Quo Vadis, Soderbergh?

There are many things about the David Denby article in The New Yorker of Feb. 11 and 18, 2013 that are worth quoting.

For one thing, it’s about Side Effects, a move self wants to see (The other new movies are A Good Day to Die Hard, which is supposedly terrible, Identity Thief, which is also supposedly terrible, and Safe Haven which self wouldn’t see even if it got rave reviews, which it didn’t)

Denby begins his review by saying that Steven Soderbergh “has made twenty-six feature films in twenty-four years, has just turned fifty . . .  and says that, after his new film, Side Effects he wants to leave movies behind in order, mostly, to paint.”

Self heard about the retirement announcement, nothing official, just trills on the web.  But now it’s in The New Yorker.  So perhaps it really will happen.

She’s been watching Soderbergh movies since Sex, Lies and Videotape.  Every generation has its cool indie movie (a decade later perhaps “The Usual Suspects” would qualify), and that one was self’s.  It introduced the diffident James Spader to self, and she was instantly smitten.  That movie also had Peter Gallagher, as a guy having an affair with his wife’s sister, played by Laura San Giacomo.  It was so absolutely clever, in a way self had never seen before.

There are a couple of shocking things in the Denby review’s lead sentence:

Soderbergh has made 26 feature films.  Self thought she had seen every single Soderbergh movie there is to see, but they don’t in any way come close to 26.  So she googles Soderbergh and finds that she has missed quite a number.  Most of the movies she missed, however, were out when son was a wee tot.  After Out of Sight, with J Lo and George Clooney, she hardly ever missed a Soderbergh movie.  She saw Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and of course all three Ocean movies.  She did miss Solaris.  She also missed Contagion.  The last Soderbergh movie self saw was Magic Mike, and she liked it.  It was entertaining.  The acting wasn’t bad.  Matthew McConaughey stole every scene he was in.

Soderbergh’s supposedly final movie is Behind the Candelabra, which just wrapped.  It stars “Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover.  According to Soderbergh, no Hollywood studio would distribute anything that juicily gay, so HBO will air it” this spring.  The first thing to say about Side Effects,” according to Denby, “is that it isn’t a valedictory in any way, though it’s very much a Soderbergh film, an experiment in form that begins as one kind of movie and ends as something entirely different.”

The other thing that’s interesting about the review is that Soderbergh, who “did the cinematography” himself (!), portrays New York as “a city of hospitals and sterile offices.  Manhattan itself seems blue.”  Self bets there are more therapists and psychoanalysts making a living in New York City than anywhere else in the world, so she willingly accedes to the Denby pronouncement.

Anyhoo, Denby reveals quite a bit about the plot, so mebbe self should stop soon.  Side Effects, he writes, is “a kind of sober-sided Hitchcockian thriller, featuring the master’s favorite theme:  the transference of guilt.”

In closing, Denby does make reference to “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” and self finds it hilarious when Denby refers to the James Spader character “as a smart, sensitive creep who lives in masturbatory isolation in Baton Rouge, looking at tapes he has made of women talking about sex.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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