Steven Soderbergh has definitely has an interesting career. His first film Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989) won the Palme D’or at Cannes and would set the pace for Soderbergh as an extremely talented and versatile director. Of his films, I’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Solaris (2002) which for the love of God please never watch, Ocean’s Twelve (2004), Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) and finally Magic Mike (2012) as well as his recent TV show The Knick which was a pleasant surprise considering he was supposed to be on hiatus. You can see that unless I wanted to bore you all and start talking about the Ocean movies or do a ‘500 things I hate about Solaris’ post which I could write without trying, it doesn’t leave me with much choice.
No matter, because I love Magic Mike and I have re-watched it sooo many times. Sometimes, after a long hard week you just want to watch pretty men dance for you (that would be the ‘obvious’ thing I like about the film), but it is not Fifty Shades of Grey (2014) and it certainly isn’t Step Up (2006) nor is it an amalgamation of the two. It is so much more.
1. The film was produced for the female viewer
My academic film background is making me stress that I am referring to the straight female viewer. Not that lesbian women and straight men wouldn’t be able to enjoy Channing Tatum’s fierce moves, but they may not quite enjoy them in the same way as intended.
The avid film fans among you will have no doubt heard of ‘the male gaze’ as first put forward by Laura Mulvey’s 1975 article Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema (are you still there, readers?). Her article has several problems, but generally she put forward the idea that Hollywood film is produced with the male spectator in mind. This suggests that since the golden age of cinema, female viewers have been watching films with men in mind. NO MORE! Magic Mike is a film made for a female audience which not many films outside of the romantic comedy genre have yet to achieve. . We’ve got a long way to go yet, boys and girls.
2. Not only that, Magic Mike actually thinks about what women want
And no, I am not referring to the god awful Mel Gibson film where he gets electrocuted wearing make-up and begins to hear women’s thoughts and therefore ‘what women want’ but I mean that Magic Mike genuinely thinks about what women find sexy. Firemen, policemen, various other servicemen roles are all great to an extent but do you know what’s really hot? Channing Tatum stripping from a blummin’ hoodie and jogging pants in a well rehearsed hip hop dance. Yeah, who knew?! But that wouldn’t have happened by accident.
3. There’s actual thought gone into the aesthetics
Like, I know right? And this is a ‘dance’ movie! You notice especially when Mike & Adam are sitting on the roof of a house near the beginning of the film, there’s a strong, sandy yellow filter which not only screams ‘THIS IS FLORIDA!’ but that it’s not the vibrant, lux Florida you might associate with expensive beach houses and bright red convertibles, but that we’re in another side of Florida. The characters of this film are working day in, day out in the sun and they’re not rich. This sandy yellow also extends to the rest of the film, giving it a visually dusky edge that you might not expect in a, ahem ‘dance’ movie.
4. The dark edge can also be seen in the narrative
Poverty, corruption, gangs, drugs, cheap PVC trench coats; you didn’t see any of that in the hit 2003 dance film Honey. The dark side of Magic Mike was applauded in reviews and is what has given the film staying power. Without new recruit Adam’s flaky and irresponsible sensibilities that allowed Mike to show his grown-up and likeable side, the film would merely be about handsome men getting their clothes off and what a shambles of a film that would have been. Let’s hope Soderbergh has been a source inspiration for fluffy dance film makers of the future.
5. Mcconaughey wearing THIS…
I mean, is that a genius costume or is that a genius costume? I fully support the idea that Mcconaughey could wear a floral swimsuit from Marks & Spencer’s with a built in skirt and still pull it off.
But I hate… The terrible casting choice of Mike’s love interest
I wouldn’t like to end this post on a bad note… but where the hec did the casting director find this bland glass of water? I get she needed to be slightly uptight to disapprove of her kid brother forging a career in stripping, I also get that she had to be slightly unattainable for there to be some sort of ‘chase’ for her and Mike, but was it really necessary for her to be so boring and uninteresting too? I’m all kinds of glad she wasn’t in Magic Mike XXL (2015).
What did you think of Magic Mike? Did you like it as much as I did or are you a non-believer?