Bubble

Bubble MovieEarlier this week, I went to the Bijou (The University of Iowa’s indie/art film theater) to see Steven Soderbergh’s new film, Bubble. I’ve been a fan of his movies for a while (Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12, Traffic, The Limey, and others) so I was expecting to enjoy this one as well. Outside of the film’s director, this is the first in a series of 6 that will be released simultaneously in theaters, on tv, and on DVD at the same time. That was probably the most intriguing part of this movie to me. Soderbergh and his team have decided to break the mold and try something a very different by doing this type of release. I don’t think I’m the only one, but I like the idea of being able to chose the medium and viewing atmosphere of a newly released film instead of having to wait months (years?) to catch a film I missed in the theaters on DVD. Many theaters have boycotted the release of this movie claiming that, “It’s the biggest threat to the viability of the cinema industry today,” which is pretty crazy. I say anything that gives a viewer more choices is ultimately good. I can make a pretty good hamburger, but that sure doesn’t keep me from going to McDonald’s every now and then.

Anyway, back to the movie. Based on past Soderbergh movies and this special multi-format release, I was looking forward to seeing this film. Well… I was pretty disappointed. Let me preface this with: I have unique taste in movies (my friends will agree with that statement). I don’t think that my taste in movies is really too far outside the norm though. I didn’t really like this movie. Maybe I built up my expectations too much. One of the things Soderbergh said that he wanted to do with this series of films is use local talent, and makes them really place-specific. That’s evident with this movie; it takes place at doll factory in a small midwestern town. It was obvious to me that the “local talent” weren’t the best actors. They weren’t horrible (I’ve seen much worse), but there were several times when you felt like you were watching some amateur film, or poorly scripted home movie. I remember reading that much of the script for Bubble was improvised. At times that point is painfully obvious. Given that the acting in this film is a little below the mark, I can get by it. Like I said, I’ve seen much worse. That’s not the only area that this film falls short. The shooting also leaves a little bit to be desired. Again there were places where I wondered if I was watching a professionally produced film because it sure felt like I was watching a shaky shot that someone had made in their back yard with their wal-mart tripod. I like how Soderbergh shoots his films. He knows how to technically put a film together (quick shots in O11, the different use of colors in Traffic), but this movie just feels cheap. I can remember one shot in the front yard of the main character’s house that pans all the way around and has a little bump like someone accidently kicked the tripod as they were panning. Something like that just feels out of place in a professionally produced picture.

Setting aside the acting and shooting of this film. Yes, there were quite a few instances where both were lackluster, but both could be ignored. The story just wasn’t that great. I kept wondering to myself, when’s something going to happen? When is it going to start getting exciting? I knew (via the movie synopsis I’d read) that someone was going to get murdered, and knowing that it was only a 73 min. movie, I was getting anxious for it to happen (because I was getting bored with the poor improv acting?). Well, somebody finally died, and guess what, the movie didn’t get much more exciting. In wondering why this movie is like this, I’ve wondered if maybe Soderbergh did all of this (poor acting, poor shooting, poor story/plot???) on purpose to really hit home the slow simple life of the smaller midwestern town where this movie is set. But why would he? If that really was his intention, it really doesn’t add anything to the movie. It takes quite a bit away from it.

So… an interesting (and overdue?) distribution concept. I just hope the next film in this series has better actors/story/filming! I don’t think I’ll be able to sit through 6 Bubbles! I like being able to watch a newly released movie in whatever format I chose, but If had been watching this on TV, I think I would have changed the channel.

5 Comments

gravatar Jon

You want to see some bad acting? Check out “Death Race 2000”. It’s in my list of top 10 favorite movies.

–Jon

gravatar Frian Biddelke

I saw it too. (SEE SAW II ON DVD FEB 14! Just kidding, THAT was a terrible movie.. I just had to use the pun).

“..if maybe Soderbergh did all of this…on purpose to really hit home the slow simple life of the smaller Midwestern town..”

Maybe he did aim for this and maybe intended it to be an eye opener for so-called city-slickers. I kind of doubt it though, as I have a feeling their (city-slickers)lives are just as “slow & simple” as small-towners. The two characters whom we were first introduced to both seemed like their wake up-work-sleep-repeat-lives were depressing. I think a pretty good illustration of this is the scene where the fat lady was sitting in the church alone until dark. That’s not totally ordinary. Based on the stats, ” 9.5% of the adult population in the United States of America suffers from clinical depression “. Where am I going with this? Maybe just maybe Soderbergh was trying to get this point across? I don’t really think he intended any deeper meaning that what was presented on screen, but I think my rational makes it seem slightly better. Take it for what it’s worth. Also, if you watched the alternate/extended ending, it made the 1st ending seem slightly better too. I’m not going to ruin it for everyone unless someone requests of me to do so. During most of the movie I was doing some minor wood working, so I think that’s how I managed not be bitten by the “is something going to happen? Bug”. When I described this movie to someone else, I said, “it was really slow, but short, but far from exciting by all means. Also, I’d say it’s like watching a TV show that you don’t really like when you’re home from school sick, and there is nothing else on but “CSPAN 2 Book TV”. Which according to what you said, seems like a pretty accurate assessment.

gravatar Frian Biddelke

Forgot to add…. I don’t think it could have been in a more bizzare setting. Ever seen the trailor?Lots of infant heads laying about? W I E R D.

gravatar Scott

Brian: Another nice thing about releasing the movie in different formats. The DVD version gives you the chance to see those alternate endings and deleted scenes where the TV or theatrical versions don’t. Even though I’m curious about the alternate ending, I don’t think I’d bother with the DVD after the bad taste that the (theatrical release) movie left in my mouth.

If Soderbergh did make the movie slow and boring on purpose to illustrate the slow boring life of that town, I think it took away from the movie more than it added.

gravatar Frian Biddelke

word. At the end (the longer ending) the fat lady is found passed out, goes to the Dr., and he says she has a malignant tumor and it possibly causes personality changes, nervousness, forgetfullness, blah blah blah because it’s so large and that she’ll die because of it. The end.

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