|Soderbergh himself, in a recent photo from early 2013.|
Steven Soderbergh has directed numerous films with such varying tones it is amazing. Some directors find a genre, niche, what-have-you, and stick with it their entire career. Soderbergh, however, just makes whatever movie he damn well feels like--be it an Ocean's 11 remake, a flick about a high-end prostitute ("The Girlfriend Experience,") or one of the three films I'm going to discuss.
Soderbergh has said he is quitting/retiring/done with movies. He might do television, perhaps work on a play, but he's finished with the movies, and his newest release today, "Side Effects," may very well be the last movie we ever see from him (I hope it isn't). I haven't seen, "Side Effects," but I have seen other films that Soderbergh has directed, and I'm going to discuss the three that I feel are worth talking about. The movies are, "The Informant!" "Contagion," and yes, "Magic Mike."
Fun Watching Films
One thing I want to mention first, Damon is great in the two movies of these three he appears in. Both, "The Informant!" and, "Contagion," have Matt Damon involved, (although he gets more screen-time in, "The Informant!") and both of the movies have his characters in over their heads. Whether Damon is trying to eek out a deal with the government about his company's price-fixing or dealing with the death of his wife and son things sure aren't easy for him. Of course, in Contagion the big baddie is the virus and society's eagerness to panic, whereas in, "The Informant," by the time we reach the end it seems the most shady of everyone was in fact Damon's character.
|Don't let the charming face fool you, this guy is weaselly.|
|"Contagion, "the movie that had everyone washing their hands.|
|Soderbergh went from a movie about how touching anything could be deadly to a film about half-naked men grinding on women. There's something interesting to that.|
Another thing linking these three movies is how Soderbergh always manages to get a stellar performance out of his actors. "The Informant!" has a ton of known and lesser-known comedians among its cast, but in a clever occurrence Soderbergh does not have them all necessarily being funny so much as he does just have them be normal people. Seeing Joel McHale not cracking jokes is a bit weird, but it illustrates that these folk have range beyond telling jokes. "Contagion," is just stock-full of amazing performances, from Matthew Damon to Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard to Brian Cranston, Laurence Fishburn to Jude Law, and Kate Winslet to Chin Han. "Magic Mike," also succeeds with its characters be it the aforementioned Mcconaughey being a huge jerk, Alex Pettyfer as the headstrong stripping-newbie, or Channing Tatum as the man who knows he's getting too old for stripping but has limited options--and seriously, getting Channing Tatum to do a good job acting is pretty hard; the man may look amazing but his acting tends to be a bit under-cooked.
|Joel McHale is in a comedy movie, yet has a serious role. Interesting, no?|
Steven Soderbergh has done a lot of work, and much of it has been great. This little exercise in discussing three of his films has been fun and shows that despite the immense differences in each flick he creates there tends to be things that unify them in some sense or the other. Soderbergh saying he is basically done with film makes me sad, but also has me wondering what fascinating things he could be cooking up next in whatever career he chooses to pursue. I'm eager to see what happens, aren't you?