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« Three Faces of Link | Main | Supporting Actress, My Ballot »
Monday
Feb112013

Posterized: The Steven Soderbergh Experience

Given that Steven Soderbergh's "final" theatrical release is 'Now Playing' in theaters near you, I thought it was time to look back on his entire oeuvre. His movies stretched from the Palme D'Or winning breakthrough sex, lies and videotape (1989) to the mid-career twinner Traffic & Erin Brockovich (2000) that won him an Oscar and on through a last rush of product in the past 13 months from experimental action Haywire to stripper drama Magic Mike (a Best Picture nominee right here) and culminated with Side Effects. 

How many have you seen?

sex, lies and videotape (1989)
Kafka (1991)
King of the Hill (1993) 

21 (or so) more after the jump

 The Underneath (1995)
Gray's Anatomy (1996)
Schizopolis (1996) 

 Out of Sight (1997)
The Limey (1999)
Erin Brockovich (2000) 

 Traffic (2000)
Oceans 11 (2001)
Full Frontal (2002) 

 Solaris (2002)
Oceans 12 (2004)
Bubble (2005) 

 The Good German (2006)
Oceans 13 (2007)
Che Parts 1 & 2 (2008) 

 The Girlfriend Experiment (2009)
The Informant (2009)
*
Contagion (2011) 

 Haywire (2012)
Magic Mike (2012)
Side Effects (2013) 

* I skipped the documentary "And Everything Is Going Fine" (2010), a follow up to Gray's Anatomy but supposedly there's an Australian picture in there called The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg (2011) but given that someone as famous as Cate Blanchett is in it why have I never heard of it and why wasn't it released and so on? Help me fill in my Soderbergh lore as I'll readily admit I haven't been a completist.

How many have you seen? Is he retiring too soon at age 50? And what's your overall take on him as a director. Opinions seem to run the gamut and the filmography sure does...

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Reader Comments (31)

I've seen 11. I LOVE Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Contagion and all the Oceans films. He's definitely a great director in my mind.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

i didn't see Gray's Anatomy and the Underneath (i even didn't know these movies) and Side Effect again is not released in France

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterfrench girl

I've seen fifteen, including Side Effects yesterday, which I really liked. My favorite Soderbergh movie is Out of Sight, which is so charming and sexy it should come with a warning.

I refuse to believe he's really retiring from film. He'll be back. Maybe not for five years, but he'll be back. Right?

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAR

Oh, Out of Sight and King of the Hill, it's a shame Jesse Bradford and Jennifer Lopez never found their ways back to Steven.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Nathaniel - The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg is, I believe, a filmed version of a stage production he directed in Australia. He shot it and gave it to the cast and crew as a memento. It is my understanding is that it will never be screened or distributed publicly.

I've seen 20 of the above listed titles. His post-Sex Lies, pre-Out of Sight career is the big black hole - of the five films he made between 1991 and 1996, I've only seen King of the Hill, which is maybe the most underrated movie of his career.

His peak period was 1998-2002, which I'd imagine is not a particularly original or controversial view. It's a damn shame that Che apparently broke him on some level - its one of my favorite Soderbergh films and he hasn't made anything nearly as interesting since. But even when he's just riffing and goofing around within genres, which is basically what the last three years have been, he's still one of the most interesting directors around, and I'm bummed that Side Effects is, for now, the end of the "hey, it's been three months, here comes the new Soderbergh" run.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I have seen nineteen to date and looking forward to seeing "Side Effects". My faves are "King of the Hill","The Limey" and "out of Sight" with honorable mention for "Magic Mike" for the skin. I'm hoping Mr. Soderbergh is going to take some time off away from film but will be back in a few years. He will be missed.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

I've seen only 8 and I feel woefully inadequate. I like what I've seen, but it never seems like they're must see for me and then they get moved to the back of the line.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

If he's truly retiring, he's leaving behind a really stellar filmography for us. And truly, that third row - Out of Sight/Limey/Erin - contains three of the most re-watchable movies any director has made, let alone all in a row.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

6. Best of what I've seen: Out of Sight. Worst: Traffic. Oh wow. Biggest aesthetically induced headache of my life. The way the Michael Douglas scenes are shot was enough to give me throbbing pain. I don't care how great the acting or writing is or how "worthwhile" the topic is. If you want a movie from 2000 that condemns drugs and is less likely to give you a headache, just watch Requiem for a Dream again. Or just once, I don't care.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I missed most of his '90s output (everything between SL&V and Out of Sight), but I've seen everything since. I'll probably catch his latest, Side Effects, on DVD. The Limey and Out of Sight are still my favorites, although he's only made one outright bad film (The Good German) by my estimation.

Soderbergh has been floating this retirement since Che, so I don't think we have anything to worry about. If anything, it'll be a 2 or 3-year sabbatical a la Jay-Z. Given his output the last couple years, it'll be a well-deserved hiatus.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

I hope he keeps making movies he is one the few current directors who can make slick star driven vehicles like "Ocean 11" and more interesting personal films - the world deserves another "Magic Mike"!

