By the time Steven Soderbergh retires (we're still waiting to find out whether it'll be temporary or permanent) from filmmaking following the release of his final theatrical release Side Effects and the HBO premiere of his last film, Behind the Candelabra, he'll have helmed more than 25 features and a handful of shorts. And while many of those movies have deservedly received extensive acclaim and awards attention, some great ones have slipped through the cracks and still remain misunderstood and/or unappreciated. (Others, meanwhile, have deservedly languish in obscurity... looking at you, The Good German.) Here are our picks for the retiring director's five most underrated movies, in order of release; with no new Soderbergh features on the horizon for the foreseeable future, maybe these will finally get some attention.
If we look carefully at the movie trends of 2008, it's not hard to make a few predictions for the year ahead. Sure, some of these may seem kind of crazy, or maybe they sound flat-out impossible. But just remember these seven words: Steven Soderbergh to direct Cleopatra rock musical. Anything can happen, so get in on the ground floor of these predictions while you can!
For Steven Soderbergh's The Informant!, Matt Damon plays biochemist Mark Whitacre, a whistleblower at a food additives company. Given a picture of Damon in the role, with his prosthetic nose and mustache and the 30 pounds he gained for the role, and that bare outline of a plot, one could easily mistake the movie for The Insider, the Russell Crowe tobacco-industry drama that earned nominations for Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture in 2000. And while this movie is (mostly) a wacky comedy, don't be surprised if it replicates that nomination spread, and maybe even takes one home this time. Because while wacky, the based-on-true-events story and Damon's alternately understated and over-the-top performance may just have the humorous edge on Michael Mann's gloomy-gus exposé.
For those out there that have always wanted to see Michael Douglas in rhinestones, fur and pink (all at the same time), your dreams will come true in the not-too-distant future. Hey... Where'd everybody go? I was just trying to let them know that Michael Douglas has signed on to star in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh biopic about Liberace. It's true--Liberace himself had a lower hairline than Mr. Douglas currently does, but like I tell my boyfriend, oh my god, please wipe the crumbs off the counter. Also: It takes a real man to wear pink. Douglas will comb his hair forward, don the pink tuxedo and maybe even keep the counters clean as Mr. Showbiz for his Traffic director.
In many ways, Cleopatra was a woman ahead of her time. Through political machinations, she sought to secure her place in history, and if she could have seen into the future, she would have seen that her fame lived on, even if her empire did not. She would have also seen that she'll be getting the high-tech treatment as Steven Soderbergh plots to bring her story to the big screen. According to Variety, the director is planning to tell the story of Egypt's final pharaoah as a rock musical -- and it will be in 3-D. If she'd known this would some day be her fate, Cleo may have opted for a life of obscurity. [I think we're eight years beyond that. Have you seen Cleopatra 2525? - Zach]
As we mentioned back when it was announced that director Steven Soderbergh was making a Liberace biopic, the helmer would first take on the low-budget The Girlfriend Experience, which tells the story of a high-price call girl, for Mark Cuban and 2929 Entertainment. That production is finally underway in New York City, and news came out today that the director is staying fairly close to his source material, casting porn star Sasha Grey as the lead.
The New York Film Festival has announced its complete lineup, and it looks like they've gone bargain hunting at Shop-Rite's Cannes Cannes bash. In addition to the opening night presentation of Palme D'Or winner The Class, the snobfest I've attended 14 years in a row is also including Steven Soderbergh's Best Actor winner, Che, and Angelina Jolie's Changeling. Chouga and A Christmas Tale are also slated during the fest, which runs September 26 to October 12. Cue Cookie Monster's voiceover: "The New York Film Festival is brought to you today by the letter C for Class, Che, Changeling, Chouga, Cannes, and A Christmas Tale!" Completely by coincidence? Methinks not!