Soderbergh Says Male Stripper Film Magic Mike Is A Realistic, Altman-esque Comedy

By Katey Rich 2012-01-12 12:49:03discussion comments
Soderbergh Says Male Stripper Film Magic Mike Is A Realistic, Altman-esque Comedy image
Much has been made of the way Steven Soderbergh jumps genres, going from a loopy corporate intrigue satire like The Informant to the grim virus outbreak drama Contagion, and next week to the quick-moving, ass-kicking action film Haywire, starring MMA fighter Gina Carano. As if it couldn't get any more varied, he's got another film coming out this year that was once known as "The Channing Tatum Stripper Movie." Now titled Magic Mike, it does in fact star Channing Tatum and is in fact about a male strip club. But if you ask Soderbergh, it's got the same tone as his most recent two films-- a tone that prioritizes realism over anything else. Here's how he described it during an interview earlier today:

Does Magic Mike share the realism of [Contagion and Haywire] too?
Yeah. But it's a comedy. It's fun. It's a party. It's an Altman movie in that sense. It has the kind of feel. It's not like jokes, but the people are funny.

While it might not be surprising to hear that a movie about male strippers is funny, especially given that first image of Matthew McConaughey in a skimpy Uncle Sam outfit that you see above. But you really never know with Soderbergh, especially since he recently took the seemingly cheesy idea of an ensemble of actors facing a deadly, world-ending foe and turned it into Contagion, a genuinely creepy and compelling drama. The Altman comparison might be the most intriguing of all-- though Soderbergh has consistently worked with large ensemble casts of famous actors, he's never quite intertwined them the way that Altman would, following long stretches of dialogue and allowing humor to play out in naturalistic, sly ways. It might be sacrilege to think that a spiritual successor to Nashville could play out in a male strip club, but hey, if Paul Thomas Anderson got away with it in Boogie Nights, why not Soderbergh too?

Soderbergh also revealed a little bit about how Magic Mike will look, describing a moving camera and choreographed action that also seems to echo Altman. Here's how he described it, after discussing some of the camera work in Haywire and Contagion as well:

I was allowed to move the camera more in Haywire than Contagion, because of what was going on in the frame. They're similar in the sense that there's one handheld sequence in here, and it doesn't feel as handheld as it might because it's off speed. There's a fluidity to it that keeps it from being handheld. The only handheld stuff with Contagion is the flashback with Gwyneth in the casino. They both share the approach that the camera is not on the shoulder, because I feel those are played out. I don't know what to do with that aesthetic that hasn't been done.

Is Magic Mike aesthetically similar?
There's no handheld in Magic Mike, but it's a little more choreographed than either of these. There's more opportunity for movement. There are more scenes where there are multiple elements choreographed with the movement of the camera, it's a little more operatic.

I talked to Soderbergh this morning as part of a wide-ranging, hour-long roundtable interview, so there's much, much more where all that came from, including detailed discussions of fight scenes in Haywire, the reasons for his impending sabbatical from filmmaking (starting next spring when he's finished with the HBO biopic Liberace), his childhood shoplifting spree, his reasons for no longer writing his own scripts, and much, much more. You can read a few details about his other upcoming projects The Bitter Pill and Liberace from Matt Patches at Hollywood.com, and come back next week for the rest of this fascinating, enormous interview. Haywire opens in theaters next weekend.
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