According to Steven Soderbergh, this is the last feature film he intends to direct, which I find hard to believe given that, between September 2011 and this one coming out, earlier this year, he directed four movies (and, since his "retirement" hasn't precluded his making the sublime Behind the Candelabra, premiering on HBO Sunday AND YOU BETTER BE PLANNING TO WATCH).
But let's pretend Soderbergh means it: As a finale to a filmography as celebrated and varied as Soderbergh's, Side Effects is not so grand, but it's worth seeing. Rooney Mara plays a young woman dealing with the return of her husband (Channing Tatum) from prison, where he was serving a sentence on some kind of financial hoo-ha; Jude Law is the psychiatrist who treats her after she starts showing signs of a mental breakdown, and who soon comes to think she may be a more complicated patient than he'd thought. The plot is satisfyingly twisty, and if Mara never plays anything but barely stable waifs from now on (see also: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), we'll probably all be just fine with that.
Surprise, surprise: Very few people said the words "I simply must go see the disgraced former governor of California palling around with a dude who used to get his nuts Tasered on a regular basis" this weekend. In other words: The Last Stand, Arnold's big post– politics and secret-love-child-with-nanny return to the multiplex, flopped at the box office, managing only $6.3 million and a 10th-place finish. My opinion? Johnny Knoxville should have been wearing a dumber hat.
Silver: This is almost unbelievable. World War Z is a $100 million-plus major studio summer tentpole staring one of the world's biggest stars, and there isn’t a single original or unique moment in its first trailer. The drama around the release date delay and extensive reshoots aside, this film appears to be a greatest-hits version of Roland Emmerich’s filmography:
Silver: Why is my excitement for this at The Hobbit and new episodes of Arrested Development levels? Because, in my opinion, writer/director Martin McDonagh is as close to a literary savant as my generation has ever had. He’s a playwright turned filmmaker whose first feature, In Bruges, was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar. With that film, he skillfully appropriated his highly engaging, engrossing, and often disturbing style and humor from the stage with such plays as The Leenane Trilogy, The Aran Islands Trilogy, The Pillowman, and A Behanding in Spokane. And similar to In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths seems like it will ground itself in a simple genre (Bruges is to British Gangster Flick as Psychopaths is to Caper Comedy), but will inevitably play within that construct by utilizing multiple dramatic forms and tools to create a film that is truly distinctive. Onstage or onscreen, actors like Farrell, Rockwell, and Walken have all proven themselves to be as comfortable with McDonagh’s method, and are to his work as William H. Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon are to David Mamet’s. And if none of this has convinced you that Seven Psychopaths is worth seeing, will the promise of Tom Waits casually sitting on a brick fence petting a rabbit do it for you?
In a logical move, Lionsgate, the studio behind tomorrow's presumptively weekend-exploding Expendables 2, has just released the trailer for Last Stand, Arnold Schwarzenegger's post-Governatorial, solo comeback vehicle. (A vehicle, it seems, that's got a giant cow-catcher A-Teamed to the front bumper as it hurtles toward a January 2013 release. But we digress.) It makes perfect sense to tie Stand to Expendables 2's release given Schwarzenegger's prominent role in the latter; it would feel like promotional malpractice to do otherwise.
Gloves On: Presumably tired of doing premium-cable charity work on Damages and Bored to Death, Ted Danson has signed on to replace Laurence Fishburne on CSI, as the leader of a team of graveyard-shift homicide investigators (after Tony Shaloub, Robin Williams and John Lithgow reportedly passed on the part). Let's hope CBS is paying him Ted Danson money. Grade: B+ [Deadline, EW]
Brides Paid: In Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig poop-joked her way to the best reviews and box office of Judd Apatow's career. Now she's using her clout to make Imogene, a dark-sounding comedy (?), from American Splendor directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, about a playwright who fakes a suicide attempt to win back an ex-boyfriend, but instead winds up in the custody of her gambling-addicted mom. The movie is described as a "passion project" for Wiig, which probably means it will include fewer weddings and diarrhea attacks than her last. Still, we're looking forward to this one. Grade: A [HR]