Soderbergh is one of my favorite working filmmakers. The man does the photography, editing, writing, and directing on his films not to mention he’s always working on projects that interest him whether they be mainstream like the Ocean’s films or independent films like Schizopolis. Also, his adaptation of Solaris is underrated.
I love Out of Sight, it is one if my favorite films.
Decent director that gets my respect because he’s willing to put himself out there and do things not many others would do (like make a four hour film about a communist revolutionary), but I’ve never been that impressed by any film of his.
I’m impressed by many parts of “Traffic.” Other than that, I have never been that interested. Ocean’s films… I do not respect.
Soderbergh is one of the very few filmmakers who’ve been able to work both in the heart of Hollywood and at its margins effectively.
I just watched part one of Che today and I thought it was fantastic, it definitely got me interested in seeing more Soderbergh films. I don’t think I will see solaris though, it’s very difficult to one up Andrei Tarkovsky.
Traffic is great. Bubble is very good for being made with all amateur actors. I’m looking forward to the Girlfriend Experience.
Verdict: I like Soderbergh.
After a shaky start that only produced one real masterpiece, KING OF THE HILL, Soderbergh had a great rebirth with SCHIZOPOLIS which started a truly solid six-film run. Then, it fell apart when he got the greenlight to do essentially whatever he wanted, resulting in a half-as-long-and-yet-overlong remake of SOLARIS and the total misfire FULL FRONTAL. OCEAN’S TWELVE was also miserable, though the modest delight of OCEAN’S THIRTEEN made up for that.
I haven’t watched BUBBLE, THE GOOD GERMAN or CHE, so I can’t comment on where he’s at currently. I was really looking forward to THE GOOD GERMAN, but I haven’t heard a single review of that film that isn’t brutal.
I really don’t think winning the Palme d’Or and being nominated for an Oscar for your first, and independently produced film can be called much of a shaky start, thekeenguy.
That’s pretty much the definition of coming out of the gates in a blaze of flaming glory, destroying everything in your path and guaranteeing yourself a seat at the big boy’s table for the rest of your career.
SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE is a good film. KING OF THE HILL is a masterpiece.
That first run of films is shaky (or maybe “uneven” says it better) in comparison to the run from SCHIZOPOLIS through OCEAN’S ELEVEN. That’s my point.
He is quite possibly one of the only notable directors with a very inconsistent and unpredictable method. Most great directors (Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Jean Renoir, Luis Bunuel, Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, David Lynch, Takashi Miike, Richard Linklater), after a handful of films have a very noticeable and reliable style and approach. It has been expected for “auteurs” to fall into a type of look, approach and deal with a handful of themes.
Soderbergh is the only director that I know of who seems to be the complete antithesis of this sentiment.
Traffic is truly a great film. Great ensemble, effective editing and cinematography, reflecting the idea that no matter how much we do to control drug trafficking, the problem can never be erased. It’s great that it covers the issue of drugs from so many perspectives: the politicians, the police, the users, the dealers.
The Ocean’s films were never meant to be masterpieces. They’re just meant for fluff. And in that sense, they’re great fluff.
His dvd commentaries are also some of the most entertaining that have ever been recorded.
For Schizopolis, he interviews himself, and claims credit for William Shakespeare’s entire body of work, among many other grandiose and insane statements. The Limey’s track is nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek, and often heated argument on how the movie should of been made between him and the screenwriter. And the majority of Oceans 13 is spent between him and two screenwriters arguing over who should direct the fourth film in the series, and Soderbergh differentiating between when George Clooney is on screen, and when Danny Ocean is.
Ah I love this site. Lets go over to IMDb to see a sample post in their discussion on Soderbergh:
“Re: Soderbergh’s Top 5
by deadcow_s (Thu May 15 2003 12:57:44)
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nice topic ! :))))
Soderbergh = number one director. For many years i used to like Oliver Stone ( he was my idol in the cinema ) but he’s starting to became too commercial :(((
I havent watched bad movie from Soderbergh yet !
1. Solaris !!! – number one movie for all times
3. Full Frontal (very undererestimated :(((( )
4. Sex , lies and videotape
5. Out of sight / or / Ocean’s eleven – i cant deside :)))"
I don’t mean to be overdramatic but that post makes me want to punch someone.
