Steven Soderbergh could never do a franchise blockbuster because there’s no sex

Steven Soderbergh has an excellent interview with the Daily Beast to promote his latest film. He’s a prolific director and producer, and he’s found a strange sort of harmony with streaming, specifically for HBO Max. He works fast, releases his films quickly and he’s already moved on to five other projects. His new film is Kimi, starring Zoe Kravitz. Zoe plays a woman analyzing data streams “collected by an Alexa-style personal assistant” and Zoe’s character “stumbles upon what she believes to be a recording of a violent crime. Getting to the bottom of that mystery, however, proves more difficult than initially appeared.” It sounds good! Soderbergh spoke to the Daily Beast about big tech surveillance and how he could never work on a comic-book movie because those films are sexless. Some highlights:

Whether he owns an Alexa/Google Home personal assistant: “No, I wouldn’t be able to deal with that—while admitting that I know my phone is listening to me. You know your phone is listening to you. You’ve seen your phone push ads to you regarding something you were talking about 15 minutes earlier. So, for me to take a position like I would never have an Alexa in my house is kind of ridiculous because I have a smartphone right here. Now, I don’t take it upstairs with me. When I decide I’m going to sleep, I don’t want this thing anywhere near me.

Can “paranoid thrillers” still be made? “I’ll say this: there are no conspiracies anymore. It’s all out in the open. You read Scott Galloway’s book The Four, and deep-dive into what these gigantic companies are up to and about, and that’s not paranoia—that’s happening. We’re in a really unique situation now where these companies have more power than governments, and yet nobody there is elected, and we don’t know what their plans are, and we only find out about the bad sh-t they’re up to when some whistleblower comes forward. All of the mistrust that came out of the 1970s because of Vietnam and Watergate has now been sort of redirected and fragmented so that it feels like it’s taking up more space in our daily lives than it did back in the 1970s. The idea that there are powerful entities and people having a real, direct influence on how you live your day-to-day life—that used to be a thing that somebody on a street corner would be screaming in a loop, and it’s the reality that we live in now.

Whether he’s interested in making franchise blockbusters: “Not really, and I’m not a snob; it’s not that I feel it’s some lower tier in any way. It really becomes about what universe you occupy as a storyteller. I’m just too earthbound to really release myself to a universe in which Newtonian physics don’t exist [laughs]. I just have a lack of imagination in that regard, which is why the one foray I had into pure science-fiction [2002’s Solaris] was essentially a character drama that happened to be set on a spaceship. Also, for a lot of these, for me to understand the world and how to write or supervise the writing of the story and the characters—apart from the fact that I can bend time and defy gravity and shoot beams out of my fingers—there’s no f–king. Nobody’s f–king! Like, I don’t know how to tell people how to behave in a world in which that is not a thing. The fantasy-spectacle universe, as far as I can tell, typically doesn’t involve a lot of f–king, and also things like—who’s paying these people? Who do they work for? How does this job come to be?

[From The Daily Beast]

I like that he says “I’m not a snob; it’s not that I feel it’s some lower tier in any way…” It’s true, and honestly, the comic-book fans would not WANT Soderbergh to direct one of their precious adaptations. Soderbergh would go in, shoot a Marvel film in 35 days – acting as his own cinematographer and DP – reject all greenscreens and CGI, and he would change the story so Thor had long, languid f–k sessions with a smart-mouthed escort. Sh-t, now I kind of want to see THAT movie. Oh well!! And he’s dead right about paranoia/conspiracies and about data collection and smartphones and all of that.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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11 Responses to “Steven Soderbergh could never do a franchise blockbuster because there’s no sex”

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  1. Otherside says:

    I like his answer and it doesn’t sound snobbish at all. He clearly lays out that his particular style as an artist/filmmaker would not be best suited/he wouldn’t enjoy himself for a blockbuster comic movie. I found his answer much more honest and thoughtful then those who just rag on comic movie as if they aren’t good film/movies.
    This interview made me really like this guy.

  2. smcollins says:

    I love SS, definitely one of my favorite filmmakers! It’s true, his style of storytelling wouldn’t jive with a comic book movie but he’s no one trick pony, either. He does have range. He’s directed everything from Erin Brokovich, Traffic and Contagion to the Magic Mike films and Logan Lucky to the fun & sexy Ocean films and Out of Sight. And let’s not forget the one that put him on the map, sex, lies & videotape. But then again…his take on a comic book story *would* be fascinating and worth watching.

    • Lexilla says:

      sex, lies and videotape is permanently on my DVR and I still love watching it every now and then. One of the best crafted films of all time. And that was his first!

  3. Michael says:

    The Zoe Kravitz movie Kimi has been out for at least a month. I watched it. Pretty good too. Especially the ending

  4. Lightpurple says:

    Did he not see Deadpool? He should talk to Ryan Reynolds.

  5. Eurydice says:

    Not quite sure I get what he’s saying – there are a lot of stories/movies set in real life that don’t include sex scenes. And pretty much every movie is about the characters, even sci-fi. The Marvel franchise is essentially a maxi-series, with character arcs that develop through the many films – they’re not the deepest stories in the world, but they’re there. The thing about sex scenes is that they’re action scenes and should propel the story or characterization the way any other action would – either going into a situation or out of a situation.

    But maybe he’s saying that he can’t imagine a sci-fi world in which people actually have sex, or that sci-fi worlds as presented in film seem inhuman, or maybe he just likes sex scenes. I don’t know, it’s an interesting take – he’s a very good director and I’d like to understand his point of view.

    • Veronica S. says:

      Oh, I get exactly what he’s saying. Those films are marketed to be family friendly and are dumbed down considerably, but they live in that weird space where violence and war are completely fine for kids to watch, but somehow sex and romance are not on the table, even toned down to PG-13 level. It’s the original American double standard at play, and it’s one that has a lot of unseen impact on the way we view sex and romance on a social level.

      When you look at the difference between movies made in the 90s, the difference is pretty shocking. Everything feels far more sanitized and deeply conservative these days. It’s deeply regressive, IMO. I’m LGBT+, and I can see the effects of the dialogue creeping into the community. People who think Pride should be sanitized and family friendly (what??). People who think proper LGBT+ rep is forcing us into heteronormative institutions of marriage and monogamy while stripping us of any reflection of sexual behavior otherwise. It’s an insidious problem because it quietly makes people repress themselves without even realizing it consciously.

  6. Jessica says:

    I know the studio mergers mean it will never happen, but I’d love to see Soderbergh direct the Gambit movie Channing Tatum spent like 5 years trying to get made.

  7. Jill says:

    He doesn’t want to do a big, successful franchise with no sex, you mean like Ocean’s 11-13? Or he just doesn’t want to do an MCU movie? Because we all know who in the MCU can get it, even if it’s not on screen.