Sunday, July 01, 2012
The Good, The Bland, and the Ugly: Steven Soderbergh
Posted by Courtney Small
When Jenny (JBT) pitched the idea for a recurring feature called The Good, The Bland, and the Ugly, I was immediately on board. If there is one thing I have learned from blogging about films, and talking to those who love film, it is that everyone has different opinions on what makes up the best works of an actor, director, writer, etc. Some of the best discussions arise when people are adamantly defending a work that someone else hates.
The premise of this is simple: if someone, who knows little about the director/actor/etc. in question, asked you to select one film for each of the following three categories below what films would they be?:
1) The Good – A film they should seek out right away
2) The Bland – Not among the best, but still a film they should see.
3) The Ugly – If pressed for time, this is the one film that they should skip in order to squeeze in more hours for the top works.
Keeping this in mind, my three would be as follow:
The Good – As a Steven Soderbergh fan I would argue that 90% of his films fall into this category. However, keeping in mind the rules established, if I am only allowed to pick one film to support it would have to be Out of Sight. My knee-jerk reaction is to go with The Limey, Solaris, or Schizopolis, but Out of Sight is the Soderbergh film I find myself revisiting the most. Out of Sight tells the tale of a bank robber (George Clooney) and a U.S. Marshal (Jennifer Lopez) who fall in love after being forced to spend time in a car trunk together. What I like about this film is that it perfectly displays Soderbergh’s style while still being accessible to the mainstream. An added bonus is that the script is just so immensely pleasing to the ear. Not to mention that it is one of the sexiest film ever made that features very little sex.
The Bland – King of the Hill. The story focuses on a young boy (Jesse Bradford) who struggles to survive on his own in a hotel during the Great Depression. To me this film always seems to be forgotten when movie lovers are debating Soderbergh’s films. I would like to think it is because it came in that period just after Sex Lies and Videotapes where everything he released (e.g. Kafka, The Underneath, etc.) was compared to that film. Outside of Erin Brockovich, this is probably Soderbergh’s most mainstream film to date. Regardless, the film works well for what it is. Those looking for a more stylized, and/or more experimental, Soderbergh film will probably be disappointed. However, those looking for a nice way to kill a few hours should give this film a chance.
The Ugly – There was a time when Ocean’s Twelve would have been in this spot but, after several blogger pub night debates that led to me re-watching the film, I have seen the light on that film and now quite enjoy it. So I will go with a film that I had the exact opposite experience with, Bubble. The film is a murder mystery of sorts revolving around a group of co-workers at a doll-making factory. I had originally liked the film when I first saw it at TIFF back in 2005. However, I find that the film does not hold up well upon subsequent viewings. While I am all for Soderbergh experimenting with various techniques (e.g. using non-actors) and technology, it is actually the main story that is just not that gripping.
What films would you select for each category? Provide reasons for your selections in the comments section.
Labels: The Good The Bland The Ugly