Last time I checked up on probable owner of an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” coffee mug, Steven Soderbergh (not counting my bravura recounting of his commentary for Suture, which no one read because I posted it on possibly the busiest day of this site’s existence), he was waist-deep in post-production on one movie, knee-deep in pre-production on another movie, and getting his toes in the water with yet another movie. So, he’s back to his pre-retirement habits of shooting first and maybe asking questions while making the next movie. But rather amazingly, he found the time to have a 50-minute Q&A (sponsored by Singani 63, of course) accompanying a screening of his 2011 film Haywire at The Nitehawk in Williamsburg. Sadly, the audio of that discussion is not available, but some highlights were written about by The Playlist, effectively giving me enough to write an article about.
Since the chat was ostensibly about Haywire, we might as well begin with the parts that actually relate to Haywire. For one, the film was born out of the cancellation of Soderbergh’s version of Moneyball, leaving him to make a whole other movie to
save the rec center keep the crew members of that film employed for the time being. He also talked about how he’s tried to follow-up Haywire, whether with a sequel or a spin-off TV show. Sadly, those are the only projects that Soderbergh *won’t* be making this year, as both tries were unsuccessful. And we also won’t be seeing Soderbergh’s take on James Bond anytime soon, as he also reveals in the conversation that he was approached twice to make a Bond movie, and ended up making Haywire as sort of a look at what a Soderbergh-directed Bond movie could be. Ah well, at least we got a great meat-and-potatoes action movie out of this whole thing.
Perhaps the most important part of the chat came when Soderbergh talked a bit about the future of The Knick. The second season ended on several superbly depressing notes, one of which seemed to indicate that Soderbergh and Co. may not be particularly interested in returning for more. And yet, they very much are, as has been established before. If Soderbergh’s sudden uber-prolificness seemed to call doubt on him being able to craft another season of television, well, he clearly doesn’t think it will be much of a challenge. In the chat, the subject eventually changed to The Knick, and Soderbergh had this to say.
“We had a six year plan when we started ‘The Knick,’ and supposedly we’re going to pick up next fall [with] season three. We had it all mapped out. Every two years we kind of blow up the universe and start over again. I want to do it, so hopefully it’s going to get done”
This basically just confirms what we heard before about the show’s future plans, but it does make it seem like Cinemax, if they haven’t directly given Soderbergh the green light yet, will allow the show to live on, and that Soderbergh will be ready to go whenever the writers are.
But the most important piece of news from this chat was yet more insight on the long-gestating director’s cut of Kafka, or as it might as well be called at this point, Kafka Nukem Forever. Soderbergh spent some time reiterating that his problems with Kafka are largely with its tonal inconsistencies and once again going over some of his additions to the film (insert shots for the cut were shot while Soderbergh made Side Effects, the film will be dubbed into German, which Soderbergh jokes will require audiences to “understand German”). However, the most interesting Kafka-related detail is Soderbergh’s description of the cut as a whole.
“I’m calling it the ‘Midnight Edition. It’s very weird. I didn’t solve any of the problems, I’ve just mitigated them by making it so weird. You’re so distracted by the weirdness that you don’t notice what doesn’t make any sense.”
Personally, a substantially weirder version of Kafka, a movie which already features giant eyeballs, a murderous laughing leper, oddball comedy involving typewriters, and the Yellow Brick Road reimagined as filing cabinets, sounds pretty goddamn awesome to me, even if the tone is still off (and I didn’t really have a problem with the tone of the original cut, incidentally). Now hopefully Lem Dobbs will be even angrier over this version and have to duke it out with Soderbergh once more in response. Criterion, get these men in your recording booth as soon as humanly possible.