Magic Mike 2012 ★★★★★

Excellent character piece from Steven Soderbergh. My favourite of his films since 1998's Out Of Sight.

Among the chiselled abs, glistening buns and thrusting phalluses there's a fantastic central performance from Channing Tatum that manages to convey the internal struggle he has about his chosen career as a stripper in contrast with his artistic aspirations as an artisan furniture maker.

In spite of, or because of, the yellow filter over the entire thing it looks fantastic. There's a real sense of location both interior and exterior. Some fascinatingly structured shots make it a joy to look at.

The sense of a look behind the scenes at an interesting industry works well. It feels a bit like The Wrestler at times and the backroom scenes of penis pumping and application of fake tan are a lot of fun.

The film manages to be both moving and funny when required. The individual performances all work with a naturalism that includes fluffed lines and awkward silences - and from actors not usually associated with fine acting. Matthew McConaughey is particularly impressive as the club frontman. He gives a knowing performance that plays up to his reputation and makes reference to the naked bongo drumming incident.

There's no avoiding the elephant (-shaped posing pouch) in the room: the stripping. The choreography is great and, regardless of your views on male nudity, captivatingly handled.

It's a bit of a revelation on all fronts. It's far better than Soderbergh's thematically similar The Girlfriend Experience and features a career best turn from Tatum. For him to have impressed me with a performance a year ago would have been inconceivable.

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