The most depressing part, Drew, is that even with all the misspelled words, grammatical errors and all around failure of the English language, ol’ deadcow_s at imdb is most likely a nineteen year old American kid living in the suburbs.
Does anyone know when the Che :)))) DVD is being in stores!!!! I don’t think it will be my number one movie for all times but I feel it could be one of those films that is very underestimated!!! I not get a chance to see it in theeters making me sad :(((((
An actual serious question in deadcow’s language. Sorry I couldn’t resist.
June 29th in the UK, Drew.
Unfortunately, an American release date hasn’t been set, but I would expect it to be around that same time frame.
I cant stand Soderbergh, he is a completely overrated poseur! All he knows how to do is try and make an actor “cool”.
All gloss and nothing else. And Ray Squirrel… Steven Spielberg, Richard Linklater, David Fincher, and Takashi Miike are not great directors!
I like Soderbergh’s concepts but often don’t care for his movie. Bubble was an interesting experiment in distribution but wasn’t that great of a movie. I just saw Che yesterday and the first part was amusing, but the second part was great… too bad the first part wasn’t great as well. Traffic was one of those in a recent slew of movies that really annoy me, all of that political “we’re all connected so why do we hurt each other?!” mumbo-jumbo…. but much better done, nonetheless, than friggin’ Crash. Soderbergh is a guy who knows his cinema history, knows where to put the camera, and can work with anybody mainstream or independent, but as a singular voice is kind of distant. I want him to keep doing what he’s doing, but I don’t often feel like watching his movies.
Parham is having us on again, guys. I second Clovenhoof. Let this director stay on the IMDb site.
i think he’s interesting. i haven’t seen a majority of his films, but “out of sight” is brilliant. and i really, really enjoy the ocean series. there’s an easygoing fun and charm to the making of those films thats very rare. the actors ooze chemistry, and the comedy is wonderful.
Of recent directors, I think Sidney Lumet is a more apt comparison to Soderbergh than the directors you mentioned—an excellent craftsman rather than a singular stylist.
I think I’d be more interested in him if his films were more interesting. I liked SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE and OUT OF SIGHT, but still have no idea what SCHIZOPOLIS was up to. TRAFFIC left me cold and the less said about CHE the better.
I think Soderbergh’s career has become an odd dichotomy in today’s cinematic landscape. Whereas most filmmakers today seem to get pigeon-holed doing only one thing (or in rare cases two things), Soderbergh has managed to create a body of work that is both eclectic yet conventional, experimental while also predictable. And he seems to thrive on his failures more than his successes. If you’ve read Waxman’s boo Rebels on the Backlot, you know how uncomfortable he is with success and seems to court failure. That’s a rare thing to see from a filmmaker working in America today. Based on his actual work, he hasn’t created anything that lifts him into being one of my favorite directors but he’s developed a career that I can’t help but admire. And there are a handful of his films that I think are truly top notch.
Of the films of his that I have seen, I would say the top seven are great films:
1. Out of Sight
2. The Limey
5. The Informant
6. And Everything Is Going Fine
8. The Girlfriend Experience
10. Ocean’s 11
11. Erin Brokovich
12. The Good German
Is there anyone out there that absolutely adores Steven Soderbergh? Does anyone think he’s one of the best filmmakers working today? I get the sense that a lot of people feel the same way that I do – they respect his efforts more than the actual results. I wonder though if there are people who list him as one of their favorite directors and enjoy most of his films – both his more mainstream films and his more personal “experiments”.
When I was a teenager I thought Soderbergh was untouchable. I saw Traffic and was hooked. As I got older and saw more films from other filmmakers, he dropped on my list. He’s not really a master director like I would consider some others, though I have to admit, Che, parts one and two, ranks up there on my list of all-time greats. I think he reached a pinnacle with that movie, hitting levels in ways masters like Malick and Pontecorvo have done in the past.
Soderbergh is very derivative in his work, which he admits, and it makes it hard for me to say he’s one of the absolute bests, but basically all of his films really work for me. When he works in the thriller format (The Limey, Traffic, Out of Sight) he shines, and he’s also capable of making some really well done experimental type works (Bubble and Full Frontal). Looking back at how much I adored him, I laugh, but he’s still a filmmaker I can’t shake. Maybe I do consider him a new American master and I’m just not willing to accept it. In the end, he’s a great visual and action director. He’s almost like John Huston in my mind. Incredible craftsmanship in all of his work.
