Steven Soderbergh is one of the few directors who have successfully managed to maintain lucrative careers in both independent and commercial cinema. While the Ocean's films progressively worsen, I don't begrudge Soderbergh his mainstream excursions so long as they continue to finance highly personal experimental works.
1. 'The Limey'
It would help if you had a screening of John Boorman's Point Blank under your belt before tackling this tale of an obsessive Brit who travels to L. A. in search of his daughter's killer. Terence Stamp seemed absent from cinema for so long that this marked a triumphant return for a vastly underrated actor.
Prof. Soderbergh gives Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" program a failing grade. The director also succeeds in transforming Steve Gaghan's mechanical screenplay into a sprawling, rapidly paced multi-character, multi-location coherent drug thriller. Instead of just shaking a finger, this stands alongside Drugstore Cowboy as one of a handful of anti-drug films to explore the reasons behind people's need to get high.
Author A.E. Hotchner's upbringing in 1933 St. Louis is vividly (and intelligently) recreated in this wonderful tale of a young boy’s struggle to survive the Depression. With his mother institutionalized and dad a traveling salesman, our hero is forced to look after himself in a rundown hotel. This is the type of coming of age film that doesn’t give the genre a bad name. Look for early performances by Adrien Brody and Katherine Heigl.
Audiences that only know the director from his Ocean's pictures had best steer clear. Soderbergh stars in and directs his most experimental film to date, a surrealistic look into profit-based self-help corporations (read: Scientology). An amusing, unpredictable romp that is as wholly original as they get.
A Yuppie lawyer carries on an affair with his sexually repressed wife's sister while his former frat buddy gets off on videotaping women describing their sex lives. This heralded a major advancement for the indie film movement and remains a stylish character comedy until a cop-out ending mars the proceedings.