Media log, March 12, 2013

1. Side Effects, by Steven Soderbergh.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll note that one of my contact lenses fell out in the middle of the movie, so I watched from just before the, uh, second episode of sleepwalking all the way through the end with just one working eye. Is it weird that, under those circumstances, the second half of the movie didn’t look any different than the first? All the way through, I thought about how these are the last big screen images Soderbergh will allegedly make before becoming a painter. In art school, I was friends with a guy who set up all these systems and used non-traditional materials in order to remove any trace of his own hand, both in the sense of obscuring/eliminating any tell-tale brushstrokes, and in the sense that he wanted to be able to make paintings without consciously making decisions that could be identified as “his” — he wanted to violate the notion that a painting is a projection of the painter’s psyche onto canvas. What kind of paintings will Soderbergh make? Interviewed by New York Magazine, he showed the journalist a portrait and a color field canvas, talked about making collages and imitating Lucien Freud. “It’s very basic right now,” he admitted. “Can I make things look the way I want them to look? That’s where I’m at right now.” In the last phase of his film career, he’s made his least “painterly” films in terms of sheer traditional  aesthetic pleasure, and done so with an unusual level of autonomy — shooting, directing, editing himself, like one might on a much lower budgetary level, in the art world, or in school — while at the same time apparently looking to flatten traces of his own “hand.” But you never get the sense that this is not the way he wants them to look.)

2. Grantland Hollywood Perspectus podcast

3. Fresh Air interview with Mike Piazza, podcast

4. Game Over: Press Start to Continue — The Maturing of Mario by David Sheff. E-Book, skimmed

5. World Baseball Classic, USA vs. Puerto Rico, innings 1-3, live on MLB Network

6. Two episodes of Chopped, live on Food Network