kottke.org posts about Steven Soderbergh
At the recent San Francisco Internation Film Festival, Steven Soderbergh gave a keynote about the current state of cinema. It is worth reading if you enjoy movies or are engaged in any sort of creative work.
But before we talk about movies we should talk about art in general, if that's possible. Given all the incredible suffering in the world I wonder, what is art for, really? If the collected works of Shakespeare can't prevent genocide then really, what is it for? Shouldn't we be spending the time and resources alleviating suffering and helping other people instead of going to the movies and plays and art installations? When we did Ocean's Thirteen the casino set used $60,000 of electricity every week. How do you justify that? Do you justify that by saying, the people who could've had that electricity are going to watch the movie for two hours and be entertained - except they probably can't, because they don't have any electricity, because we used it. Then I think, what about all the resources spent on all the pieces of entertainment? What about the carbon footprint of getting me here? Then I think, why are you even thinking that way and worrying about how many miles per gallon my car gets, when we have NASCAR, and monster truck pulls on TV? So what I finally decided was, art is simply inevitable. It was on the wall of a cave in France 30,000 years ago, and it's because we are a species that's driven by narrative. Art is storytelling, and we need to tell stories to pass along ideas and information, and to try and make sense out of all this chaos. And sometimes when you get a really good artist and a compelling story, you can almost achieve that thing that's impossible which is entering the consciousness of another human being - literally seeing the world the way they see it. Then, if you have a really good piece of art and a really good artist, you are altered in some way, and so the experience is transformative and in the minute you're experiencing that piece of art, you're not alone. You're connected to the arts. So I feel like that can't be too bad.
Update: If you prefer to watch the speech, have at it:
Director Steven Soderbergh is not making any more Hollywood movies and plans to focus on his painting, importing Bolivian liquor, reading more, and doing more theater/TV. This conversation with him is informative and delightful.
On the few occasions where I've talked to film students, one of the things I stress, in addition to learning your craft, is how you behave as a person. For the most part, our lives are about telling stories. So I ask them, "What are the stories you want people to tell about you?" Because at a certain point, your ability to get a job could turn on the stories people tell about you. The reason [then-Universal Pictures chief] Casey Silver put me up for [1998's] Out of Sight after I'd had five flops in a row was because he liked me personally. He also knew I was a responsible filmmaker, and if I got that job, the next time he'd see me was when we screened the movie. If I'm an asshole, then I don't get that job. Character counts. That's a long way of saying, "If you can be known as someone who can attract talent, that's a big plus."
Last month, Steven Soderbergh's list of what he's been watching and reading told us that the director watched Raiders of the Lost Ark in black & white three times in one week, presumably to emphasize the film's structure and cinematography. Flavorwire's Jason Bailey wondered what other films might be better in black & white and compiled a list of ten, with video examples and commentary of each. Included are Raiders, Fargo, and A Christmas Story.
Steven Soderbergh recently shared a list of all the movies, books, TV shows, plays, and short stories he watched and read over the past year. Among the movies he watched were The Social Network (at least five times), Raiders of the Lost Ark (three times in one week), Network, Idiocracy, and both worthwhile Godfather films. (via studio 360)
Steven Soderbergh on the new pan-and-scan: the cropping of 2.40:1 films to fit the HD TV screen.
Television operators, the people who buy and produce things for people to watch on TV, are taking the position that films photographed in the 2.40:1 ratio should be blown up or chopped up to fit a 16:9 (1.78:1) ratio. They are taking the position that the viewers of television do not like watching 2.40 films letterboxed to fit their 16:9 screens, and that a film insisting on this is worth significantly less -- or even nothing -- to them.
He has particular contempt for AMC and HBO:
[HBO wants] everything pan/scanned. On the Ocean's films I had to get somebody VERY HIGH UP WITH WAY BETTER SHIT TO DO to call them and make an exception. Their influence means they could make this problem go away single-handedly, but since they won't, they get to be the poster child for stupidity. Not that they're uninterested in hypocrisy too; while their PR caters to the most adventurous TV watchers, their actions indicate they think their viewers are very, very afraid of anything actually different.
I watched The Darjeeling Limited on Starz a few months ago. This is a movie where the wider aspect ratio is almost another character and the knuckleheads at Starz chopped the hell out of it. Blech.
Let's take a look at who's still alive here. Brad Pitt: yes. Aaron Sorkin: yes. Steven Soderbergh: no. Expected soon: Michael Bay, Alan Ball, Sam Mendes, McG, and M Night Shamalamadingdong. (thx, david)
The combination of Pitt and Soderbergh and Lewis wasn't enough to keep the Moneyball movie afloat...Sony canceled it "days before shooting was to begin".
Accounts from more than a dozen people involved with the film, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid damaging professional relationships, described a process in which the heady rush toward production was halted by a studio suddenly confronted by plans for something artier and more complex than bargained for.
Sony was probably looking for something more BIG RED TEXTish.
Wait, Steven Soderbergh is directing the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' Moneyball? When did this wonderfulness happen?!! Last I heard, the director was the guy who did Marley & Me. Perhaps Pitt put the kibosh on that and lobbied for Soderbergh? (via fimoculous)
A longish interview with Steven Soderbergh about his Che movie and filmmaking in general. The first question is about how all his movies are related.
The good news is that I don't have to know if there's a link. Wells had a great quote once where some critic asked him a similar question. He said, "I'm the bird, and you're the ornithologist." I don't really sit down and think on a macro level how or if these things are connected. They obviously are in the sense that I wanted to make them. And so there must be something in them that I'm drawn to.
Soderbergh also talks about following your interest when choosing projects and not worrying so much about the money.
Yeah. And I'm a big believer that if there's something you really want to do, don't walk away because of the deal. I see it happen a lot. I see people walk away from things because they didn't get the deal they wanted.
Teaser trailer for Oceans 13. Looks like #13 is Andy Garcia.
Interview with Steven Soderbergh, mostly about The Good German but also about some upcoming projects. "I think for the most part intellectuals don't make very good movies. It's an emotional medium and I think you can really outsmart yourself." That quote reminds me of something I read on Clusterflock last night: "the giants of the imagination can set the giants of the intellect aquiver".
An interview with Steven Soderbergh: "The hardest thing in the world is to be good and clear when creating anything. It's the hardest thing in the world. It's really easy to be obscure and elliptical and so fucking hard to be good and clear. It breaks people. Because you don't often get encouragement to do that, to be good and clear."