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Salesman Steven Soderbergh and the State of Cinema

Steven Soderbergh (State of Cinema)

The aftershocks of Steven Soderbergh’s far-reaching speech on the State of Cinema—delivered last Saturday at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival—are still been felt. In his frank and often humorous self-described “rant”, Soderbergh vigorously inspects the meaning of art, difference between ‘movies’ and ‘cinema’, film as business, and the need for artists to remain hopeful no matter how bleak things get. It is the kind of pep talk young soldiers like to hear from generals.

Steven Soderbergh—allegedly retiring as film director after his last hurrah, BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, the HBO Liberace biopic starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon—is not new to public grandstanding. He has done it before…before OCEAN’S 11, before the Oscar awards, before the highly cultivated public persona. Read his book Getting Away With It: Or: The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw published in 2000 or watch the wildly inventive SCHIZOPOLIS (2003) to understand Soderbergh’s many skills as filmmaker, thinker, articulator of the obvious and master aggregator of the prevailing zeitgeist.

In my view, Steven Soderbergh is a salesman. An erudite, charming and useful salesman.  Continue Reading