26 movies in 24 years.
January 27, 2013 10:02 PM   Subscribe

Steven Soderbergh talks to New York Magazine. For a while. About everything.
posted by eugenen (26 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I love Steven Soderbergh. A very talented director who's tackled almost every genre out there. This can make you either an auteur or a hack; I'm not qualified to label him an auteur, but he's most certainly no hack. What I like best about him is that Soderbergh's films, more than the films of any other working director in Hollywood, embrace and exhibit the impressionist, stylized form of the medium that was popular in the 70s. And the 70s, some say (including me), was the best time for American film, when experimentation and studio risk-taking seemed to be the norm rather than the exception. Soderbergh puts that sensibility in practically all his films and yet they still manage to be entertaining for mainstream audiences. Very tricky to pull off genuine style plus mass appeal.
posted by zardoz at 10:18 PM on January 27, 2013 [12 favorites]

Terrific interview – thanks for posting.
posted by suprenant at 10:42 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Totally agree with him about extra-long movies with multiple endings. I felt LOTR was a more successful adaptation than some other fans do, but it definitely had that problem, even being faithful to the books. Movies have different needs, I suppose.

But ever since the Pirates movies I've felt that movies -- especially the tentpoles -- go on too long and have too many B, C, and D stories and too many endings. It took me the longest time after watching the first two to remember that there were only two and I hadn't seen a whole third one, there was just so much. It's not actually a more satisfying experience if you start checking your watch.

Very pleased to see another call out for the quality of House of Cards. If you can, stream the original with Ian Richardson -- the first one in particular is terrific.
posted by dhartung at 11:11 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Totally agree with him about extra-long movies with multiple endings.

I generally have the feeling that every movie I see should end ten minutes before it does. The only one off the top of my head that ends exactly when it should is Broken Flowers.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:14 PM on January 27, 2013

I got the idea of doing a Liberace film when we were making Traffic—so thirteen years ago. Out of the blue, I asked Michael [Douglas] if he would be interested in playing Liberace, and he said yes. He told me later that he thought I was just fucking around with him.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:25 PM on January 27, 2013

I felt LOTR was a more successful adaptation than some other fans do, but it definitely had that problem, even being faithful to the books. Movies have different needs, I suppose.

My only problem with the of LOTR is that it should have been longer. It should have included the pivotal SCOURING OF THE SHIRE chapter, which, in the book, so eloquently illustrates the changes in the Hobbits' character since their journeys began. They've become men.

But therein lies the real problem with LOTR -- it works best as a mini-series, to be viewed from beginning to end (all three movies with all the deleted scenes) over a period of time, at least a long weekend, preferably a week (a couple of hours every day) -- not endured in three overlong visits to the local cinema.

Which gets us back to the topic at hand. Wither the feature film ...
posted by philip-random at 11:31 PM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love Soderbergh, consistently interesting, thought-provoking director. I love that he's so often effectively DOP and editor on his films - even Magic Mike, hardly a narrative tour de force, had so much going on technically, stylistically.

I believe he will be considered one of the all-time greats, and there will be university units devoted to him, the way there are units on Italian Neorealists, or Goddard etc today.
posted by smoke at 12:31 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I thought Magic Mike actually was a narrative tour de force--but more importantly he turned what could have been a camp aspirational story into a genuinely sleazy ode to the failures of class mobility post-recession. One of the best things about Soderbergh is how smart, and how seriously he takes the problems of money.
posted by PinkMoose at 1:31 AM on January 28, 2013 [2 favorites]

Films in general are too long, especially in the post classical Hollywood era. More damagingly they often the wrong duration for their genre. In general (and of course there are exceptions because there are exceptions to almost every rule):

Comedies -- 90 mins (hour and a half)
Dramas -- 120 mins (two hours)

Comedy Dramas -- 105 mins (hour and a quarter)

Exceptions tend to include hyperlink or ensemble films with multiple simultaneous storylines and epics which are structured around a more discursive episodic type of storytelling. It tends to depend on the size of your canvas.

