It is always a great pleasure to receive the new publication of the Playlist Society editions which regularly offers us great essays on music, cinema, literature, series.
Their formidable correction is enriched this month with a new post about a famous American director, Steven soderbergh. At the helm of this publication which made me discover this artist from a different perspective is Pauline Guedj, an anthropologist and journalist who works for the weekly Politis. She is the author of articles and books on African-American cultures as well as Louis Malle, views on America.
With this book, the author paints us a portrait of the artist and captures the themes that cross her career. Exploring time, spaces and bodies, she shows us that Soderbergh is an observer of the contemporary world and the mechanisms that govern it.
The beginning of the work is devoted to the Soderbergh method, it looks back on the Cannes festival in 1989 which saw Sex, lies and video, the first film of the American to find itself part of the official selection thanks to a combination of favorable circumstances. When the Palme d’Or seemed promised that year to the film of Spike lee, we learn that Wim wenders, president of the jury, played an important role in Soderbergh’s victory for the Palme d’Or. This first Soderbergh film will forever change the history of independent American cinema. He will also play a major role in the career of distributor and producer of a certain Westein.
Soderbergh defines himself as a chameleon, as someone whose career is not dictated by a predefined artistic direction but rather by a methodology of cinema which makes each film a unique experience. We learn a lot of things about the director’s filming methods, do many experiments which show that he lets himself be guided by the pleasure of making films.
The Soderbergh system is also an economic system. The book shows us that the director alternates between very big budget films and more modest productions. It is also a career built around different ruptures, as the film shows. Che which makes it switch to digital but also The Knick which imposes on him the diversion of the format of the series towards a feature film of approximately 10 hours. The book shows us that each of his works brings a major change and a questioning of previous projects.
The book is built around three parts entitled the brain it is the screen, body in movement and the circulation of fluids. They show us the issues of coherence within each film and how the director seeks to develop a filmography in which the works respond to each other. He has a real reflection on classical cinema that permeates his own works. The book also shows us the importance of the characters in his films, in particular their behavior and their thoughts. We also discover that medicine, surgery and physical illness are recurring themes at Soderbergh.
The book reveals a prolific, daring director who likes to muddy the waters by chaining blockbusters and intimate films. It appears to be at the forefront of technical tests in digital capture and economic innovations for the production and distribution of films. Director, cinematographer, cameraman, editor, producer and sometimes screenwriter, he redefines the production process of a work.
Pauline Guedj’s book is just fascinating, especially for me who didn’t know much about Soderbergh. He offers us a particularly original reflection on this director around the notion of “fluids” which turns out to be very relevant, fluidity in his very practice of cinema, fluidity during filming and fluidity of the world.
Once again, these Playlist Society editions amaze us with the quality of their publications which means that we are already looking forward to the next one.
We would love to say thanks to the writer of this post for this incredible content
Steven Soderbergh, fluid anatomy