Friday, January 27, 2006

Bursting the Bubble

Just finished watching the HDNet premiere of Steven Soderbergh's Bubble. This new film also premiered tonight in select theaters around the country and it will be out on DVD on Tuesday. It's Mark Cuban's new film distribution brainchild, getting its kick-start tonight.

Bubble certainly wasn't your everyday Hollywood production. Far from it, in fact.

One's first clue to how different this movie really is was the acting. Soderbergh used untrained actors - regular people, if you will - for the entire cast. Some performed better than others. And while I suppose it added an aura of normalcy to the story, I thought the use of non-actors detracted from the emotional depth of the characters. It seemed that the dialogue was forced through much of the first half of the film. Certainly not what one would expect from a professional film production.

That said, this clearly wasn't intended to be a standard Hollywood production. As Soderbergh himself has said, this was meant to be something different, something unusual, something out of the mainstream. And it certainly was.

What I did like about the film was the cinematography. It was very well done in the way it used a variety of angles, depths and imagery to portray the poor, small town setting, the unusual doll factory and the implied thoughts of the characters. The high definition filming also looked wonderful on a large-screen HD television. Soderbergh's consistent use of natural lighting also imbued most scenes with a sense of realism, like this could be happening in anyone's neighborhood.

The plot itself was a bit bland and shallow. Clearly, we've seen much more interesting storylines in a Scooby Doo cartoon. Soderbergh says that he was interested in playing out the repetitive and monotonous nature of a small town, dead-end factory job against the backdrop of friendship, jealousy and murder. I see his point, but I'm not sure that it came through as strongly as he might have liked. The shallowness of the characterizations made it difficult to feel empathy - or anything else - for the people in the film. It was almost like watching a reality-based documentary without the accompanying analysis.

Did I like the film? I'd have to say no.

Was it interesting? Somewhat. Entertaining? No. While it may have been fun for Soderbergh and crew to make Bubble, it just wasn't much fun to watch.

So I will give Bubble 2 out of a possible 5 drewl buckets. I would have given it just one drewl bucket, but I'm willing to give Soderbergh some slack on this one.

Soderbergh has five more flicks planned for Mark Cuban's and Todd Wagner's 2929 Productions, all of which will be shown on HDNet, in theaters and distributed on DVD at virtually the same time. Hopefully his others will be more interesting than his first.


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