Dec. 21, 2000, 6:40 a.m. CST
i haven't had much interest in traffic, can't say why really, just haven't followed it. but this review really sparked my interest. and now i am really looking forward to it. again, good review moriarty. i'll have to check this out.
Dec. 21, 2000, 6:44 a.m. CST
by Mr. Biege
Memo to Moriarty: Next time you are in the local bookstore, pick up the new book called "Getting Away With It". It's a series of dialogues between Soderbergh and Richard Lester (director of "A Hard Day's Night" among others). Also includes excerpts from Soderbergh's journals. I'm loving it and think it should be interesting stuff for anyone who appreciates this guy.
Dec. 21, 2000, 6:54 a.m. CST
by I am_NOTREAL
Great, intelligent review of what is hopefully a great, intelligent movie. Hats off.
Dec. 21, 2000, 7:28 a.m. CST
your reviews? well done, old boy! i cannot wait to see this film, first and foremost because of Benicio del Toro. He's an excellent actor even if he did do 'Excess Baggage'. and his being absolutely gorgeous helps, too. your review is just making the wait even sweeter.
Dec. 21, 2000, 9:44 a.m. CST
Mori, great work. One of the best reviews I've ever read. So absorbing I didn't see my dad creep up behind my PC and ask for his beer money. Work and Aint it Cool don't mix really, do they?
Dec. 21, 2000, 9:48 a.m. CST
Great review Moriarty. You hit the nail on the head about this film. Has any one seen the website for this film? It's really amazing. Like a beautiful haunting puzzle. I've stayed on it for hours and found some incredible stuff. www.trafficmovie.com. Check it out. I'd like to see what other people think. It's even more effective after you've seen the film.
Dec. 21, 2000, 11:01 a.m. CST
From what I've read, this looks like a well-thought-out review. I skipped big parts of it because I'm seing a sneak preview tonight in San Francisco. I've been impressed with Soderbergh since "sex, lies..." and have seen everything except "Gray's Anatomy" and "9021Live." His short film, "Winston," is interesting and confident. "sex, lies..." was the first movie I saw when I moved to Sacramento, "Schizopolis" the first when I moved to the Bay Area. It was playing in a tiny theatre in SF and every time I thought it was too awful to keep watching, something brilliant would happen. (Those exterminator scenes... yuk.) I wish he'd act more; the comic double take he does in "Schizopolis" is probably the best darned double take I've ever seen. Oh yeah -- sixty-eighth!
Dec. 21, 2000, 11:12 a.m. CST
by All Thumbs
Cameo, the doctor will see you now...***Just wanna say thanks to the guy who mentioned "Getting Away With It." I need some books to read for over the Christmas break. Gracias! Oh, and I can't wait to see "Traffic."
Dec. 21, 2000, 11:19 a.m. CST
by Jedi 7
Great review I am dying to see this movie.
Dec. 21, 2000, 12:29 p.m. CST
by Toe Jam
but i would have to argue with you last statement there. "traffic" definitely takes the stance that drug addiction should take the higher priority, rather than a pretty much ineffectual war against the drug suppliers. you see, it's just like the whole "supply & demand" rule. diminishing the supply only makes the demand greater, thereby increasing the number of would-be addicts. however, if the u.s. government were to spend more time and money on drug addiction, the problem would be nipped in the bud, right? at least, that's the message that i got from "traffic." other than that, you pretty much hit the nail on the head.
Dec. 21, 2000, 2:34 p.m. CST
I need a cigarette.
Dec. 21, 2000, 2:43 p.m. CST
I know I can always count on a beautifully written, thoughtful, trenchant, articulate review when you do it, Moriarty. As a huge Soderbergh fan who sees all his movies anyway, I still appreciate your clear insights -- makes me want to see "Traffic" on the first day it's out, rather than two weeks down the road. Thank you.
Dec. 21, 2000, 3:03 p.m. CST
by Lazarus Long
With all the recent awards given out, it would appear Traffic is a front runner for the Big Oscar this year (or at least the front runner for film that will be upset by the underdog). However, with the Golden Globe noms being released, I noticed that Erin Brokovich is getting some serious consideration. Not that it was a bad film, but it wasn't one of the year's 5 best (or 10 best in my opinion). With a double nomination in the director category (nice but unnecessary), will Steve-O cancel himself out? Are the idiots who vote for the globes smart enough to know that Traffic is superior work? I'm going to guess that Soderbergh doesn't pull a double nom for the Oscars, they have a little better sense than that.
