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?
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.