Steven Soderbergh was born in Atlanta
, Georgia on January 14, 1963, and was raised in Baton Rouge
, Louisiana. His interest in becoming a filmmaker came early, and he was shooting short Super-8
mm films by the time he was fifteen. Once he graduated from high school he headed for Hollywood immediately. Soderbergh worked as a freelance
editor for a while, then returned home to continue working on short films and writing scripts. He managed to get the rock group “Yes
” interested in his filmmaking, and they had him direct a documentary
for the band. They loved it and then asked him to create a video for them using concert footage- which ended up nominated for a 1986 Grammy
for Long Form Music Video.
This was followed with the low-budget “Sex, Lies and Videotape” in 1989 starring James Spader and Andie MacDowell. A truly excellent film, the movie won the Palme d’Or in Cannes, was the pride of the newly-found Sundance Film Festival, and won Spader a well-deserved Best Actor award. Soderbergh also received an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay. The several films that followed were decent, including a spooky black and white shot film, “Kafka,” starring Jeremy Irons, which was based on the life and letters of the writer.
Soon after came a few short films, including “Schizopolis” and “Gray’s Anatomy,” which was a well-crafted simple film which basically consisted of actor Spaulding Gray telling an insane story of an ear disorder. It wouldn’t be until Soderbergh directed “Out of Sight,” in 1998, starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez, that he would regain his commercial popularity. Although “Out of Sight” did not do real well in the theaters, the film proved easily one of the best that came out that summer. Soderbergh’s engaging filming style, combined with truly good performances by actors whom- let’s face it- you wouldn’t normally expect much from, turned out wonderfully. Soderbergh’s use of jumpcuts in the movie, bringing back techniques originally used by Francois Truffaut, helped to distance the film from the typical “summer blockbuster” flicks in theaters.
His next movie, “The Limey,” was also an excellent film. Once again, the movie did not make a splash when first released, but the flick is certainly a must-see for anyone who enjoys Soderbergh’s movies. After this film, of course, came the biggest hits for Soderbergh yet, and rightly so. “Erin Brockovich” and "Traffic” both came out the same year, 2000, and both proved immense successes for the filmmaker. The beauty of “Traffic,” which focuses on the drug wars, is hard to describe hastily, and excellent write-ups on the movie can be found under it’s title.
“Ocean’s Eleven” was one of Soderbergh’s latest movies, which opened on Dec. 14, 2001 in theaters. The film stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia. A big group plans to steal a gob of money from three of the biggest hotel/casinos in Vegas (The Bellagio, MGM Grand and The Mirage), and it is a re-make of the same-named 1960 film. Although I admit I am a bit biased, considering Soderbergh is my favorite director, I very much enjoyed this movie. Some of his previous films are certainly better (there’s only so much you can add to a typical heist plot), but it’s still worth a gander.
His latest movie- which is really good- is “Full Frontal,” and came out in August 2002. It stars Julia Roberts, Katherine Keener, David Hyde Pierce, Blair Underwood and David Duchovny.