By my count, by 2010’s end Steven Soderbergh will have released or began work on no less than six separate films. Even by his own prodigiously prolific standards, that’s a personal best. “And Everything Is Going Fine” — his fine video memorial for Spalding Gray — is still making the festival rounds, poised to play at Edinburgh next.
While in Australia directing a play he swore he would never restage or film, he found the time to shoot a movie called “The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg” that he may or may not release, apparently based on his mood. He’s also preparing to direct a horror movie for Warner Bros. (“Contagion”), shooting new footage for a director’s cut of “Kafka,” has finished the mixed-martial-arts thriller “Knockout” and — in his spare time — is still prepping for his long-awaited 3D “Cleopatra” rock musical.
This is complete lunacy — when you’re working so fast you can afford to make movies people may not ever actually see, you’re working at a level most people have never heard of, let alone achieved. But what’s really impressive about Soderbergh is how spread out over the distribution landscape his work ranges, from the widely available and cable-ubiquitous to work that takes real cunning and patience to get your hands on.
To see “And Everything Is Going Fine” (at least until someone decides a 90-minute video montage of Spalding Gray talking is commercially viable — IMDb has it slated to be released direct-to-DVD by Magnolia in 2011) requires proximity to a festival and patience. Being a Soderbergh completist might not actually be possible. You’d need to track down the two TV episodes of mid-’90s Showtime series “Fallen Angels” he directed, take in his TV show “K Street” and find down his 1987 short film “Winston,” not to mention his concert movie 1985 “Yes: 9012 Live.”
You could make an analogy between Soderbergh and Yes, a band that has produced approximately 20 million notes in its career in the name of very technical (read: long-winded) goals, collating all of which would basically be a task for a panel the size of the Warren Commission. But I’d rather compare him to a band like The Smiths that would throw away many of their best songs on B-sides and making finding them part of the challenge. Lots of people like to talk these days about telling a story in multiple formats and making viewing more interactive, but the very process of watching Soderbergh’s work is more than enough interactivity to go around.
Here’s the intro to “Yes: 9021 Live.” It’s weirder than you’d expect:
[Photos: “And Everything Is Going Fine,” Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2011; “Yes: 9021 Live,” Image Entertainment, 1985]