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Steven Soderbergh

Steven Soderbergh's feature films present a diverse range of subject matter and formal styles: from the self-absorption of his breakthrough hit Sex, Lies, and Videotape to populist social problem films such as Erin Brockovich, and from the modernist discontinuity of Full Frontal and filmed performance art of Gray's Anatomy to a glossy, star-studded action blockbuster such as Ocean's Eleven. Using a combination of realism and expressive stylization of character subjectivity, Soderbergh's films diverge from the contemporary Hollywood mainstream through the statements they offer on issues including political repression, illegal drugs, violence, environmental degradation, the empowering and controlling potential of digital technology, and economic inequality. Arguing that Soderbergh practices an eclectic type of moviemaking indebted both to the European art cinema and the Hollywood genre film, Aaron Baker charts the common thematic and formal patterns present across Soderbergh's oeuvre. Almost every movie centers on an alienated main character, and Soderbergh has repeatedly emphasized place as a major factor in his narratives. Formally, he represents the unconventional thinking of his outsider protagonists through a discontinuous editing style. Including detailed analyses of major films as well as two interviews with the director, this volume illustrates Soderbergh's hybrid flexibility in bringing an independent aesthetic to wide audiences.
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A Hollywood director who blends substance with the mainstream

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments ix the films of steven soderbergh 1 Relational Independence 1 Remade by Steven Soderbergh: The Underneath, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, Solaris 16 Star Actors: Julia Roberts, Michael Douglas, George Clooney 28 Cinema of Outsiders: Alienation and Crime 39 Critical Violence and Out of Sight 42 Words as Weapons: The Limey and Ocean's Eleven 53 Independent Form 60 Experiments in Digital Video: Full Frontal, K Street, Bubble 75 Class Conflict in High Definition: Che and The Girlfriend Experience 86 Music and Authorship in Ocean's Eleven and The Limey 90 interviews with steven soderbergh 97 Filmography 115 Bibliography 123 Index 129

About the Author

Aaron Baker is an associate professor of film and media studies at Arizona State University and the author of Contesting Identities: Sports in American Film.


"A smart, enthusiastic analysis of an artist and his considerable oeuvre. Baker's textual analysis of Soderbergh's films is spot on." Jon Lewis, author of American Film: A History

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