Not quite was I expected. I thought this would be a comedy, but actually it is a ‘high end’ indinctment of the global financial system. The cast is pretty impressive. Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep in the main roles; James Cromwell and Chris McLaughlin in by-roles.
An old Meryl Streep looses her husband (Cromwell) in a terrible boat accident. The company running the boat just moved their insurance to a cheaper company, but this proves to be a part of a big financial scam in which ownership is moved to all kinds of empty businesses on tax friendly islands.
Streep sets her mind on finding out why she does not just get the compensation that the boat company was insured for. She walks into a massive swamp in which people own thousands of companies with the only aim to raise their own wealth. Banderas and Oldman are the (fictional) masterminds behind the whole system and they ironically explain how all that works.
The film is amusing, but mostly in a painful way, because this is probably how it really works. “The Laundromat” is -so to way- an instructive comedy.
Inspite of being a Soderbergh and featuring Jude Law and Catherina Zeta Jones, “Side Effects” is not a very good film. The first part is just alright with a young woman suffering from the side effects of anti depressants she gets from her shrink (Jude Law). Then towards the end some obligatory plot-changes occur which make the film rather silly. Fortunately the acting is good and the atmosphere is not too bad either, but that story…
‘Black ops’ agent Gina Carano gets double crossed during a job in Barcelona. Finding out the whos and whys a revenge action film unfolds. The story is not very original and not really surprising either, but since Soderbergh cut the film in pieces and rearranged things the story is not immediately totally clear. That may not be something you never saw, but something that does add to the film is the way that Soderbergh filmed and montaged things. There are full-blown chasing scenes that would normally have been accompanied by pounding music and exagerated sounds, but in “Haywire” the music is relatively tranquil and the sound minimalistic. I am sure that many people would have preferred the adrenaline rush type of filming, but this is at least something unusual. Also the camera work and colours are something atypical. Overall “Haywire” does remain a hip, contemporary action thriller though.
“The Good German” is a not very special film that plays in Berlin just after WWII. An American journalist (Clooney) goes to Berlin to find an old love (Blanchett) and runs into a web of intrigue and rivalry between the different camps that landed in Berlin for the peace conference. What is nice about the film is the 40’ies way of filming and atmosphere. Besides that and good acting, “The Good German” is just a post-war drama.
An American movie about the ‘war on drugs’. This can only be a patriotic commercial for the US policy of 2,5 hour, right? Well, this is mostly what “Traffic” is.
As it seems to have to nowadays, there are different stories that either or not come together at some point. We have the brandnew highest official on the war on drugs judge Robert Hudson (Michael Douglas) whose daughter Caroline (Erika Christensen) starts to experiment with drugs and eventually becomes addicted. Two American policemen Ray Castro (Luis Guzman) and Montel Gordon (Don Cheadle) catch the drug-dealer Eduardo Ruiz (Miguel Ferrer) and make him chief witness against his boss, but this gives a lot of problems. Then we have Helena Alaya (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who didn’t know that her husband was this big boss until he was caught. First she fights the thought of her husband being a major criminal, but after getting threatened herself, she decides to take over his work. Then we have a Mexican police officer Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) who walks the thin line between corrupsy and under-cover working while he starts to work for General Ralph Landry (James Brolin) who also to Hudson claims to be on a war on drugs, while he is actually on war with his competition.
So, the idea was to show different stories of people involved with the drugs-problem. An addict, the parents, policemen from both sides of the border, their officials, jurisdiction, the dealers, their leaders and the war between the gang. Too obviously this is used to ‘advertise’ the money-devouring war on drugs of the USA.
BUT, there is a good thing about this film, which is the artistic value. The different stories are shot in different colours, Douglas’ story is blue, the criminals in yellow, etc. which is a nice idea. Also there are some nice camera-points, wonderfull over-lighting, and long silent shots from helicopters or a car. However the film could have been half an hour shorter, the silent scenes sure add something to the whole film.
All in all this is just a nice film by the director of the wonderfull “The Limey” and the flabby comedy that I haven’t seen “Erin Brockovich” and “Ocean’s Eleven” that -if I remember correctly- still shows in the local cinemas.