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Full Frontal - Preview



Preview by: Jack Foley

STEVEN Soderbergh may now be the king of the intelligent Hollywood blockbuster (what with the upcoming Polaris, this year’s Ocean’s Eleven remake and the Oscar-laden double-whammy of Traffic and Erin Brockovich), but he has decided to return to his indie roots for his latest venture.

Full Frontal marks a return to Sex, Lies and Videotape form - the film which first shot the young director to prominence in 1989, and marked his card as a director to watch.

Starring an ensemble of some of Hollywood’s finest, plus a smattering of the director’s favourites, the movie finds Julia Roberts playing a magazine journalist who shows up on the set of a new movie to interview Blair Underwood’s TV star, who has just received his Big Screen break.

Former X-Files star, David Duchovny, plays the producer of the film, who celebrates his 40th birthday during the shoot, while the esteemed likes of Catherine (Being John Malkovich) Keener, playing a callous HR vice-president who terminates employees to relieve her marital stress, Mary McCormack and David Hyde Pierce also co-star.

There are also rumoured to be camoes from the likes of David Fincher and Brad Pitt (playing themselves), as well as plenty of wry observations about the state of the dating game, sex and love in typically well-observed fashion.

The movie is one of those being featured at this year’s Regus London Film Festival and is almost certain to be one of its biggest draws.

However, when it opened in America earlier this year, it was greeted with a decidedly lukewarm response, drawing more mixed reviews than either positives or negatives (see right).

Soderbergh, in subsequent interviews, has since accused many US critics of missing the point of it and will be hoping to jettison back into orbit with the release of Solaris, a film which re-unites him with the ever-dependable George Clooney.

What the US critics said…

The mixed reaction which greeted Full Frontal from American audiences is, perhaps, best captured in the Chicago Tribune’s verdict on the film, which described it as ‘just pleasant and inconsequential. And forgettable’.

But Entertainment Weekly, which awarded it a B-, went a step further, saying that it ‘would be more rewarding … were it not so besotted with its own delights and tricks’, and the Hollywood Reporter was disappointed to find that ‘nothing is truly new here’.

LA Weekly felt that the movie is ‘fragmented, elliptical and overplotted to the point of being hard to track’, while the New York Post accused it of being ‘self-indulgent — and too often deadly dull’, awarding it two out of four stars.

The New York Times, meanwhile, elaborated still further, saying it ‘could almost be classified as a movie-industry satire, but it lacks the generous inclusiveness that is the genre's definitive, if disingenuous, feature’.

On a slightly more upbeat note was Rolling Stone, which posted the following conclusion: "Is it a total success? No. Is it something any true film addict will want to check out? You bet."

Salon, meanwhile, politely referred to it as ‘[a] funny mess’.

Seattle Weekly seemed all for it, saying that ‘in a content-free summer of multiplex fodder, the movie still comes as a bracing slap against convention’.

However, for every good thing to say, there was a scathing counter-reaction. The New Yorker, for instance, said that it was ‘perhaps the most naively awful movie I've seen from the hand of a major director’, while the final word goes to E! Online, which (tongue in cheek) concluded that Full Frontal… ‘falls short of arousing much of anything’.

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