Film Fanatic


Steven Soderbergh’s final film opening this week

One of our greatest filmmakers is calling it quits at the age of 50. Steven Soderbergh, the man whose body of work ranges from independent fair (Sex, Lies, and Videotape, King of the Hill), to critically acclaimed (Out of Sight, Erin Brockovich, Traffic), to blockbuster (Ocean’s Trilogy, Magic Mike) and experimental (Bubble, The Girlfriend Experience) has decided to stop suddenly.

His last theatrical film, Side Effects, opens this weekend and his final film, the HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, will debut later this summer.

He’s hinted that he will focus more on photography and painting, but Soderbergh said recently that he just wants to experience different things creatively.

Contagion - Director Steven Soderbergh
Soderbergh directing Contagion.

“It’s just going to be different stuff. I don’t think I could ever sit still and do nothing. It’s just going to be different stuff. In the hopes that maybe by exploring some other avenues I can find another way in to this job and reboot somehow. It’s something I’ve been planning for a while and I get those feelings of I just know something’s got to change, so five years ago I decided pretty much to follow the plan that I followed,” said Soderbergh in an interview with Collider.

Judging by the diversity of his last few films and the fact that he’s essentially made a movie every year for the last twenty, it appears that he’s both bored and burned out. For a man who not only directs, shoots and edits his films, but also produces others, the guy could use a break. But I wouldn’t bet on this being the end for him.

Michael Jordan once said he was “99.9 percent sure” he was retired and then came back. Perhaps Soderbergh is aware of his legacy like one of his fellow filmmakers. During press for Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino mentioned that he too would probably hang up the camera sooner rather than later because he didn’t want his overall body of work to be stunted by a bad film later on.

While Soderbergh’s filmography isn’t perfect, the ratio of hits to misses for him is still better than most. What I admired most about him was his need to maintain his independent roots even when he was making bigger studio films. Whether that was using different color tints in sections of Traffic or mounting a camera to the back of a car as Brad Pitt and George Clooney drove at night through downtown Los Angeles or his signature shot of a character being out of focus only to walk into it, he seemed to be unafraid of trying different things.

Watch Traffic or the Ocean’s Trilogy or Contagion and you can see a filmmaker telling great stories on a smaller scale despite the subject being on an epic scale.

He was never flashy, just consistently good. From action to comedy to biopics, Soderbergh always seemed to want a new challenge. And yet no matter the genre he tackled, you always knew when you were watching one of his films. That’s the mark of a truly great filmmaker. One that can bounce from one subject as diverse as the next and still maintain a unique and distinctive visual style.

Trailer of the week: Fast & Furious 6

As I mentioned in Film Fanatic last week, one of the things I look forward to during the Super Bowl is the new movie trailers that debut. The one I was looking forward to the most was of Fast & Furious 6 because there hadn’t been any footage of it yet. The spot was short (even Universal doesn’t want to shell out more than $3.8 million for 30 seconds), but what I saw was kind of insane.

Now just a few days after the game, Universal has released a full-length trailer for the sixth installment of the drive fast, look cool doing it and eat barbeque with family series. Judging by the footage, moviegoers like myself who were shocked by how good Fast Five was will probably be equally blown away by what Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner have in store for us this time.

Seriously, this franchise was dead. After the third installment sans Paul Walker or Vin Diesel (his cameo at the end doesn’t really count) bombed, this series was DOA. But after the two leads career’s began to flounder (Diesel’s in particular), they decided to go back to what they knew; stand next to cars, drive cars real fast and flip cars and walk away.

Thrown in Under-Armor wearing Dwayne Johnson, a couple of one-name actors from previous installments (Ludacris and Tyrese) and a significantly higher budget and you have a complete reinvention of a franchise. After seeing this trailer, am I the only one more excited for this than Iron Man 3?

Movie trivia of the week

When Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson all passed, which actor was cast as one of the most iconic action heroes ever and for which film?

Passionate about movies, sports and writing, Ryan hails from Bend but lives in Springfield now. He earned his college degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and hopes to one day write a novel. He also enjoys sunsets and long walks on the beach.

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