The last four years have been the worst “retirement” for Steven Soderbergh, the idiosyncratic genius behind too many great films (and just as many weird, experimental films) to count. In those four years, after he announced his retirement from filmmaking on the heels of Side Effects, Soderbergh directed every episode of his turn-of-the-century hospital drama The Knick – arguably the best cable series to never get its full due – and the terrific HBO Liberace film Behind the Candelabra. He also produced a half dozen projects, one of which was Magic Mike XXL, which he served as cinematographer (under the common pseudonym Peter Andrews).
Point being, Steven Soderbergh never really retired, and we should all be happy that he’s “officially” backed off that sentiment with this weekend’s Logan Lucky. The notoriously rebellious filmmaker has built a decades-spanning career making whatever sort of film tickled his fancy at any given time, and some of them (Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven) were huge hits. But he’s never been keen on the typical hardline marketing techniques of Hollywood, which is why so many of his films come and go without much time to consider their greatness.
Of all the masters in the industry, Steven Soderbergh has the most substantial catalogue of underrated greatness. Here are the five I feel are sorely in need of a revival among the collective masses…
Much like Out of Sight, Steven Soderbergh’s stunt-casted action thriller has since found an audience since 2011. When it was released that January, it was met with a resounding shrug from the masses and quickly brushed aside. Oh, how audiences sometimes ignore greatness right in front of their faces.
Gina Carano stepped out of the MMA octagon to play Mallory Kane, a black ops soldier who is double crossed and seeks revenge. The plot is simple, straightforward, and Soderbergh mirrors the simplicity of the story with an often stationary camera, especially during the fight scenes. It’s refreshing to see Carano’s character beat the shit out of Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, and Ewan McGregor, and actually be able to see what’s happening and where. There is a true sense of spatial geography. Carano’s voice may have been dubbed to make it lower (with the voice of sex, lies and videotape star Laura San Giacomo, no less), but it doesn’t matter in the end. Dialogue takes a backseat to the slick production and thrilling action moments that rely on the physicality of the stars, not an incessantly shaky camera.