Dec. 21, 2000, 3:43 p.m. CST
it's interesting that you started your review (good job on that, by the way) by speculating on the true motivations of publicists. i saw a screening of it two weeks ago as well, and two of the people my girlfriend and i talked to from usa both used that same line about it being the best film they've ever worked on. now, i'm not all that familiar with usa's typical caliber of output, so maybe that statement really is true for many people there, but it sounds like the party line to me. having said that, i will admit that it was a decent film, benicio del toro was excellent, catherine zj was also good, and i thought cheadle and guzman had a bunch of good lines. the color coded filtration of the mexican scenes vs. the douglas scenes was a little to paint by numbers for me, but it was interesting. i also had no reaction to the rich kids using drugs, there was something false about it, maybe it was the casting, but i think it was probably the self exmaination that dominated their conversations--stoned and wired high school kids don't wonder about their place in society, they go to clubs and try to get laid or they watch movies. in the end, i think drug use and the drug trade are too topical a subject for a film to allow an unbiased review of it. if you don't like it, then it could be construed that you are denying that there is a drug problem in this country. it's a little bit like schindler's list in that respect, but it is a well crafted and decent film, though, one that the academy will probably like. soderberg has done a good job of going mainstream (regardless of whether that was his intention or not) and still holding on to his progressive filmmaking style and edgy subject matter.
Dec. 21, 2000, 5:37 p.m. CST
No doubt, Benecio Del Toro should get an Oscar nomination for his work because he steals the film. Outstanding perfomances by Cheadle and Guzman are great as well. Even Miguel Ferrar is a scene stealer but, overall I wouldn't see the movie again and don't think its a "Best Movie" contender. I can discuss spoilers after the AICNer regulars have seen it and teh reasons.
Dec. 21, 2000, 9:05 p.m. CST
Finally saw the trailer, and I agree that it looks like it's gonna rock, but wasn't there a BBC 4 part production (Played in the States on Masterpiece Theater on PBS) that was just like this story? It followed the drug trade, from Pakistan, where opium was grown and processed, to the drug dealer who was killed and the wife got involved. It was a brilliant production....This was sometime in the 80's....as I'm thinking about it, it may even have been CALLED "Traffic"....Jesus, please somebody else remember this..... I only remember it because it was as great story, and it was facinating to see how the whole drug trafficing world worked, from the people growing the poppies, living in poverty, to the people who processed the plants, and packaged it, to the smugglers in England....you saw the effects drug has on the whole process....I remember specifically the lead female character getting strip searched, right to the skin, cavity search and all at Heathrow Airport..... OK, I'll shut up now, hoping someone remembers..... ;)
Dec. 22, 2000, 2:36 a.m. CST
Did anyone else click on the underlined "p" in "political" in the last sentence of the ninth (or is it eighth?) paragraph of Moriariy's review? It's a link to the "George W. Bush or Chimpanzee" website. I clicked on it just to see what it was & it was fucking hilarious, but I don't know what it has to do with this review. Was this a mistake, Moriarity, or did you do it on purpose to poke fun at our more-dumb-than-your-average-chimp President-elect?
Dec. 22, 2000, 2:45 a.m. CST
by Captain Katanga
click on the "p"...that site is hilarious!
Dec. 22, 2000, 6:58 a.m. CST
You guys and your fascination with "crossing over". I swear. Look. this director is great. This is not a dig on him or his movie which I haven't seen. What I despise are these continual euphamisms for selling out. The baby boomers did it in the eighties and our idealistic furor was at full volume. But now that the new generation is doing it we're supposed to see something different? We're supposed to accept that watering down your script and using Julia Roberts in your movie is a 'brilliant turn"? IT SHOULDN'T BE OUR CONCERN whether directors do mainstream movies to bankroll their future more personal projects. IT SHOULDN'T BE OUR CONCERN whether Good art comes to the mall. IT SHOULDN'T BE OUR CONCERN whether Soderbergh or Fincher or Wes Andersen take home Oscars--the ceremony has been bunk since 'Ghost' was nominated for Best Picture. We all saw Elliot Smith sing his song on that stage. We all saw Jonathan Demme win. We all saw Daniel Day Lewis get it. We all cheered for them. But there was no revolution. Nobody remembers. WHY IS THIS FEAT SO IMPORTANT TO YOU? You do art that is in any way inferior to what it could have been--had you not gone for the 'big' audience--you fail. Even if the flick turns out to be good it's bullshit. We are letting SO MANY good filmmakers off the hook for these greedy moves. Forget the mainstream. Stop protecting it. It's lazy. The best work always comes when you're hungry.
