I’d gone to the cinema yesterday hoping to witness first hand what the fuss surrounding SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was all about. There’s more hyperbole flying about for that picture than there is for Barack Obama.
As usual, I hadn’t checked the schedule beforehand and was early… or late, so rather than wait in the bar for an hour I decided to select an alternative.
Steven Soderbergh is a director who’s generally been under my radar. I recall watching SOLARIS (the only pre CHE Soderbergh film I’ve seen) and hating it! Now I’ll generally try to find at least one redeeming feature about a film but I felt that watching George Clooney in this movie was like being trapped in a very boring washing machine. I’ve now decided to watch the Andrei Tarkovsky version and the Soderbergh version back to back. More on that next week…… If I don’t find myself trapped in suspended animation.
CHE was rather good though.
Walking to the cinema I happened to be listening to the Filmspotting podcast and they were speaking to Soderbergh about this very film that I never knew I was going to see. A couple of things he said struck me as very interesting.
Firstly he spoke of the method, the approach to making the picture. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the iconic standing of the man. One only needs to walk down a street, into a student union or go to any music festival to be faced with countless t-shirts showing his image. The story of Alberto Korda, the man who captured the famous image, is an interesting one. Read a little here.
Anyway, Soderbergh quite rightly decided to discard this almost mythical reverence and concentrate purely on method. He’s interested in showing us how, not why. That, I think, is a brave approach and one which he should be applauded for. The Filmspotting interviewer thought he came out of the film knowing no more about CHE than he did before, which was very little, but with a better understanding of the process surrounding revolution. I’m not sure I agree with him on that. Of course, a bio pic is probably the worst route to gaining an understanding of anyone but I do feel you get an idea of his commitment, his beliefs and his morality, all important facets of a person and they were shown extensively here, albeit through the subjective lens of the filmmaker.
Secondly, on a more technical level, Soderbergh spoke of shooting the entire film on the digital RED ONE camera. This is a smallish unit which records the image onto a flash card which can then be loaded directly into editing software…. I’m sickened to say this but it looked amazing. It’s truly the first digital example that’s made me think twice about my staunch and stubborn love for celluloid or rather rethink my consistent cynicism surrounding digital technology. That’s not to say I’m going to curb my desire to shoot a number of films on film……
If you’ve screwed up the timings of the film you’ve gone to see and find yourself at a loose end, I suggest you check out CHE. Hell, why not check it out intentionally?
Oh, and I also recommend the Filmspotting podcast. Available on itunes or at their website here.