For today's Director Essentials entry, we look at the amazingly prolific and varied career of Steven Soderbergh, aka Peter Andrews, aka Mr. Jules Asner.
This Director Essentials suggestion comes from Gabriel Girard, via the F This Movie! Facebook page. As always, you can nominate directors you'd like to see covered on our Facebook page or in the comments below.
2. Schizopolis (1996) - This is the work of a filmmaker convinced he's never going to work again, at once artistic triumph and commercial self-sabotage. It can be tough to watch at times (it's really out there), but it's insanely personal (Soderbergh casts both himself and his wife, though they were going through a divorce). This is the kind of movie that Soderbergh would probably still be making -- assuming he was still making movies -- had Out of Sight never happened.
4. The Limey (1999) - This is basically Soderbergh doing Point Blank, of which he is a big fan (if you haven't already listened to his commentary with John Boorman on the DVD of that movie, you owe it to yourself to do so). It's a lean and mean movie -- all stripped-down and cockney tough -- and it's a great example of how a director can shape a terrific movie where one may not have been in the screenplay (if you haven't already listened to Soderbergh defending his choices to cranky screenwriter Lem Dobbs on the DVD of this movie, you owe it to yourself to do so).
6. Ocean's Eleven (2001) - Soderbergh's most entertaining movie by a longshot. You show me someone who hates Ocean's Eleven and I'll show you someone who hates movies. "Cool" is a hard thing to pull off without feeling faked, but this movie does just that. I'd like to say that Ocean's Eleven is irrefutable evidence that Soderbergh should be tackling mainstream Hollywood fare more often, but the two sequels might suggest otherwise.
8. The Informant! (2009) - Soderbergh finally made a movie that worked both as "one for me" and "one for them." Like Erin Brockovich, The Informant! feels directly out of the '70s. It's got a fascinating (true?) story, a terrific Matt Damon performance, great photography, a bouncy musical score and a cast of mostly comedians and comic actors -- an unconventional mix that works. In a body of work filled with underrated movies, The Informant! is one of Soderbergh's most underrated.