Tag Archives: Steven Soderbergh

Kimi (2022) Review

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Kimi

Time: 89 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] 
Cast:
Zoë Kravitz as Angela Childs
Director: Steven Soderbergh

A tech worker with agoraphobia discovers recorded evidence of a violent crime, but is met with resistance when she tries to report it. Seeking justice, she must do the thing she fears the most: she must leave her apartment.

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I heard about Kimi, Steven Soderbergh’s next movie starring Zoe Kravitz in the lead role. I heard some very positive things about it, and I was interested. I was surprised at how great it was, an effective thriller with tense sequences. It’s short and sweet and good for what it is.

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Kimi is tightly and sharply written, very well constructed and put together. It really is the paranoid surveillance thriller updated for the modern age. The movie puts you right in the position of the protagonist played by Zoe Kravitz, you really feel her anxiety and everything she goes through. One thing very notable aspect about the movie is it takes place during the COVID-19 pandemic and incorporates that into the plot. While that might give some people pause considering the numerous unwanted movies based around the pandemic that have been releasing over the past couple of years, I thought Kimi handled it well and it didn’t feel heavy handed. It felt appropriate enough for the movie, and while it could’ve worked without the pandemic aspect, it does somewhat add to the character’s fear of going outside. The pacing is pretty smooth, there is a steady build up in the first act as it establishes the setting and the main character, some might be bored with that first section, but I thought that it achieved what it needed to. However, it really picks up after the first act when the protagonist is forced to leave her apartment. The final act is satisfying but a bit out of place and was very different in tone, like it is from a different movie. The ending was fine but also did feel a bit too neat and tidy. At 89 minutes Kimi is short and sweet. It could’ve been longer and explored the themes and topics it briefly touches upon over the course of the movie, but I do really like how straightforward and simple it was.

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Zoe Kravitz is in the lead role, and this is very likely her best performance yet. Playing a tech worker with agoraphobia, Kravitz keeps you hooked from beginning to end. She conveys her anxiety effectively and her physicality is particularly effective, especially when she’s walking and running around outside. So much of this movie is riding on her performance, and she more than delivers. I will say that the rest of the cast aren’t anything special and are serviceable at best. However, this is really Kravitz’s movie.

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Steven Soderbergh’s direction is strong, very stylish and unique. Soderbergh is excellent at building up tension, particularly with the use of visuals and sound. The camerawork is fantastic with effective camera angles, particularly with amazing uses of low angle shots (mainly during the chase scenes). It has impressive and immersive sound design, little things like sound changes when Kravitz puts on or removes headphones just really add to the experience. Also helping is the solid score from the ever-reliable Cliff Martinez, whose score really add something to the tone and feeling of the movie.

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Kimi is a tense and tight thriller, very well constructed on a writing and directing front, made better by an incredible lead performance from Zoe Kravitz. There are some issues like the third act feeling out of place and most of the supporting cast being fine at best. Outside of that, it is really good and worth checking out.

No Sudden Move (2021) Review

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No Sudden Move

Time: 115 Minutes
Cast:
Don Cheadle as Curt Goynes
Benicio del Toro as Ronald Russo
David Harbour as Matt Wertz
Jon Hamm as Detective Joe Finney
Amy Seimetz as Mary Wertz
Brendan Fraser as Doug Jones
Kieran Culkin as Charley
Noah Jupe as Matthew Wertz Jr.
Craig Grant as Jimmy
Julia Fox as Vanessa Capelli
Frankie Shaw as Paula Cole
Ray Liotta as Frank Capelli
Bill Duke as Aldrick Watkins
Director: Steven Soderbergh

In 1954 Detroit, small-time criminals are hired to steal a document. When their heist goes horribly wrong, their search for who hired them — and for what purpose – sends them wending through all echelons of the race-torn, rapidly changing city.

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I was interested in No Sudden Move for the talent involved alone. This is Steven Sodebergh’s latest movie, I like the movies from him that I’ve seen, and this would be another crime movie from him.  Not only that but it has a fully stacked cast including Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro, so I definitely wanted to check out. I was expecting an entertaining watch, and it turned out even better than I was expecting.

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No Sudden Move has a tightly written and solid script, making for a really good crime thriller. It is tense, smart, intriguing and filled with twists and turns, which you would expect from a Steven Soderbergh movie. Not only that but it also manages to balance the humour and playfulness with the engaging intensity and grittiness of the story and setting, and I was enthralled the entire way through. The dialogue is particularly strong, it is witty which you would expect from a Soderbergh movie, but its also very reminiscent of a classic noir film in the way everything is written. There’s even some social commentary on display, mainly towards corporate greed, classism and particularly with a lot of cynicism towards automobile industry corruption. That really only comes out strongly towards the end of the movie, but even without it, No Sudden Move works as a twisty crime thriller. It’s not exactly tightly paced but it moves well over its 2 hour runtime.

