Side Effects

Side Effects posterEndgame Ent./Open Road (2013) 106 min. R

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Screenplay: Scott Z. Burns

Cinematography: Peter Andrews

Editing: Mary Ann Bernard

Production Design: Howard Cummings; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo

Costumes: Susan Lyall

Score: Thomas Newman

Stars: Jude Law (Dr. Jonathan Banks), Rooney Mara (Emily Taylor), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Dr. Victoria Siebert), Channing Tatum (Martin Taylor), Vinessa Shaw (Dierdre Banks), Ann Dowd (Martin’s Mother) 

The buzz around Side Effects, Steven Soderbergh’s latest, centered on its being announced as his last movie before leaving the industry to answer the call of the higher arts. It was an ingenious marketing gimmick. Advertising Side Effects as his endgame raised its appraisal value exponentially. Viewers were made to feel as though this were their final chance to seek out a Soderbergh film on the big screen, at least until his earlier work is re-released in 3D. The canny director is already exercising the most salient aspect of selling art, by exploiting the fact that a master’s work always increases in value after he passes. Soderbergh is no fool; like his onscreen characters he knows how to manipulate the market. Continue reading

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

dragon_tattoo_posterColumbia/MGM (2011) 158 min. R

Director: David Fincher

Screenplay: Steven Zaillian; based on the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth; Editing: Kirk Baxter & Angus Wall

Production Design: Donald Graham Burt; Set Decoration: K.C. Fox

Costumes: Trish Summerville; Score: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Stars:  Daniel Craig (Mikael Blomkvist), Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander), Christopher Plummer (Henrik Vanger), Stellan Skarsgård (Martin Vanger), Steven Berkoff (Dirch Frode), Robin Wright (Erika Berger), Yorick van Wageningen (Nils Bjurman), Joely Richardson (Anita Vanger), Julian Sands (Young Henrik)

Sometimes I feel as though the only American horror stories that still seem worth telling anymore are remakes of Asian films such as The Ring, The Grudge, One Missed Call, The Eye, Shutter, and Insidious, an American original which qualifies by default (it was directed by the Malaysian Chinese-born James Wan, who grew up in Australia). Upon seeing David Fincher’s version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2011, I’m willing to make the same assertion for American remakes of unsettling Scandinavian psychological thrillers. The movie was based on the same source as the 2009 Swedish film directed by Niels Arden Oplev and starring Noomi Rapace. Continue reading