If you're making a domestic comedy, 90mins. If you're making a domestic drama, 120mins.

Any out and out comedy which includes romcoms longer than 90 mins is outstaying its welcome. Any drama of just 90 mins is too short and you're probably not spending enough time making us care about the characters or including enough incident to give the ending resonance.

It's worth noting that the best action films tend to be in the order of 105 mins because they're essentially comedy dramas. The insubstantial variety don't have enough character scenes.

But it's a fine line. The theatrical versions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy are structurally too long, but the Extended Versions are just right, thanks to the way the intermissions have been added so that they become effectively six shorter films.
posted by feelinglistless at 3:23 AM on January 28, 2013 [3 favorites]

Man we could've had a MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E Soderbergh movie? Damnit.

Now I wanna rewatch The Good German.
posted by The Whelk at 4:53 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed Haywire more than I thought I would.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:20 AM on January 28, 2013 [4 favorites]

Soderbergh's version of Solaris is my favorite, and I don't care that Lem thought it was junk (sigh-unseen, which takes all meaning away from his opinion). Granted Soderbergh turned it from a meditation on aliienation into one on love and loss, but I don't care. He made it into a deeply beautiful story in the process.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:35 AM on January 28, 2013 [5 favorites]

A moment of silence for the loss of A Confederacy of Dunces.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:39 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Well, I’m remaking—it’s been a long process—but I’m overhauling Kafka completely.

This is awesome.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:14 AM on January 28, 2013

finished Tony Fletcher’s book about the Smiths. They generated a lot of good music in a short time, then kind of burned out and crashed.

Cue prayer circle for Morrissey bio-pic now
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:16 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just don’t think movies matter as much anymore, culturally.

Pull quote of the century.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:22 AM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I occasionally get m/emails from MeFites who think I wrote Haywire and The Limey, a rumour that was started on Metafilter. Most recent was two weeks back.

I think this would be a good thread to put that idea to rest. I am not Matt Haughey Lem Dobbs.

Lem Dobbs also wrote Kafka. A fantastic and long interview with him is here and has been linked on Metafilter before. Soderbergh fans who haven't read it yet may dig it.
posted by dobbs at 7:31 AM on January 28, 2013

I fucking love Soderberg, and this interview just fed the love!
posted by vibrotronica at 11:14 AM on January 28, 2013

Holy shit, man. Are you the Lem Dobbs?
posted by philip-random at 12:46 PM on January 28, 2013

naw he's dem dobbs
posted by The Whelk at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2013

Hell, no. He's Fred C. Dobbs.
posted by dhartung at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Haywire is really good. for a movie that got very little attention. an easy movie to overlook, but it's worth watching.
posted by ninjew at 5:36 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've loved just about every Soderbergh movie (except The Good German, which is interesting but not successful despite a bunch of fantastic performances). My personal favorite is megaflop Full Frontal, which got no love critically or commercially but which I still think is a goddamn masterpiece.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:52 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Full Frontal is incredible. I think it's the only Soderbergh I've seen in the theater, too, somehow.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:08 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

I cannot wait until the movie industry outgrows this stupid system of opening weekend money grab that ultimately says absolutely nothing about a movie and even more so gives us meaningless designations like "flop".

If I made a film for 2 mill and it made back 3.5, I would be pretty damn proud and if anybody wanted to describe that as a flop I think I would be fine with telling them to suck eggs.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:03 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

"You’re supposed to expand your mind to fit the art, you’re not supposed to chop the art down to fit your mind."

"I look at Hurricane Katrina, and I think if four days before landfall you gave a movie studio autonomy and a 100th of the billions the government spent on that disaster, and told them, “Lock this place down and get everyone taken care of,” we wouldn’t be using that disaster as an example of what not to do."

"If there were 500 of [George Clooney], you could take over an entire country—but of course three weeks later you’d lose it again because of all the parties."

I've reread this several times since it came out, it's just full of great stuff. As a lapsed critic, I'm especially tickled by his view of criticism: "It's air guitar, ultimately."
posted by muckster at 1:18 PM on January 29, 2013

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