Anyway. Enough rambling. I think I’m going to watch the special features on the Traffic DVD…
Soderbergh is a fascinating enigma, who, despite my bafflement, I’d call one of America’s most talented directors. He’s definitely deeply committed to constant experimentation, and is one of the few mainstream artists daring enough to explore digital as an actual aesthetic approach.
I think he’s probably the best American filmmaker of his generation, though I have no real argument to back that up (I’m busy with other things at the mo’, though might come back to it at a later date), but I’d rate most of his work quite highly. He has incredible range, but still maintains his own voice; has a much wider pool of influences than most other filmmakers working today, but never makes ‘homage’ films* (like Refn, Tarantino**, Rodriguez, etc); and, like Jack said, is deeply committed to constant experimentation. He’s always interesting, not just as a director, but as an editor, cinematographer and sometimes camera operator, and is the closest mainstream American cinema has to someone like Godard or Resnais, in his approach.
Anyway, hyperbole aside, my top-ten for S.S. (with vague-to-the-point-of-pointlessness commentary)
Intense romanticism, cold formalism; Lem’s novel restructured as an ambient mood-piece where characters are reduced to impressionist blurs of emotion; Soderbergh’s best film about the nature of memory and deeply moving.
Che: Part Two:
Genuinely contemplative, full of sadness and disappointment; naturalistic to the point of blurring the line between fiction and documentary (I love the little moment were Del Toro points out the film camera to the local children); presents its subject honestly, without glorification.
King of the Hill:
Atmospheric, charming, genuinely moving; one of the best independent films of the 1990s and maybe the best coming of age story of the last twenty years. Sentimental, like Ozu rather than Spielberg, and one of the few films where Soderbergh doesn’t hide behind cynicism or ironic detachment.
Che: Part One:
The kind of grandstanding historical epic that Oliver Stone used to make, with its cross-cutting between black and white newsreel footage and insanely colourful dramatisations. Soderbergh (deliberately) takes the excitement out of the battles by layering statistical reports on the soundtrack, but the energy of the film is still extraordinary. The pinnacle of his hand-held docudrama approach.
Part Gilliam, part Welles, part Ruiz-like deconstruction of Kafka and his work, full of in-jokes and meta-references, but really just a dazzling fantasy-noir. Blackly comic but also disturbing; the scene where Kafka is pursued by the murderous ‘laughing man’ is the closest S.S. has gotten to directing a true horror film.
Again, contemplative: a global pandemic as something taking place in the background of things; a cluster of characters all presented behind glass, or reflected on glass, taking the all-star ‘end of the world’ movie template and turning it into a work of clinical observation.
Begins as quirky farce, ends as brutal psychological drama, with Soderbergh enthusing the film with Whitacre’s unique personality, where the deceptions, spy-movie motifs and deadpan self-satisfaction lead us to see the film as something more exotic and appealing than it really is.
A deconstruction of the first film – which was little more than an entertaining Guy Ritchie-like crime caper – and just wildly entertaining. The plot is nonsense and the filmmakers flaunt this fact throughout, but it’s closer than any American film to the ‘cinema du look’ styling of Besson/Beineix/Carax with its bold colours, imaginative inter-titles, musical interlude and spirit of adventure. Probably the Soderbergh film that is most obviously influenced by Richard Lester.
The Girlfriend Experience:
Like Solaris, another intense, hermetic film, somewhere between Antonioni’s work on modern alienation and Godard’s portraits of honest sex-workers as commentary on contemporary consumer society. Deeply hypnotic, focused, and with a nice little kick against the critics (who, make no mistake, are parasites).
The approach places the audience inside the head of the central character, where the revenge plot develops as a series of potential ‘what if…’ scenarios, fuelled by memory and despair. The result is something like a cut-up, stream of consciousness psychodrama, full of anguish and regret. My favourite of Soderbergh’s modern noirs.
*with the exception of The Good German, obviously.
**felt bad about the inclusion of Q.T., since I think he’s the only filmmaker of the three who uses homage to create something that works on more than one level.
*with the exception of The Good German, obviously….
…and “Solaris”, and “Ocean’s 11”, and "12, and “13”…
He’s done a couple of good films, but nothing half-decent in almost 15 years