Side Effects: Why We’ll Miss Steven Soderbergh

by Ethan Alter February 8, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Side Effects</i>: Why We’ll Miss Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh has been threatening to retire from filmmaking for some time now, but with Side Effects, he really means it. This is the last theatrical feature that the director of some of the finest movies of the past twenty-five odd years (if forced to choose, my Top 5 would probably look something like King of the Hill, Out of Sight, Che, The Limey and The Informant!, but that's leaving out a host of other great films, including sex, lies and videotape and Contagion) will helm for the foreseeable future, as he instead turns his focus to other artistic pursuits, painting and theater among them. (Soderbergh's does have one last narrative feature in the pipeline, the Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra, which is scheduled to premiere on HBO later this year.) As a swan song, Side Effects -- which stars Rooney Mara as the pill-popping wife of a disgraced Wall Street turk (Channing Tatum) fresh out of a prison stint for insider trading -- won't join the ranks of Soderbergh's finest achievements, marred as it is by a third act turn into thriller territory that, while entertaining, suffers from a series of too-convenient coincidences and a reliance on one very unfortunate stereotype. Still, the film does effectively encapsulate what has made him one of America's leading directors for almost three decades now... and why he'll be missed now that he's (at least temporarily) gone.

Side Effects: Steven Soderbergh’s Five Most Underrated Movies

by Ethan Alter February 6, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Side Effects</i>: Steven Soderbergh’s Five Most Underrated Movies

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.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

by Ethan Alter May 1, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Here's one person who wasn't entertained by 21 Jump Street

Contagion: Captain Trips Rides Again

by Ethan Alter September 9, 2011 6:00 am
<i>Contagion</i>: Captain Trips Rides Again

The killer virus movie has been a Hollywood staple for decades now, but it's interesting to note how differently the genre has been interpreted over the years. For example, 1971's The Andromeda Strain is a low-key mystery, while 1995's Outbreak plays like a flat-out Jerry Bruckheimer-style action movie. Meanwhile, 2002's 28 Days Later and 2007's I Am Legend use their viruses as a gateway to exploring a post-apocalyptic world populated by zombies and vampires respectively. And now we have the industry's latest exercise in viral entertainment, Contagion, which takes the form of a classic procedural, the kind delivered week in and week out on shows like Law & Order and CSI. In fact, the sprawling screenplay by Scott Z. Burns could easily serve as a jumping-off point for an ongoing TV series that tracks the spread of a deadly virus across the country as a sizeable team of brave men and women mobilize to stop it.

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, October 23, 2012

by Ethan Alter October 23, 2012 6:00 am
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Uncle Sam urges you to do your patriotic duty and see Magic Mike.

Applied Sabermetrics 101: The Curious Case of Moneyball

by Ethan Alter September 21, 2011 4:51 pm
Applied Sabermetrics 101: The Curious Case of <i>Moneyball</i>

After checking out the movie version of Moneyball earlier this week, we were so inspired by Oakland A's GM Billy Beane's innovative use of "sabermetrics" in building his record-setting 2002 team, we wanted to apply the same close statistical analysis to how the film that's opening in theaters on Friday came together following a few false starts. Originally set to be directed by The Devil Wears Prada's David Frankel, Steven Soderbergh took over the director's chair in 2008 and cast Demetri Martin opposite Brad Pitt's Beane. The following year, Sony Pictures halted production just before the cameras were set to roll and shuffled the deck another time, replacing Soderbergh with Bennett Miller, Martin with Jonah Hill and bringing in screenwriter Aaron Sorkin to punch up a script credited to Steve Zaillian and Stan Chervin. How will these various moves impact the movie's box-office performance? Let's check the stats.

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