Anthropologist and journalist, Pauline Guedj decides to radiograph Steven Soderbergh’s cinema. From an apparently protean filmography, she draws constants and operating methods that shed light on the work of a director who has experienced everything, or almost everything: blockbusters such as independent productions, the seventh art and television series, resounding successes just like painful failures.
Pauline Guedj does not fail to point out: at first glance, everything suggests that the career of Steven Soderbergh is characterized by successive ruptures. Out of reach marked the end of his activity as a screenwriter, Bubble initiated the use of amateur actors and the creation of a new economic model (based on VOD), Che has initiated a switch to digital, The Knick saw the filmmaker experimenting with the format of the television series … Steven Soderbergh, fluid anatomy is however an invitation to go beyond the idea of perpetual and final revolutions. Its author describes an apparently protean filmography as a space where the elements respond to each other. “Fluidity of the trajectory, fluidity of the methodology, fluidity of life”, she specifies.
To support her demonstration, Pauline Guedj evokes several recurring motifs / themes. This is the case with globalization and movements, which are the object of a triple exploitation in Contagion, Traffic and The Laundromat. Viruses, drugs and money circulate there across borders. The bodies, male as well as female, their staging and use merge abundantly into Magic mike, The Girlfriend Experience Where Trapped. The direction of actors of Steven Soderbergh is moreover described as a choreography between the camera and the body of the actors. The filmmaker particularly insists on the spontaneity and “physicality” of the characters. Sport is found in various forms in High Flying Bird, Logan Lucky, Ocean’s Eleven Where Out of reach, while having been the subject of an aborted project, Moneyball. Scholarly, and based on her own observations as well as public statements, Pauline Guedj recounts how Soderbergh’s films resonate with each other, with the reader traveling through them, and becoming familiar with the sensitivity. and the creativity of a director, to say the least, unique.
Steven Soderbergh is described in this fascinating booklet as a director sensitive to colors, textures and craftsmanship (in the noblest sense of the term). He surrounded himself with a troop of faithful, including Matt Damon, George Clooney, Channing Tatum or Don Cheadle. He does a great deal of documentation before conceiving a film, attaches great importance to space (especially the southern United States, where he spent his childhood), readily devotes himself to non-linear structures (English is an edifying example) and the multiplicity of points of view (Bubble Where The Girlfriend Experience, to quote only those). Pauline Guedj also recalls, illustrating a desire to free oneself from cinematographic canons, that Paranoia was shot entirely with iPhones. Steven Soderbergh thus appears to us as an experimenter with continuity in his ideas, seeking both to recycle his recipes and to reformat them, in a fluid and perpetual momentum. A way of doing things that perhaps explains his ups and downs, summarized in the first pages of the book. After an unexpected Palme d’Or in Cannes, the director from Bâton-Rouge (Louisiana) has in fact continued to alternate ups and downs, often taking more interest in individualities and concepts (reconstitution, photography, reasons…) than to projects taken as a whole. To take the full measure, this “Anatomy of fluids” is indicated.
Steven Soderbergh, fluid anatomy, Pauline Guedj
Playlist Society, November 2021, 160 pages
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“Steven Soderbergh, anatomy of fluids”: echoes and (r) evolutions | LeMagduCine