Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Better living through chemistry.

Tonight, well, last Friday night (by the time I finish this), I had to get a CT scan. After ingesting the dye/delicious lemonade, I was finally summoned to the inner depths of the hospital. On our walk, the nurse half turned to me and very casually explained that my just-downed tasty beverage was only one of the dyes they needed. I was going to have to get another intravenously. Okay, fine. She then adds, matter-of-factly, It's going to feel like you're peeing your pants. But, you won't be actually peeing your pants. Hmm. Sounds good. Anyway, I get on the table, get my IV, slide quietly into the vast machine. And as I hear the slight whirring of modern medicine, I begin to feel a very strange sensation in the ol' crotchal region. Almost as if just my junk was being abducted by aliens. It was this exact moment where I thought, well, with two kids I probably don't even need it anymore.

Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects isn't about f--king, but it is about getting f--ked over. Pick a character in this sordid tale of depression and the drug industry, and at some point, they get completely screwed. In fact, you might feel a bit violated too, by the time the credits roll. It gets a little bit, um, crazy by the end.

Yet another man I find probably too interesting, Jude Law steadily anchors director Steven Soderbergh's (for now) final theatrical release. I've loved Lemony Snicket since he was Dickie Greenleaf. This guy, for my money, never disappoints.

Here, Law plays Dr. Jonathan Banks, a seemingly well-meaning and generally likable psychiatrist. Banks gets a new patient, the despondent Emily, played by the lovely Rooney Mara. Apparently, Emily isn't coping well with her husband's recent release from prison. As he acclimates himself back into society, she begins to withdraw altogether. With intermittent success as treatment rolls along, Banks recommends a new experimental drug to Emily. And from there, a seemingly straightforward psychological maniacally laughs in the face of the old 'double-cross' and opts for something closer to a triple cross. Maybe even a quadruple. Honestly, by the end, I was so hepped up on goofballs, I had no idea what was going on.

 I haven't seen enough of Soderbergh's fringe stuff to say that I'm a hardcore fan, but I definitely enjoy his work. Side Effects comfortably falls into the mainstream section of his portfolio. Sure, it's no Ocean's Eleven, but it sure as shit isn't Bubble, either. Like much of his work, Side Effects has got a great ensemble cast and tells a layered story. But here, the presentation is completely accessible. This film is shot and scripted like a regular Hollywood flick, not a hidden-camera show staged by the world's best cinematographers. I have always appreciated the chances that he takes. For me, backing off some of the less-traditional stuff, really pays off here.

Speaking of less-traditional pay offs, here are the Yays and Boos. And while I never take any pills, these two have been downing Zoloft like Raisinets. They're worried I'm shutting this whole endeavor down when the baby comes. That's funny, because my wife's concern is the opposite.

  • Clearly, I love me some Jude Law. But even better? Utterly vindictive Jude Law.
  • Rooney Mara. So elegant. Damn.
  • Moving on...how about the look on Mrs. Banks' face when Emily shows up before her interview! Priceless.
  • Speaking of good looks, glad Officer Beahan had his eyes open. That could've been nasty.
  • Welcome back, her sex drive. Seems we've all missed you. Even us in the audience.
  • Oh man, that scene Dr. Banks records? F--king awesome.
  • As was that little meeting between former psychiatrist and patient. Though the only thing shrinking was the available room. In my pants.
  • So juvenile...anyway...the final Yay, goes to Soderbergh himself. If this guy truly retires from making movies, let me, an idiot with a laptop, firmly tip my cap in his direction. This is a guy I truly respect, and I genuinely look forward to seeing every single one of his movies some day.
  • I wish there was a given situation that I could just kick ass in. For example, when Banks' stepson wakes up with a bad dream? Let's just say, it's handled.
  • My wife did a little jump/shriek combo twice during this one. One involved a car. The other? Magic Mike. This is only a Boo because I thought either scene might induce labor, thereby not allowing me to finish the film in its entirety.
  • Turns out, being attractive is actually a huge detriment in a massive legal shit-storm. Phew. Glad I'm in education.
  • As much as I adore Soderbergh, I honestly think he always lets one or two weak links wiggle their way into his ensembles. Here, I'm pointing the finger at Vinessa Shaw, who plays Dr. Banks' wife. Some of her scenes made me want to pop all kinds of anti-depressants.
  • And finally, somewhat seriously, I honestly don't understand depression at all. I know it's real, and I know it sucks, but it f--king baffles me. This movie did nothing to help me out either, damn it. I just wanted to shake Emily at first. Then I felt bad. Then? Well....you'll see.
Tomorrow morning, well, in just over 8 hours, me and my good doctor will be going over the results of that CT scan. This guy looks, sounds, and even moves exactly like Robert Duvall - seriously. So even if the news is bad, I'm still going to have a good time. I mean, who doesn't like Robert Duvall? He f--king rules.


