8th February: Side Effects released (US)
15th March: Side Effects released (UK)
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LET THEM ALL TALK
Photos | Official website
Photos | Official website
NEW & UPCOMING DVDS
Now available from Amazon.com:
Now available from Amazon.co.uk:
DVDs that include an audio commentary track from Steven:
Clean, Shaven - Criterion Collection
The Graduate (40th Anniversary Collector's Edition)
The Third Man - Criterion Collection
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Soderbergh returns to indie roots
Full Frontal among several projects in works
By Steven Rosen
(Denver Post, July 28, 2002)
Director Steven Soderbergh
is, if anything, a man of varied and unusual interests.
"It's my dilettantism," he
jokes during a recent telephone interview.
He followed up his Oscar-winning direction of "Traffic," a
harrowingly naturalistic movie about the drug trade, with a remake of the
amusingly escapist Rat Pack caper film "Ocean's Eleven."
"Full Frontal," his latest movie (opening Friday), was influenced
by his love for the intellectually challenging "cinema of ideas" of
Jean-Luc Godard. It's a low-budget, video-shot, self-aware movie about the
nature of movies - starring Julia Roberts as an actress. (She won an Oscar
for "Erin Brockovich," another Soderbergh film.)
His next directorial effort, due out around Christmas, reflects his taste
for serious-minded science fiction. It's a remake of "Solaris,"
Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's novel about stranded
At about the same time, a movie he co-produced and George Clooney directed
- "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" - will also be released. It's
based on the "unauthorized autobiography" of Chuck Barris, creator of "The
Gong Show." Barris claims he was a CIA agent.
While engaged in these diverse pursuits, Soderbergh has also developed
another keen interest - one with a Colorado connection.
He has become a champion of the late humorist Terry Southern, author of
such books as "Candy" and "The Magic Christian" and
co-screenwriter of such 1960s films as "Dr. Strangelove," "The
Loved One" and "Easy Rider."
To help restore Southern's reputation, Soderbergh is working with Nile
Southern, Boulder-based executor of his father's estate. (Terry Southern,
who never lived in Colorado, died in 1995.)
They are mulling over cooperation on a number of projects, including
getting Warner Bros. to restore 1970's overlooked "End of the Road,"
which Terry produced and helped adapt from John Barth's darkly comic novel
about university life.
"We're just beginning," Soderbergh says, talking from Washington's Dulles
Airport while awaiting a flight to L.A. to promote "Full Frontal."
"I'm finishing "Solaris' and taking a year off, and I hope to go
through everything. We're trying to get Terry Southern's name back out
"I think any young person interested in film would have noticed that his
name was attached to some pretty fascinating films," the 39-year-old
director says. "I became aware of him through "Strangelove,' "Loved
One,' "End of the Road' and his books - and the fact he was on
the cover of "Sgt. Pepper.'
"For someone who was young and interested in iconoclastic figures, he was
a pretty intriguing one," Soderbergh explains. "And endlessly funny. And
smart. For someone like me, he was heroic in a way. I felt like I'd like
to be that guy."
Soderbergh and Nile Southern have only talked on the phone and via e-mail
to date. Elliott Gould, a friend of Terry Southern and an actor in "Ocean's
Eleven," helped connect them. Soderbergh already had read a newspaper
article by Robert Wilonsky about Nile's efforts on behalf of his father's
"I brought it up with Elliott, who said, "Oh, I know Nile, and you really
should get on that,' " Soderbergh says. Gould also told Nile to get in
touch with Soderbergh. He did and found a kindred spirit.
"He had read about my struggle in bringing Terry's work to the fore," Nile
says. "He saw the tragic aspects of it and that there must be something
more here. I think he was intrigued by it and felt there could be things
As for his latest film, Soderbergh is aware that "Full Frontal" is
an unusual effort for a commercial A-list Hollywood director - which he
now is. He wasn't always that way, however - his first film was 1989's
independently made "sex, lies and videotape," a surprise hit that
helped create the indie-film movement of the 1990s.
"Full Frontal" operates on several levels. On one, we watch as a
movie-within-a-movie, a romantic melodrama called "Rendezvous,"
unfurls. On another, we watch as the "offscreen" stars of "Rendezvous"
and others slowly prepare for a party in honor of a mysterious, powerful
producer named Gus.
As you might imagine from "Full Frontal's" provocative title, sex
features in those preparations - especially as it relates to a massage
received by a character played by David Duchovny.
Besides Roberts and Duchovny, "Full Frontal" stars Blair Underwood,
David Hyde Pierce, Mary McCormack, Catherine Keener, Nicky Katt and Erika
And an actor named Jeff Garlin does an uncanny impersonation of Harvey
Weinstein, co-owner of Miramax Films, "Full Frontal's" distributor.
"I actually wanted him (Weinstein) to be in it and he declined,"
Soderbergh says. "But Jeff Garlin, who played him, was really funny."
"Full Frontal" essentially is a parallel-construct movie that keeps
calling attention to itself as a movie, like Godard's work or - another
Soderbergh influence - Haskell Wexler's 1969 "Medium Cool."
It's also, in a way, a revisit to "sex, lies and videotape.' "I
think they are sort of kissing cousins in that they're both
character-driven films drenched in a certain amount of sex talk and sex
activity," Soderbergh says.
"If I were starting out today, I'd know my chances of getting a film made
were increased if it was small and had a certain erotic element in it," he
explains. "If I were in that position today, this is the film I'd make.
That's very much how I pitched it."
"Full Frontal's" "Rendezvous" passages are visually polished
and clear - like a movie. But "Full Frontal's" "Full Frontal"
sections - are you confused yet? - feature distorted and grainy
video-camera work. " "Rendezvous' exists in a continuum that is
constant but not synchronous to "Full Frontal,' " Soderbergh
explains. "They're sort of like concentric circles. There's one point in
the film where they link but then spin off.
"The idea behind it is that there's always a movie playing somewhere,
always a movie being made somewhere. I imagined "Rendezvous' as
always being on - always taking place somewhere. Whereas "Full Frontal'
exists more in the world we live in.
"I'm fascinated by the idea that that the audience will assume the "Full
Frontal' section of the film is more "real' than "Rendezvous'
when, in point of fact, they're both fake. I'm very interested in received
notions of what is real."
Of course, Soderbergh realizes the film, shot in just 18 days, may be too
different - and too weird - to attract a big audience. But he's willing to
"I needed a break from the sort of larger-scale films," he says. "I also
was anxious to see if you could take a few ideas, and a certain kind of
aesthetic associated with die-hard independent art-house movies, and cross
it over a little.
"I mean, the movie cost $2 million. It doesn't have to find a big
audience," he says. "But I was curious whether, if you took some ideas and
a way of shooting that people don't see very often, would they accept
someone like Julia Roberts in a movie that like this?
"I guess we'll know in a matter of weeks."