Saturday, September 26, 2009
Slower than Light
I've mentioned in the past my admiration of Richard Linklater, a director who seems to swing between smaller independent projects and larger crowd-pleasing fare with impressive ease; making strong personal artistic statements with the former and not seeming to slump through his Hollywood projects.
Steven Soderbergh is Linklater's twin, but he's the boring one (not to be confused with the slow one, Gus Van Sant). I've gotten nothing out of any of his films that I've seen, small-scale or large, and even when the concepts sound intriguing (as The Girlfriend Experience does), I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be like all other Sooderbergh films - claustrophobic, slow, and completely obsessed with its own self-importance.
His remake of Tarkovsky's Solaris (being closer to that film than the original novel) is more of this. Where Tarkovsky uses extended cuts and slow pacing to build an air of sentimental existentialism (you'd have to see it to know what I mean), Soderbergh's film is just turgid. I could probably go on about the issues with Soderbergh's take, but I'll just say that the man perhaps needs to do a few projects where he serves as D.P. for a real storytelling director, and then bring those chops back to his own work. Much as Nigel Tufnel points out that there's a fine line between clever and stupid, there also is a line between artful and fucking dull, and Soderbergh seems to slide over it every time out of the gate.