We’ve been hearing reports for absolutely ages from various sources that include Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh himself, that the diverse and talented filmmaker would be retiring from the film business.
However, with Contagion opening to strong reviews at the Venice Film Festival, the director has said in a press conference that he’s not retiring from filmmaking but simply taking a break.
Just last week he said this:
I’m interested in exploring another art form while I have the time and ability to do so. I’ll be the first person to say if I can’t be any good at it and run out of money I’ll be back making another Ocean’s movie.
But this week, in front of press at Venice, he has said this:
It’s less dramatic that it sounds; it’s just a sabbatical… I’m just gonna disappear for a while. I need to. I’ve been running really fast for quite a while. It’s been non-stop since ‘Out of Sight.’ That’s a lot of work.
While many say he’s going to go paint, when quizzed on what he would do, he responded with this:
I don’t know. Interview people. I’ve done it a couple of times and I really enjoy it. I did a book of interviews with a filmmaker and it was really great to walk him through things and ask ‘How was this done?’ ‘How was this accomplished?’ I love process. I’m a process person. I like talking about how things were done as opposed to what they mean.
So he’s pretty much just going on a hiatus from filmmaking, not retiring. The guy really needs to make up his mind surrounding this whole affair and give us one definitive statement as to what the hell he is going to do.
If he does retire, it will be sad to see him leave. He delivered one of cinema’s greatest directorial debuts (Sex, Lies and Videotape), won Oscars for making films on his own terms, and not to the concessions of what appeals to Academy voters, plus he has never committed the cardinal sin of cinema: making a boring film (despite the varying qualities of some).
The man has a really interesting slate of films lined up before he goes on his sabbatical. The viral thriller Contagion will debut in the US on Friday, his female driven action thriller Haywire will arrive in January, the male stripper pic Magic Mike is currently in pre-production and The Man From UNCLE remake is on the horizon, despite its leading man dropping out.
No other filmmaker has a list of back to back projects which is that diverse and interesting, he is a director who likes to stretch his ability. Even though he isn’t always successful, at least he is trying to create something fresh instead rehashing the same formula. Let’s hope that this is just a break and not permanent retirement. Filmmaking needs Steven Soderbergh.