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?
Full Frontal A Mere Sketch
Director Soderbergh Has No Lofty Hopes For Star-Laden Movie
By RON DICKER
(Hartford Courant, July 28, 2002)
"It's good for me as a
filmmaker to be the observer," Steven Soderbergh says in explaining his
recent move to Manhattan from Los Angeles. "I don't want to be observed."
But no matter where Soderbergh is on the planet, few directors are being
watched with greater interest. He has three hits in a row, "Erin
Brockovich," "Traffic" and "Ocean's 11," winning a
best-director Academy Award for "Traffic." That is why his "Full
Frontal," opening Friday, will get more attention than most $2 million
"Ocean's 11" solidified his standing as a populist filmmaker. He
tamed a circus full of Hollywood's biggest names - including George
Clooney, Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt - and crafted a glossy remake that
grossed $183 million.
It was pure popcorn, but it caused caviar-priced angst. Soderbergh says he
knew the film would be a lot more fun to watch than make.
"There were moments of sheer terror," recalls Soderbergh, who wears thick
blue jeans and high-top Doc Martens in a SoHo office despite the 98-degree
sauna outside. "All the time I was thinking what I would give to be
dealing with nothing but actors and performance all day," he said.
So he rustled up the cash for "Full Frontal," cleared 18 days for
theshoot and invited some of the Soderbergh Players, including Roberts and
Pitt. No entourages, no limos, no craft service. It said so right on the
list of no-nos that Soderbergh gave to his actors.
"Full Frontal" chronicles 24 hours in the lives of mostly show-biz
typesin L.A. Soderbergh says the movie is what "sex, lies and videotape,"
his 1989 independent hit, would look like today if someone put a gun to
his head and told him to re-create it.
Soderbergh occupies the rarefied air of Directors Who Matter Who Make
Money. In 2001, he became the first director in nearly 60 years to earn
two Academy Award nominations for best director in the same year. Both
those films, "Erin Brockovich" and "Traffic," were also
nominated for best picture.
He has no such lofty aspirations for "Full Frontal." "I was
thinking of my own creative self-preservation," he says. "Certainly I'm an
enemy of preciousness. I'm an enemy of the idea that anything I do is
important. I do like the idea of being able to sketch and have it
acknowledged as such. This is a sketch. It doesn't have to be a towering
"Full Frontal" centers on the romantic tension between a celebrity
journalist (Roberts) and an action star (Blair Underwood) who is relegated
to being Brad Pitt's sidekick. Everyone else, including David Hyde
Pierce's frustrated screenwriter and Catherine Keener's corporate
henchwoman, scrambles for sanity.
Everyone will eventually meet at the 40th birthday party of David
Duchovny's character, the producer Gus, who shares a buzzed-about erection
scene with a masseuse played by Mary McCormack.
The digital scenes have the same voyeuristic quality as "sex, lies and
videotape." But Soderbergh's inspiration was "Cops."
Soderbergh's girlfriend, E! hostess Jules Asner, turned him on to
the reality show, which shows segment after segment of the police in
pursuit of suspects via jittery hand-held camera shots. "That's how I
wanted the movie to feel, like I'm chasing the characters," he says.
The match between Soderbergh, the auteur turned green-light giant, and
Asner, the former model who now chirps for one of Hollywood's house
organs, seems an unlikely one on the surface. Soderbergh was divorced from
actress Betsy Brantley in 1994, and they have an 11-year-old daughter,
Sarah, who on this day has moved to Virginia with her mother after two
years in London.
Asked about his relationship with Asner, Soderbergh says they have a pact
not to discuss it. Then he offers, "It's just so embarrassing; um, I don't
know. It's just been a good thing. I don't know what else to say. It's
just been a good thing for me."
Soderbergh says he has been told his movies have a Southern sensibility,
but he never bothers to ask why. He was born in Atlanta and grew up in
Baton Rouge, La., where his father was a professor at Louisiana State
University. Soderbergh took university film classes while still in high
He then moved to Los Angeles and toiled in go-fer jobs before returning to
Baton Rouge. He eventually landed an editing gig at Showtime and made a
1986 Grammy-nominated film about the rock band Yes before working
on a short that he expanded into "sex, lies and videotape," which
won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
He followed with a handful of obscure movies before bringing Elmore
Leonard's novel "Out of Sight" (1998) to a commercially viable life
while turbocharging the careers of its stars, Clooney and Jennifer Lopez.
Now Soderbergh is trying science-fiction. He pitched "Solaris" to
Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox as a mix of "2001: A
Space Odyssey" and "The Last Tango in Paris."
Stanislaw Lem's novel, adapted for the screen in 1971 by Russian director
Andrei Tarkovsky, is about a planet that torments astronauts with their
As usual, Soderbergh is on time and on budget for the $46 million project,
which will premiere at Christmastime. While he promotes "Full Frontal,"
he is putting in 11- to 12-hour days to edit "Solaris."
Bringing a larger work to fruition has ratcheted up the pressure again. He
plans to take a year off after that project.
"I have a stronger sense than normal of 'don't blow this,'" he says. "I
was more uncompromising on the movie than I've ever been. I pushed people
more than I usually push them."