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Steven Soderbergh Talks Retirement, Possible Switch To TV
Bemoans lack of American interest in complexity, ambiguity, as male stripper epic arrives in theaters.
When Sex, Lies, and Videotape came out in 1989, it was kind of an event. I suppose we could call this era sort of the dawn of the indie film movement. Christ knows I’ve attributed the dawn of the indie film movement to enough individual films, may as well just assign it to a time period, like they do with other eras. Anyways, this little movie with this very provacative title hit the scene, and for some reason there was a feeling that it was heralding a sea change within the medium.
Being a pubescent cinephile, and interested in every item represented within the title, and not yet knowing that the name Andie MacDowell was a virtual guarantee that nothing hot was going to take place, I rented Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and was just about as disappointed as I could possibly have been. There really wasn’t any sex, and definitely no videotaped sex, and the only lies were the ones promised in the title.
This is pretty representative of the feeling I’ve had toward most of Steven Soderbergh’s body of work.
The exceptions are as follows: The Limey, one of the best harboiled hitman flicks I’ve ever seen. Out of Sight, as slick and stylish as a crime movie gets. And Soderbergh’s remake of Solaris, which was so moody and visually captivating that I lost track of the story altogether the first time I watched it.
I feel the rest of Soderbergh’s category has been pretty spotty. He likes to make epics. The two most prominent examples being Traffic and Che. These might be the two greatest pictures ever made, but I’ll be damned if I can make it even halfway through the first act of either of them. I love nonlinear filmmaking, but there is a world of difference between nonlinear and disjointed, and I feel like Soderbergh’s epic stuff leans toward the latter. Like Sex, Lies, and Videotape, I went into both pictures expecting a lot, and all I got was a lot of sleep.
Informant! The Girlfriend Experiece. Ocean’s However Many. Bubble. Oh yeah, and Magic Mike.
Christ, where the hell are we? I started raving about Soderbergh for a reason. Oh, right. So, word is Soderbergh has had it with filmmaking, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Says the American audiences don’t like complex, ambiguous films. Says that the audiences who are into that kind of thing seek it out on television. Says he wants to start a second career while he’s still young, like painting. Or television. Of course, I’m already looking forward to being disappointed in Soderbergh’s small screen efforts. His take on the life and career of Liberace has six hours written all over it.
Of course, all this bitterness is probably due to my lack of understanding of Soderbergh’s work, you know, as a rank-and-file, mouth-breathing American. The Julia Roberts plot device from Ocean’s Twelve was so rich in dualistic subtext that it still causes hot fluid to leak from my nostrils on hot summer nights.
Time, as it almost never does, will tell. As for Soderbergh’s second career, we here at Criminal Complex humbly suggest studying the fine art of film editing. You never know. Could come in handy.