This week’s movie releases
Channing Tatum reveals all as a male stripper in Steven Soderbergh's 'Magic Mike'
Liam Neeson cracks more skulls in 'Taken 2'
In his brilliantly eclectic career, director Steven Soderbergh has made star-studded caper movies (the Ocean’s series); tackled virus outbreaks (Contagion); profiled revolutionary icons (Che); revamped Soviet sci-fi (Solaris); and paid homage to classic Hollywood (The Good German). So what’s left but a male-stripping movie? Magic Mike stars Channing Tatum — who once plied the trade himself — as the star of an all-male revue run by Matthew McConaughey. At the same time as Tatum schools Alex Pettyfer (I Am Number Four) in the tricks of his trade, he’s also drawn to the youngster’s sister, only for his unorthodox life to get in the way.
Keeping his clothes on, Liam Neeson heads back to the movie that kick-started his mid-career renaissance as a no-nonsense action hero. The preposterous but deliciously entertaining Taken (2008) had the Irish star rampaging through Paris, cracking skulls and snapping limbs, in dogged pursuit of his kidnapped daughter (Maggie Grace). Think Roman Polanski’s Frantic, but even more frantic. In Taken 2, again written and produced by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), a colleague of one of the human traffickers killed in the first film takes Neeson’s wife (Famke Janssen) hostage in Istanbul, leaving the ex-CIA man and his “very particular set of skills” to sort things out again.
Also offering no-frills thrills is Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth entry in the videogame-based zombie action franchise. Once again written, produced and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, it finds series star — and Anderson’s other half — Milla Jovovich escaping from the top-secret underwater base of the Umbrella Corporation, the nefarious firm responsible for the T-virus that unleashed a zombie plague on Earth.
Sleeping to the top
The Twilight Saga’s Robert Pattinson plays a manipulative, amoral journalist sleeping his way to the top of Parisian society in Bel Ami, an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 novel directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod of the Cheek by Jowl theater company. Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci also star.
Also challenging conventional ethics, former American gigolo Richard Gere stars as a billionaire hedge-fund manager ensnared by his own web of fraud, infidelity and death in debutant director Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage. With Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth and Laetitia Casta.
In Spanish-language anthology movie 7 Days in Havana, seven directors — Benicio del Toro, Pablo Trapero, Julio Medem, Elia Suleiman, Gaspar Noé, Juan Carlos Tabío and Laurent Cantet — offer seven vignettes seeking to capture the energy and vitality of the Cuban capital.