Further rumors indicated that there were a whole short-list of actresses that Soderbergh and his people were looking at to replace Lively, and hopefully restore faith in the project. Well, it looks like at least most of those rumors were true. Deadline Bedford is reporting that Lively has been shuffled off the film and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara will now be taking her place as the lead. Seeing as Mara just turned a lot of heads playing a dark, troubled woman and Lively hasn’t ever turned too many heads doing anything, this is probably good news for the movie overall.

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Back in November, we reported that newly un-retired director Steven Soderbergh’s next film would be a thriller about the world of psychopharmacology called Bitter Pill. Following Soderbergh’s projects has been kind of a roller coaster ride lately though, so having faith that Bitter Pill was actually going to get made was kind of a…ahem, tough pill to swallow. But things are now looking a lot better on that front. While this is still the Scott Z. Burns script that Soderbergh intends to work on, the film has now been retitled Side Effects, a seemingly arbitrary change that at least points to the fact that active work is being done on development. And that’s not even the big news. The big news is that heiress Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is stepping up to fund the film, alongside Open Road Films, who will be handling the domestic distribution. That kind of makes this one a lot more official, and seeing as Open Road is hoping for a release in the first half of 2013, shooting is scheduled to start in April and the casting process should begin ASAP. I would imagine that Soderbergh is calling up Matt Damon and George Clooney as we speak. [THR]

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