Friday, August 02, 2002

Full Frontal (IMDB) (Netflix)
Steven Soderbergh returns to his low-budget Sex, Lies and Videotape roots with a half-film-half-digital movie-in-a-movie-in-a-movie, give or take a movie. Soderbergh's favorite actress Julia Roberts joins indie film diva Catherine Keener and a cast of other competent B-list actors in one of those multi-storyline hall-of-mirrors Escher drawings that seem to attract directors with pretensions (cf. Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Magnolia, Short Cuts). In the case of Soderbergh, who's made an impressive series of critically and commercially successful films (Out of Sight, The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven), it might be misplaced guilt or just a storytelling Pilates exercise.

Plot outlines would be tedious, but there's a bunch of Hollywood nose-tweaking (and where's the challenge in that?), a lot of self-absorbed behavior, clearly improvised scenes and people testing other people for no damn reason. Give Soderbergh points for continually tackling different film styles, but here the constant internal refrain is "where's this going?" and the answer might be "to video, quickly."