Gray’s Anatomy

Soderbergh Schizopolis

In contrast to other well-respected filmmakers whose revisited obsessions traverse and develop across a litany of discrete works, Steven Soderbergh has most often been described as a expressive and ever-experimenting formalist, a master technician, a “process-rather-than-results person,” but never an auteur. But with Soderbergh’s immanent retirement on the horizon (his last theatrical film, Side Effects, will be released Friday, followed by his HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra), there seems to be a sense of urgency in attempting to make sense of a talented filmmaker who’s worked within and without the studio system, through various genres, and with budgets ranging from giant to shoestring. While Soderbergh is rather open about his process, what compels him to tackle certain subjects, and how they’re tied together, may remain a mystery – if, in fact, there’s any logic informing his choices at all beyond stylistic exercise and an addiction to workahol. But when examining the five (or, arguably, six) films of his that have been released through The Criterion Collection, an interesting pattern emerges – perhaps not one that encompasses all his works, but one that certainly applies to several films outside the small percentage of the prolific filmmaker’s career represented here.

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Anyone who follows the Criterion Collection will note that just about every month of releases is exciting for collectors of classic and important cinema. But some months are just a little bit more special than others. This coming June is going to be even more special. With titles from Alfred Hitchcock, Toshiro Mifune, Charlie Chaplin, Steven Soderbergh (on Spalding Gray) and Danny Boyle, Criterion may have on their hands one of the most exciting months of releases in years. You might as well start saving now. Seriously, just check out the line-up after the jump.

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Spalding Gray

It’s rare when documenting a famous subject who is no longer alive to speak about himself that one encounters a subject who said as much about his own life as Spalding Gray. Steven Soderbergh, who documented Gray’s last filmed monologue with 1996’s Gray’s Anatomy, thankfully chose the most natural and obvious approach that one should when making a retrospective doc on Gray by constructing it solely through juxtaposed snippets of the entertaining, insightful monologues that made him famous.

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