Dec. 22, 2000, 7:47 a.m. CST
sheesh! I thought you would never pry your lips off his ass! But otherwise, good review.
Dec. 22, 2000, 11:35 a.m. CST
by Dr. Sid Schaefer
Yes, there was indeed a brilliant BBC series called "Traffik", on which this film is based. It was shown in the States on PBS sometime around '89. I haven't seen it since then, but I seem to recall the Michael Douglas character being played by the guy who played Sarah Polley's father in "the Adventures of Baron Munchausen". But, of course, I could just be ripped to the tits on skag and hallucinating wildly. Hopefully, the series is available on video (Unlike the brilliant "Sword of Honour", which, unfortunately, is not)- it would certainly be worth renting.
Dec. 23, 2000, 8:55 a.m. CST
I'd hate to make that choice. See both! I don't know... I saw TRAFFIC Thursday night and am seeing CTHD this afternoon. TRAFFIC has a fantastic first 2/3, and the last third or so loses steam, mainly because the film remains realistic; i.e. no easy answers, little audience catharsis. But, man, what works really cooks -- it's great tuff, and I'll see it at least once more. About an 8.5 out of 10.
Jan. 8, 2001, 8:23 a.m. CST
I just saw Traffic and I'm being assaulted by reviews of how other-worldly great this movie is. I have to disagree. I don't think the movie is bad, and I think the stylization and the acting is all-around good. What bothers me here is the story and the themes. Coming on the heels of much more brutally visceral films like Requiem for a Dream, the "horrible reality" that Traffic tries to show is actually fairly white. In fact, most of the movie is centered around arriving at the inevitable "it's all okay because we're good honest white folk" theme that most Hollywood movies opt for. Surprising for Soderbergh. Benicio Del Toro's story is by far the best and best-acted, but why is there NO background on his character? Why does he want to build things that will let him watch little boys run around at night? Without any background as to why (and the fact that his character is missing any established life other than his crappy partner) could make one assume he's a gay pedophile. Although that would be a humorous detour, I'm sure that's not the case, so why not give him some decent background? Catherine Zeta Jones is probably the best character in the film, as she goes from being innocent and wholesome to being brutally protective of her unborn baby and the life she has. I wish they would've gone the extra distance and have her show that she's actually BETTER at being a drug czar than her husband by discovering the bug in the last scene. As for her husband, Michael Douglas and his cracked-out daughter, it all is just too forced. How quickly the daughter resorts to crack-junkie activities without ANY display of fear or doubt or regret is a shameful oversight. As is her "deathbed conversion" to rehab with the parents being the most supportive people in the world. No, a little bit of reality in that story wouldn't have hurt. Mostly though, what bothered me about the movie was the uncompromised view that drugs are bad absolutely, and that the only way out is to not do any of them, ever. From a liberal filmaker like Soderbergh, I would've expected more gray area. To acknowledge the drug problem and also acknowledge the section of the population that experiments or even responsibly uses some drugs would've been the true brass ring that this film does not grasp. The fact that film circles and the populace are embracing this movie instead of something that is more earnest about the REAL truth of the matter is a good example of how compromised the film is at the very end. I wouldn't be surprised if the last two scenes were added after test screening showed people didn't like how honest the movie was. "How about the girl lives and goes to rehab with her loving parents at the end, and they all stay together?" "How about Benicio is NOT a criminal, or a degenerate gay pedophile and he really DOES just want to sit alone watching little boys play baseball late at night? Can you do that Stephen, can you make those edits? We'll get you a good rating, big release, and we'll toss you an oscar for the Julia Roberts movie. C'mon...."