Due to unprecedented demand, Steven Soderbergh has given The San Francisco Film Society permission to release this video that was recorded initially only for archival purposes. The full transcript is also provided. —Steven Soderbergh: The State of Cinema Video & Transcript
“Cinema is under assault,” Steven Soderbergh told an audience in San Francisco over the weekend. He said that the Hollywood studios are to blame and that moviegoers are their accomplices. “Fewer and fewer executives in the industry love movies,” Soderbergh continued, “There’s a total lack of leadership in my opinion, that’s what’s killing cinema.” The director’s remarks came at the San Francisco International Film Festival’s annual State of Cinema Address. It was a sort of Jerry Maguire memo, “Cinema is a specificity of vision. It’s as unique as a fingerprint. If it’s done well, you know exactly who made it,” Steven Soderbergh defined on Saturday, “Is there a difference between cinema and movies? If I ran team America, I’d say fuck ya. Cinema is something that is made, movies are seen.”
Soderbergh said that he needed $5 million to make his upcoming Liberace movie, Behind the Candelabra, which stars Michael Douglas as the famous piano player and Matt Damon as the musician’s lover. Yet he said that the studios needed the movie to gross $70 million to make it work financially. “No one has figured out how to lower the costs of marketing movies…no one,” Soderbergh said. “The thing that mystifies me is in terms of spending, is there anyone in the galaxy that doesn’t know Iron Man 2 is opening that weekend!?” He continued, ”Studios only gamble on openings instead of supporting filmmakers over the long haul. In my opinion, it’s about horses - not races.”
“Executives don’t get punished for making bombs the way filmmakers do,” Soderbergh charged, “So there’s no turnover with people who don’t know their own business.” “I’m spending so much time talking business and sexy math because this is what’s driving everything right now,” Soderbergh said. Yet he also sounded a few optimistic notes. So what would he do differently? “If I were running a studio, I’d get a Shane Carruth, a Barry Jenkins and an Amy Seimetz and ask ‘What do you wanna make?’” Soderbergh said, “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect someone running a multi-billion dollar business to be able to identify talent. I’m wrong a lot, it doesn’t even raise my blood pressure anymore, maybe the audiences are happy, the studios are happy – maybe I’m wrong. Maybe everything is just fine,” Soderbergh said at one point near the end of his speech. The room erupted with some chuckles because clearly those in the audience agreed with him that everything isn’t just fine. —The World According to Steven: Insights from Soderbergh
TELL YOUR SHOP TO RESERVE YOUR COPY • PREORDERING KEEPS CREATOR-OWNED BOOKS ALIVE
This July, acclaimed comic book creators Matt Fraction (Hawkeye,Casanova, Iron Man) and Howard Chaykin (BLACK KISS, AMERICAN FLAGG) will take readers back to the Golden Age of Television, a time when innocence was as manufactured a fiction as the perfect families in the comedies that captivated audiences at home. Their new Image Comics series SATELLITE SAM, debuting in July, takes a look at the darkness behind the small screen when, in 1951, Carlyle Bishop, the star of the beloved serial “Satellite Sam” turns up dead in a filthy flophouse.
Carlyle’s son Michael has a hunch that his father’s death was anything but natural, but the only clue is a box full of photographs of women in various states of undress — and Mike can’t bring himself to stay sober long enough to make any sense of it.
For Fraction and Chaykin, SATELLITE SAM is a chance to tell a murder mystery while simultaneously divesting the 1950s of its mantle of moral purity.
“It’s a detective story, a history of television, and a record of addiction, sex, and depravity during a time when the antiseptic shine off Ozzie and Harriet obscure what was really happening in the world,” said writer Fraction. “And these are just a few of the many joys that come from telling a story about television while it was being invented as a mass medium in New York City.”
The creative team researched television’s early days in preparation for the series, getting a feel for the era and for the people who lived real lives while inventing an idealized — and fictionalized — image of families and relationships.
“We’d been talking about SATELLITE SAM for a while, but what really got it going was a long Winter’s day Matt and I spent wandering New York, feeling the city’s ghosts, its lost and found architecture, ending up at the Paley Center, where we watched kinescopes of long dead men and women, acting out children’s fantasies, while living complex lives off-camera,” said Chaykin. “To say that I’m both having the time of my life collaborating on this project, and getting my ass kicked in the process, is to grossly understate the case.”
SATELLITE SAM is an ongoing black-and-white series. Its first issue can be pre-ordered now from the May issue of Previews and will be in stores on July 3.
Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, director of the wonderful Japenese horror film HOUSE (or HAUSU if you don’t want to translate), directed an adaptation of Kazuo Umezu’s brilliant manga THE DRIFTING CLASSROOM. Sounds like you’d get a great, surreal horror film, yes? Great, no. Surreal, yes. But for all the wrong reasons.
I love that Cinefamily was able to bring Ôbayashi to our shores and put on a retrospective of his films. Alas, this one has few of the touches that made HOUSE so wonderful. Instead of visual brilliance you have some of the most awkward casting and acting choices put on film. You can see a lot of them in the video above. The Japanese isn’t translated in this clip, but most of the film is in English.
I usually think comparing a film to its source material is a mug’s game, but in this case it doing so help put it in perspective how bizarre this film is. Umezu created a dark, paranoid story that took what was proposed in Lord of the Flies and put it in overdrive. I suppose whomever greenlighted this film thought that since the story was about children it should be FOR children. We get the tale of an international school, with Troy Donahue as the main teacher. I think it may be a performing arts school because, let me tell you, these kids love doing impromptu musical numbers. If being sent into a post-apocalyptic future gets you down, these kids have a mash-up of “Swanee River,” “Camptown Races,” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” that’ll cheer you right up.
The cheery nature of the film, right down to a lovable grandmother-type, is at odds with the basic plot points of the manga the film still adheres to. These kids are lost in a strange world. Their parents will never see them again. Supplies are running low. Oh, and there are giant bugs out to get them! These story points are caught between a very strange take on human behavior. For example, the students and teachers discover they’ve been caught in a timeslip when the groundskeeper finds the petrified bones of his dog. The poor dude is crying over his dog, but everyone else just takes it in strides and smiles. No wonder this groundskeeper later went nuts and set people on fire. When he was mourning his dog, everyone around him was laughing at the very concept of time and space being rearranged.
Ôbayashi’s visual brilliance does appear during the timeslip scene, including a flat-out awesome bit where a kid ages rapidly in a few seconds (you can see it in the clip above, near the end). But those are few and far between. Most of the time is spent with a school that already feels like it was outside of time and space before the timeslip hit them.
Cinefamily’s own trailer for the film (http://vimeo.com/64345732) makes it look more fun than it is. If you’re a fan of the manga, it’s worth checking out as a strange curiosity, although I recommend a few drinks before and during to help you get through it.