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There is a large ensemble cast and everyone brought their A-game to their performances. Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro are in the lead roles, and they are great in their parts. David Harbour gives one of his best performances in his supporting role, and Brendan Fraser makes a strong impression in his screentime. Other supporting actors like Kieran Culkin, Jon Hamm, Ray Liotta and more all work in their parts. There’s even a surprise major actor who appears in a key role near the end, who actually works very well for his part.

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There is some very solid filmmaking from Steven Soderbergh here. This is easily one of his best shot films with its eye catching cinematography, and the lenses give it the 50s noir aesthetic with the right amount of grain, setting the period correctly. It is a very stylish movie that’s really nice to look at. The score from David Holmes is nice too, adding a lot to the mood and feeling of the movie, especially with the era it is set in.

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No Sudden Move is a consistently entertaining, smart and stylish crime thriller, well written and directed, and with some great performances from the amazing cast. One of Steven Soderbergh’s best films, especially in recent years.

Unsane (2018) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Claire Foy as Sawyer Valentini
Joshua Leonard as David Strine
Jay Pharoah as Nate Hoffman
Juno Temple as Violet
Aimee Mullins as Ashley Brighterhouse
Amy Irving as Angela Valentini
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) relocates from Boston to Pennsylvania to escape from the man who’s been stalking her for the last two years. While consulting with a therapist, Valentini unwittingly signs in for a voluntary 24-hour commitment to the Highland Creek Behavioral Center. Her stay at the facility soon gets extended when doctors and nurses begin to question her sanity. Sawyer now believes that one of the staffers is her stalker — and she’ll do whatever it takes to stay alive and fight her way out.

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I had been hearing some praise for Unsane for a while. Steven Soderbergh is a great director and with Unsane, in secret he created a thriller entirely filmed with an iPhone. Also, Claire Foy, who has proven herself to be a great actress in The Crown, was cast in the lead role. So naturally I was quite interested in the movie. Unsane is a great thriller, with solid direction from Soderbergh, a simple and contained plot that works and an excellent lead performance from Claire Foy.

Unsane is about an hour and 30 minutes long and that was a good length overall for the movie. It is a simple movie with a straightforward plot but yet it’s quite effective with what its doing. The movie keeps you glued from start to finish. For me at least the movie doesn’t really do anything new plot wise, and it didn’t particularly surprise me immensely, but that’s not necessarily a criticism of the film, as the execution of this plot is more its strong point. From the point that Claire Foy is stuck inside the behavioural centre, most of the film is set just on that location so it feels very contained. For the most part, this movie feels very grounded and set in reality. The only out of place moment was in the third act when the stalker character does something very surprising and implausible and there’s not real logical explanation for how he can do it, except that he’s supernatural or something. Outside of that I don’t really have a real problem about the rest of the plot. The only other out of place moment was a minute long Matt Damon cameo but that was more distracting than anything else.

Claire Foy is the main star of the show and she absolutely kills it here. She displays a lot of range and goes all in when portraying her character. You really feel how she’s feeling as the film progresses as she constantly comes across many issues. We also get to see her character’s issues and her past which show why she acts and reacts the way she does. With this performance and The Crown, Claire Foy has proven herself to be once again a great actress. Foy’s stalker was also played very well by Joshua Leonard, managing to give a constant uncomfortable feeling throughout when he’s on screen. Leonard was in The Blair Witch Project but outside of that has just been in smaller movies, so it’s nice to see him get to show off here. The rest of the cast also do well in their roles but it’s mostly Claire Foy and Joshua Leonard who stand out, particularly Foy.

Of course one of the things about this movie that is most known is that it was shot entirely with an iPhone. The movie feels really self contained, with most of it taking place inside one building, and what happens and what we see feels all the more real. So in a sense, the use of filming with an iPhone does add to the movie. With that said… Unsane didn’t necessarily need to be filmed on an iPhone. It seems like an experiment to see whether it would work. Sure it does add in some ways with a lot of the scenes feeling a little more real but aside from that there wasn’t really much point in doing that for this movie. Also you can still tell that’s it’s filmed on an iPhone, you don’t really forget about it, it’s just that it didn’t matter and wasn’t as distracting (even if it is noticeable at times).

Unsane is a pretty great an effective thriller, and Claire Foy with her performance here looks at being one of the best actresses working today. It’s very simple and straightforward thriller, and isn’t going to rank among the best thrillers of all times, but it’s probably one of Steven Soderbergh’s best films (at least of all the movies I’ve seen from him), and for it’s simple concept, the execution is quite effective. Unsane is definitely worth checking out when you can.