  1. I'm sorry you had to have a CT scan -- that sounds like no fun. I hope everything is O.K. with you, health-wise. And the thought of anyone having his man-parts abducted by aliens makes my blood run cold. :-)

    I'm saving the film review portion of your post, since I'll be seeing this on DVD soon. I'll be back to read the review after I watch the movie. Yes, I do things backasswards that way.

    1. Ha, thanks Steph - everything is all good.

      Backasswards? Nah. I do the same thing all the time. Avoid anything post where the movie is in my immediate future. Which reminds me...

    2. So your test results were all good?? I'm relieved to hear that. :-)

      Side Effects is next in my Netflix queue. Mental health and psychiatry is actually a subject close to my heart, so I have a hunch I'll hate this movie. But I am really curious about it, and I'm always open minded about this film-maker because I liked Contagion and loved Traffic so much.

    3. The test was fine, thanks! I think it was a hysterical pregnancy.

      I really liked Contagion, too. I remember loving Traffic too, but the last time I saw that one was in the theaters.

  2. "Almost as if just my junk was being abducted by aliens" I seriously LOL'd at that. I really enjoyed Side Effects, it's still one of my favorites I've seen this year. I hope the results of your CT scan are good! I had to have one of those once, and the doctor doing it kept complaining about how long it was taking me to take my earrings out. Douche.

    1. Actually sitting here now, and everything is okay. Nothing noteworthy at all.

      Ah, that douche comment really cracked me up. My people were pretty cool, but it was Friday night and it seemed like everyone in the room just wanted the f--k out of there. Not that I could blame them.

      Side Effects was a good time for sure. I really liked it, though I'm not sure I even mentioned that in my post. What a douche.

  3. Glad you liked it as much as I did! Definitely one of the best films I've seen so far this year. I loved the scene with the "truth serum". I really need to give it a rewatch.

    By the way, even if you can't blog as much when the baby comes I sure hope you don't stop altogether. Even if you just post once a week or once every other I'll be happy! Good luck on your CT scan results.

    1. It was a blast. Almost lost me at the end, but it was a real good time. That Jude Law. Handsome devil. That scene f--king ruled.

      Thanks, Jess! I don't think I'll be able to ever fully stop, I'll probably just have to give up sleeping. And, the test was fine, thanks! I think the doc overreacted (he thought my appendix might burst!), but it's better than the other way, right?

      I'm making FTS my home page by the way, as I simply don't visit as much as I should.

  4. Good review M. It's a crazy-ass flick, but one that I had a bunch of fun with. The characters don't really go anywhere, but at least they keep you on-edge the whole time pretty much.

    1. Thanks, Dan.

      The last thirty minutes spiral into friggin' madness. It's great.

  5. I hope the results are good! I hate going to hospitals. It's so creepy there.

    You enjoyed that movie much more than I did - I thought they really screwed up the whole film by having that particular Magic Mike twist - because of that there was no clear protagonist and I was completely not interested in Emily. Mara did a good job and Law was great but the story was quite weak and her plan was so silly - all of that just for something like this? Going to prison and visiting this guy all those years? That's what was truly insane about her.

    1. Results, good. Hospitals, creepy. That about sums it up.

      Oh, c'mon! It was Jude Law's movie...right? At first it was Mara's...but it's definitely his. I think. Her plan wasn't that solid throughout, but I still like how it all kind of came together in the end.

  6. O.K. -- I'm back. Glad you've recovered from your hysterical pregnancy and no essential man-parts were stolen by aliens.

    I finally got around to seeing the movie, and I enjoyed it **a lot** less than I enjoyed reading this post. On the positive side, I agree that Rooney and Mara were quite good here. And your review is awesome and hilarious, as always. A few random comments:

    "Honestly, by the end, I was so hepped up on goofballs, I had no idea what was going on." Nope, I don't think it was the goofballs.

    "As was that little meeting between former psychiatrist and patient ..." O.K. -- that bit *really* cracked me up. I think The Hubby would've really dug that scene too. But methinks the girlie action wasn't nearly explicit enough to make it worth his sitting through the whole film.

    1. That junk abduction is serious business. Of all my parts to float away, they're near the bottom of the list.

      Anyway...I'm glad you liked the review. I dragged my feet for a long time writing this one until I was shoved in that CT machine. Then I could actually start it.

      On the subject of the all girl tickle-fight? Let me say that it definitely doesn't warrant seeing this film, it was an added bonus during that confusing ass ending. It was like seeing a childhood friend in a foreign country.