Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’ and ‘Contagion’

Sound on Sight Podcast #304

No year is complete without at least one new Soderbergh vehicle, and despite his proclaimed status of sorta-retirement, 2012 will bring two of them; the first is the Gina Carano-powered actioner Haywire, which reteams him with Limey / Kafka scribe Lem Dobbs. (We’ll have to wait a little longer for his “Channing Tatum, Male Stripper” flick Magic Mike.) The whole gang is here to dissect the surprisingly divisive thriller, along with one that slipped through the SOS cracks last year, Contagion.

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By Sound On Sight Podcast

The Sound On Sight podcast was launched in late 2008 from the ashes of a radio show titled, The Naked Lunch, a show which aired on CJLO, 1690 AM in Montreal. Our podcast is marketed principally towards students and genre enthusiasts, and typically features in-depth discussion and debate on contemporary film. Throughout the years, the podcast has been nominated one of the best film shows world wide by several outlets including, MovieMaker Magazine.

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9 Responses to Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Haywire’ and ‘Contagion’

  1. Justine February 25, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    I think Ricky you thought I should say more on Contagion, so here were some added thoughts not worthy of a new post:

    I recently ran across an article or forum post (don’t remember where), asking “Why isn’t Contagion Oscar bait?” As with most conversations surrounding the term, the conversation becomes a petty argument of “it is” or “it is not”. It is a sense, a feeling, an impulse. It is usually a disparaging comment, people don’t usually say, “The Blind Side is the best movie of the year, it’s such a brilliant work of Oscar bait” unless they literally bathe in irony. I think most people can agree that the Oscar-bait film feigns social or cultural importance. They are films that SEEM important, but are more often than not un-challenging and uphold the audience’s self-worth. I won’t get into the fact that films about the potential annihilation of the human race are rarely considered for awards because they are often they are “downers” for your typical awards show voter (old white men). I mean, it’s not like Contagion offers pat conclusions like “racism is over, mostly!” or an even more assuring “everyone is racist, even the coloureds!”. In some ways, it disrupts outright contradicts many of our daily “comforts”, suggesting that humanity is not so in control of nature. Soderbergh presents a rather clinical examination of a pandemic in the contemporary world, and in this universe even movie-stars like Kate Winslet can die. Surely, old white men are among the most likely victims of something like that with all the hand-shaking, cheek kissing and the vulnerable immune systems of the elderly. Soderbergh’s whole formal career is bent on this disruption, a film that subverts expectations of genre and narrative storytelling, in this case as a means of exploring a subject as a series of case studies. What I love about it in particular, is that it really takes the multiple storyline approach of Altman and brings it to a new generic milieu. One of Altman’s most interesting films, Gosford Park is perhaps the most potent example in his career of this multi-character formal work within the conventions of genre and it somehow brings to the forefront the most peculiar reactions, ideas and suggestions about the cinematic medium, in particular spectatorship.

    Reply
  2. tmack February 2, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Haywire was simply pointless not only as a film but also as a PPV fight film. It perhaps is the only film I’ve seen this year that I pondered asking for my money back. It didn’t even impress me stylistically and I was insulted watching a lead character who was totally bereft of acting skills. Surely Soderbergh decided to play a joke on his fans, testing us to see whether we’d appreciate anything with his name on it.

    There’s no comparison to Jason Bourne films, no comparison to Redbelt, no comparison to Point Blank with Lee Marvin. What’s surprising is that we all know that Soderbergh is capable of intriguing filmmaking, and I cannot believe that he watched his own film and felt proud enough of it to release it as his film. I didn’t even think the fight scenes were worthwhile. Compare the fight scenes in Haywire to those in Redbelt.

    What’s even worse is that critics didn’t sufficiently pan this film to warn me away from paying $7 to see it. Do I sound pissed? I am.

    Reply
  3. Msrkeee January 27, 2012 at 7:58 am

    What was the song that was played towards the beginning?

    Reply
    • Ricky February 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm

      which song? in the movie or the podcast?

      Reply
  4. Simply Branden January 25, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Awesome show everyone, this podcast always offers great insights! I think Simon made an excellant point in saying this should have been dumber. The fight scenes were spectacular but maybe a bit too few and far between. The actual story is so thin that many scenes actually came across dull (I feel horrible saying this but some of the more languid scenes here actually did remind of scenes from Ocean’s 12), this movie felt a great deal longer than 90 minutes. But it’s hard for me to imagine what changes to make because I also agree with Justine that Gina Carrano’s character does come off (for the most part) as a rare credible female action hero whose beauty is really beside the point, maybe if it was dumber her character would not have worked as well. Unfortunately there was nothing particularly compelling here which brings me back to Simon’s point. The movie looked beautiful, I loved the music and it’s absence during the fight scenes but despite the believablility in Carrano’s character she was not especially interesting, nor was the storyline. The artistic touches mentioned such as the color, photography and music are necessary because without them, the scenes without fighting would not work. I know it is strange to speculate on removing a component that comes prepackaged with the film but my point is it seemed they were done only to enhance very thin content and mask it’s shortcomings. At the same time these are the very touches which diminish the action oriented direct to video aspects. Because of this I felt the movie tries several different things without really succeeding at any of them (except, again, the fight scenes). I think this is what general audiences have been frustrated by as well. In the end I did not really enjoy this but it is a very interesting film and I was glad to hear everyone’s viewpoints. I do feel oddly compelled to watch it again so maybe my second impression will be different. Contagion was good, I like Soderbergh.

    Reply
    • Simply Branden January 25, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      Sorry, I just realized I spelled Gina Carano’s name wrong. One would think that since I could simply scroll up this type of mistake would not have happened but…. I must also apologize for some funky punctuation!

      Reply
  5. Mike OKC January 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Totally agree with the irish dude!! it sucked!!!

    Reply
  6. Ian (Ireland) January 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Hey guys,

    ok what is going on with Haywire?? the critics seem to be so in love with this movie but anyone i have spoken to hates this movie (including myself). I have to say i thought it was very bad. heres proof as well, national website in ireland gives it 4 out of 5 then read the comments below, only one positive comment?? I think the SOS crew have got this one wrong. see below

    http://www.rte.ie/ten/2012/0119/haywire.html

    any sign of a Guy Ritchie podcast would love to know what you think of “Lock stock” and “Snatch” two personal favs :-)

    Reply
  7. Mario in Philly January 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Justine makes a very going point about caring for the characters played by stars. Richard Dyer’s first book “Stars” (1979) talks about this very thing. The viewer already has a familiarity and an investment in the character because of our familiarity with the actor, whether we like them or not. We bring this to the movie and it colors our perception even if we don’t realize it. So, you would tend to feel more sorry for Gwyneth Paltrow’s character because we already know her. It definitely would be a different movie with an unknown cast.
    If you are interested in movie and/or gay theory, check out Richard W. Dyer’s writings (or Wiki page) in books like “Stars,” “Heavenly Bodies,” “Now You See It,” and “Brief Encounter,” which he wrote about the movie for the BFI series of books. Fun stuff for any movie geek (like me.) :)

    Reply

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