Soderbergh has always been a work-horse (for fuck’s sake, nine of his movies were released from 1997 to 2002), but it’s beginning to feel like he’s just showing off now. It was already a lot when he came out of retirement with two movies released within half a year of each other. But now his plate is filled with at least three different projects, at least two of which sound quite ambitious in scope. Obviously, I love it, but Steven, buddy, do we need to talk? Are you getting enough sleep?
His first project on the docket is High Flying Bird, which I wrote about when it was announced just prior to Unsane‘s premiere. Its schedule is also a bit unsane, as it was shot in two weeks and Soderbergh had a first cut ready within two and a half hours of the shoot wrapping. That Soderbergh always edits his footage the day it’s shot still makes this barely more comprehensible as anything besides an act of literal magic. As for other details about it, in addition to the previously-known info of it being about an NBA lockout, being written by Tarell Alvin McCraney (who wrote Moonlight‘s source material), and starring Andre Holland (who low-key gave one of Moonlight‘s best performances), it also stars Atlanta‘s Zazie Beetz (Soderbergh is a big Atlanta fan on Twitter) and Kyle MacLachlan (Soderbergh was also a big Twin Peaks fan on Twitter). And it’s Soderbergh’s second iPhone-shot film, although unlike Unsane, here he’s going the Sean Baker route and shooting anamorphic on the iPhone. It is now almost completed, but likely won’t come out until at least the fall festivals.
That’s definitely not all Soderbergh has going on in the fall, though. That’s also when he will finally shoot his film about the Panama Papers, which he’s been circling since before Logan Lucky came out. Now called The Laundromat, it is a Scott Z. Burns-scripted film that spans six countries as it traces the effects of the leaking of the Papers, with no time spent on the journalists who broke the story (Soderbergh’s only guideline for Burns was that he didn’t want it to be a journalism movie). The Playlist promises “a powerhouse cast waiting in the wings”, and they’re also saying that, due to the expansiveness and likely higher budget of the film, Soderbergh will return to using good old fashioned RED cameras for it. I guess that makes another promise Soderbergh has so abruptly turned his back on (in this case his stated goal to use the iPhone for all of his future projects), but I’ve learned to not really give a shit when he gets declarative.
That would be enough for most directors, but most directors have not dabbled in smartphone-shot cinema, so. Anyway, Soderbergh’s other other project sees him reuniting with longtime frenemy Lem Dobbs, and also going back to TV (of course, don’t call it a comeback and all that, as Mosaic was a mere three months ago). They are working together on a six-part miniseries about the life of Emin Pasha, a 19th-century adventurer who lived many lives, with Playlist calling him “[a] German Jewish physician, naturalist, linguist, African explorer and colonial governor of Equatoria” (I dunno if he was also a nuclear physicist, but I’m sure that above all, he was a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man like yourself). The project is said to be “probably far off” and doesn’t yet have a network attached, but I cannot wait for Soderbergh to get his Lost City of Z on.
And that’s not all! Soderbergh is now becoming even more prolific as a producer than as a director, getting back to the sheer quantity of his days at Section Eight. Obviously, he has Ocean’s Eight coming up, and he’s also producing Scott Z. Burns’ recently-announced directorial effort The Torture Report, about the rise of torture by the CIA in the wake of 9/11. That film stars Adam Driver, Jon Hamm, Ted Levine, and Annette Bening (who should really work on a mainline Soderbergh feature sometime soon, if only to get out of her non-20th Century Women rut of being the best part of instantly forgotten mediocrities). He’ll also be producing a film scripted by Mosaic writer Ed Solomon… Bill & Ted 3. Whoa, indeed.
And then there’s Planet Kill. Very little is known about it besides it coming from an original idea by Burns and Unsane‘s James Greer, and that it’s apparently a batshit-crazy sci-fi epic. Soderbergh was first announced to be producing it with an eye towards directing, but Playlist sez that he has now decided not to direct it and only stay on as a producer. I suppose that it’s comforting to know that there’s one project out there that he’s not making.
So there you have it, there’s Steven Soderbergh’s roster for this year, at least until he decides to shoot three other movies during post-production of The Laundromat. I look forward to the casting announcement for The Laundromat, and all subsequent steps towards the goal of making every good actor alive work with Soderbergh.