The good stuff
By far one of the craziest and weirdest films Soderbergh directed. Schizopolis is near impossible to describe, but the dry and deadpan comedy that strips away the layer of decency built up by our society is a joy to behold. A tad long maybe, but that's hardly an issue when there's so much originality and creativity on display.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this is a boring and insignificant film, but as time passes Soderbergh talent starts to shine through. What is essentially a very simple story becomes fun and intriguing. Well acted, Soderbergh's direction is strong and the whole phone cinematography thing transcends its gimmicky nature.
Fun and quirky take on the Panama Papers scandal. In the same vein as McKay's The Big Short, Soderbergh tackles a pretty complex and dry subject in an accessible and amusing way. With a star-studded cast and plenty of flair, he turns what could've been a dull and lifeless affair into an extremely watchable film.
This is Soderbergh's adaptation of Lem's novel, not Soderbergh's remake of Tarkovsky's film. And that's a good thing really, since I'm not a big fan of Tarkovsky's sci-fi. The first time I watched Solaris I was really blown away by it, watching it again it's still a strong film, but it clearly lost some of its charm over time.
Chris is a psychiatrist who is called to help out with a mission near the planet Solaris. A crew has gone haywire over there and missions to retrieve them have all failed. When Chris arrives at the space station, he finds only two survivors. After staying the night, it becomes clear what kind of dangers they're up against.
The atmosphere is thick and brooding, but also a little cold and detached. Stylistically, Solaris has lost a bit of its shine, the soundtrack in particular felt a bit too bombastic. Performances are good, the mystery is intriguing and the pacing is apt, it's just that little extra polish that lacks to make this a true personal favorite.
Soderbergh's latest feels like a small diversion in between bigger projects. It's an odd and somewhat lazy mix of themes and elements that combine to form a contemporary tech thriller, but it's really just Soderbergh's direction that makes certain the film ends up as decent genre filler.
Kimi is a next-level digital assistant brand that differentiates itself through human intervention. Angela works as an evaluator for failed requests, when one day she receives a voice recording that has captured a crime in progress. She talks to her superiors, but they can't use the negative publicity so close to the launch of their latest update.
It's little more than a new take on the small man vs corporate overlord story, with a tech premise and an agoraphobic lead. These elements never feel very grounded and are merely an excuse for the thriller part of the film to move forward. The pacing is solid, the runtime short, and it never bores, but it's not a film that leaves a big impression.
Decent Soderbergh. Unsane delivers a nice spin on the horror genre, with a premise that is dark and grim, but in a very down-to-earth way. Sadly the "shot on iPhone" novelty doesn't bring too much to the table. Would've worked better as a traditionally shot film, but still worth a gamble.
One of Soderbergh's indie projects. A small but genuine and candid drama about a high class call girl trying to balance her work with a relationship. The acting is decent, the cinematography is intimate and the film doesn't overstay its welcome. It's nothing out of the ordinary, just a solid and well-made film.
Worthy but flawed
Soderbergh's latest is a streaming exclusive. That's a little disappointing maybe, but I'm glad he's at least back to directing films. While he hasn't lost his flair as a director, Let Them All Talk felt a bit overripe. It's probably the topic that didn't really appeal to me, still I was hoping for something a little livelier.
Alice is a renowned writer who has been selected to receive a rare literary prize. The only problem is that she won't fly, so she has to take the boat from the US to England to receive the prize. She invites two of her old friends, and her younger nephew for support. During the trip the three women catch up with each other, while Alice's nephew becomes infatuated with Alice's literary agent.
Performances are a bit colorless, the conversations are rather dry and the drama feels a bit highbrow. The cinematography is nice enough and there's definitely some of Soderbergh oldskool playfulness present in his direction, but that wasn't enough to keep me engaged for the entire runtime.
Nice doc on Spalding Gray, though maybe a little too focused on his work and monologues. While they are primarily stories about himself and his family, Gray literally explains their poetic foundation, which makes them less fit for a documentary. Even so, a decent portrait of a man with an interesting life and fine career.