Over the last few weeks, I can’t tell you how many people have asked me if Steven Soderbergh is really retiring, and the short answer I generally give them is, “Of course not.” Not that I’m questioning Soderbergh’s sincerity. He has said for several years that he plans to stop making feature films once he turns 50, and now that the big birthday has arrived (it was Jan. 14), he has clung, quite directly, to that public plan, discussing his new psycho-pharmacological Hitchcockian thriller, Side Effects, as if it’s the last movie of his that you’ll see in theaters. (Behind the Candelabra, his juicy-sounding late-career Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, was turned down by all the major studios, who were scared of the subject matter — are they nuts? — which is why it will be seen this spring on HBO.) I believe Soderbergh when, in his recent wide-ranging interview with New York magazine, he talks about what he plans to do now: continue to “direct,” but in more offbeat mediums (and maybe on television), and to pursue his love of painting. One of the painters he idolizes is Lucien Freud — in the same way, perhaps, that he reveres and even deifies Richard Lester as a movie director. Soderbergh has always been a creature of role models, a guy who emulates from the outside more than he obsesses from the inside, and that may be one of the reasons that he’s such a chameleon as a filmmaker. He has many subjects that stoke his momentary passion (corporate chicanery, Che Guevara, male strippers, antidepressants), but none, perhaps, that rouse him to the point of consuming him. He dives in, then moves on. I like that about him, but a part of me hopes that it’s one of the things his retirement changes. READ FULL STORY
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