Friday, July 25, 2008

Non-Oprah Book Club: Getting Away With It

Steven Soderbergh is a pretty funny guy. He doesn't take himself too seriously, which is always a great quality in a narrator - and it's what saves his (sort-of) memoir, Getting Away With It, or The Further Adventures of the Luckiest Bastard You Ever Saw, from being an incredible depressing tale of Hollywood misery. For those who are unfamiliar with Soderbergh, he's a film director who made Out of Sight, Ocean's Eleven and Traffic, for which he won the Best Director Oscar. His first film, Sex, Lies and Videotape, was a giant milestone in independent cinema. It won the Audience Award at a little thing called the US Film Festival, which would later change its name to the Sundance Film Festival; as well as winning the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. But his career hit a low while he was making his fourth film, The Underneath. Feeling like a loser after making three films in a row that failed to live up to his talent and promise, he decided to make a movie for himself called Schizopolis. He wrote, directed, produced, photographed, scored... well, did just about everything on the movie. If you've never seen it - and you're open to (and really enjoy) fucked up movies - stop whatever you're doing and go rent it, buy it, whatever. To give you an idea of how off the wall the movie is, Entertainment Weekly gave the movie an A, but also gave it an F.

Getting Away With It chronicles Soderbergh's time between The Underneath until he found his stride again with his adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Out of Sight. Along with writing about his troubles, Soderbergh spends half of the book talking with one of his filmmaking heroes, Richard Lester. Lester is promoted on the cover of the book as "the man who knew more than he was asked." It's a sort of smart ass take on Truffaut's series of interviews with Hitchcock.

This is a great book for anyone interested in filmmaking.

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