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I've seen 15. I don't love them all but I'm a genuine fan; he's one of my favorite modern directors.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg scoop: http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/summit-set-to-board-steven-soderbergh-scott-z-burns-the-bitter-pill-michael-gregg

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWill H

I've seen 15. He's so uneven...

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I like Soderbergh - and I really love King of the Hill, Erin Brockovich, and Solaris. Wish he'd retire the yellow filters rather than retire altogether.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaika

I've seen 13. George Clooney kinda helps a lot (The Good German is one of the worst)

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

18. I wouldn't give up any of them, regardless of how good they are or how much I enjoyed them.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I've only seen 8. My favorites are Solaris, The Limey, and Out of Sight.
Solaris was the first time I'd really seen Viola Davis, and she was wonderful in that ( they all were).

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

JLo should work with him again.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Laika -- i so agree. It's the only thing that makes me go ARGH in Magic Mike... no, not again again!

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I've seen 12, including his latest, Side Effects. King of the HIll was filmed in St. Louis, so I'm partial to that one, but his best probably remains Out of Sight. My God, the chemistry in that one could cure a few diseases!

I really hope he's not retiring. We need more directors like him.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I've seen 15, but I'll say 16 since I will definitely be catching SIDE EFFECTS once its released. Mostly need to catch up on that period in the '90s with KAFKA, GRAY'S ANATOMY, UNDERNEATH. My favourites are clearly ERIN, SEX LIES, SCHIZOPOLIS, THE LIMEY, and OCEAN'S 11, but I have great fondness for many others.

As for the posters, my favourites are KAFKA, GRAY'S, OUT OF SIGHT, THE LIMEY, GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, and SIDE EFFECTS (not the one pictured here though).

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

I've seen 8. Hes not one of my must see directors although I don't have a bias against him. Out of Sight is wonderful, SexLiesVideotape was so hot when it came out and I really liked Haywire. Magic Mike is a lot of fun, but a bit uneven. I hadn't realized the bromance with Channing Tatem till I saw the line up.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

He quickly went from a great filmmaker (Sex, Lies, Videotape/Erin Brockovich/Traffic/Ocean's Eleven) to a merely adequate one (Ocean's Twelve/Ocean's Thirteen/The Good German/The Informant/Contagion). Few of his recent films are bad, but they're not particularly memorable either, or they're just not my cup of tea and I'll probably never watch them (The Girlfriend Experience, Haywire, Magic Mike, Side Effects).

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertr

the "Side Effects" MT score is impressive; I like his work, he's showing off by not showing off if you know what I mean.

February 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I've told you already: I LOVE Ocean's Twelve, his unsung masterpiece, one of the greatest pictures of 2000's!

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Favorite Soderbergh's are Out of Sight, the Limey, Solaris, and Che. He will be missed.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

1. Out of Sight
2. Che
3. Traffic
4. sex, lies + videotape
5. Ocean's 11
6. Erin Brockovich
7. The Limey
8. Contagion
9. Solaris
10. Magic Mike

That is an incredible top 10 for a director making films since 1989! Of currently still working directors, I can only think of Coens, Scorsese, Spielberg, Allen whose careers can be whittled into a great top 10 list.

11. The Informant
12. Ocean's 13
13. Haywire
14. Ocean's 12
15. King of the Hill
16. The Good German
17. The Girlfriend Experience

unseen:

Side Effects
Kafka
Full Frontal
Bubble
Schizopolis
The Underneath
Gray's Anatomy

Soderbergh is a legend. His work ethic and risk-taking doesnt always yield greatness, but 1 out of 3 times it does, and his movies are always interesting, even when they `fail'. He'll be missed in the landscape of american film.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdaniel23

I've seen "Out of Sight," "Erin Brockovich," "Traffic," "Oceans 11" (my favorite), "Solaris," "Contagion," and "Magic Mike." Despite his ambitiousness as a filmmaker I've never warmed to him.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

I've only seen 4 (Erin Brockovich, Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Thirteen, and Magic Mike). I watched part of King Of The Hill a long time ago, but I never got to finish it. I'm going to try to watch Traffic sometime soon. I haven't seen sex, lies and videotape yet, but I really want to.

February 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeghan

It would be very sad if Soderbergh's retirement is definitive. He is one of the most stimulating directors in Hollywood industry, and his interest in narrative and experimentation are undoubtedly worthy of merit. Obviously, when someone decides to expermient, not every result is a masterpiece... but I hope half of current contemporary directors had a little bit of Soderbergh's creativity.

On the other hand, it is curious how well appreciated is 'Erin Brockovich' ten years later, even it remains as a public favourite over 'Traffic' (which that year received more critical support). It gives an idea of what a solid film is 'Erin Brockovich'. I wish he will return within few years in a film with some of his fetish actors (Clooney, Roberts, Damon, Cheadle...)

Oh, and it is really difficult to choose a favourite Soderbergh film. Maybe I would choose 'The Limey', 'Erin Brockovich' and 'The Informant!', but I have also enjoyed 'Ocean's 11 & 12', 'Haywire' and Contagion' a lot. And 'sex, lies and videotape', 'Full Frontal', or 'The Girlfriend Experience' are so interesting... Also 'Traffic' or 'Solaris'... Even 'The Good German' has positive things. Very difficult, as I said!

February 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbonobo

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