Our film critic reviews the week’s new releases
MORE Saturday Night Fever than The Full Monty, Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper opus Magic Mike has more to offer than grinding crotch shots of its abdominally perfect stars. Instead it’s also a slyly funny, slick and subversive drama that plays around with the tropes of the Star is Born-story and makes them relevant to today’s harsh economic climate. With the film loosely based on his own experiences, Channing Tatum is brilliant as the eponymous stripper who is beginning to realise that his entrepreneurial aspirations are starting to take a backseat to what’s supposed to be an income-generating sideline. As the star attraction of XQuisite – an erotic dance review run by Matthew McConaughey’s amusingly sleazy club owner/dancer – he’s got women on tap, cash in his pocket and opportunities to become a partner in the business. But as he starts to mentor a college dropout called Alex (Alex Pettyfer), the relish with which this monstrous prodigy takes to their sleazy environs opens his eyes to how unsuited he really is to this life. It’s a fascinating spin on a tried-and-tested formula and Soderbergh’s shooting style is amusingly inventive.
“If I catch anyone playing a metaphor, they’re fired.” Walter Hill, there, revealing the motivational tactics he used to get the cast of his 1981 B-movie classic Southern Comfort out of the mindset of viewing the film as a comment on Vietnam. He’s speaking as part of the new 45-minute interview that comprises the sole – but entertainingly spiky – extra on this Blu-ray release, and it’s a treat to see that Hill is as no-nonsense in person as his films are on screen, especially since Southern Comfort remains the best expression of his brand of terse, tough-guy cinema. Revolving around a group of Louisiana National Guardsmen being picked off by hunters deep in the bayous, it stands up as a cracking, tension-heavy and eerily atmospheric action film, one that went on to sow the seeds for James Cameron’s Aliens (which Hill and co-writer David Giler co-wrote and produced). That it also features Ry Cooder’s finest score just adds to its appeal, with haunting, minimalist guitar adding a dreamlike quality to the nightmare in which these soldiers (led by Keith Carradine and Powers Booth) find themselves.
• Magic Mike, Lionsgate, £19.99; Southern Comfort, Second Sight, £15.99
• To order these DVDs, call The Scotsman on 01634 832789