Saturday, March 10, 2007


As underwhelmed as I was by Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble," it sure has stayed with me. Shot entirely on Sony digital cameras, and using no professional actors, it's yet another experimental film by the director of such wonderful gems like "Traffic," "Out Of Sight" and 1989's "Sex, Lies, and Videotape." Maybe I'm being overly critical here, but I went in expecting it to be proof that an aspiring film maker doesn't need a ton of money to make a good movie. What I got instead was proof that an aspiring film maker doesn't need a ton of money to make a boring, uninteresting movie.

The more I read others' positive reviews, the more I see their points behind their accolades. Soderbergh paints a perfect picture of three hopeless residents in a small factory town. Lives filled with cheap, plastic drudgery who never even bother to show even the obvious emotion of despair - what good would that do anyway? - they take their places in life seemingly at peace with their pawn-like existences. Just as I was giving up on the story revealing any arc at all, jealousy and violence creep up to give the film just enough of a jolt of energy to hold me to the end credits. (Well, imagine a Vespa trying to jump start a Hummer, but a jolt nonetheless.)

For me, the movie as a vehicle for a story with rich and interesting characters was a disappointing flop. But maybe it'll be an important footnote in the history of cinema. Those who really pay attention to things like picture quality love what Steven Soderbergh was able to do with digital cameras. Film critic David Denby of The New Yorker speaks of the amazing depth of field in the picture. For only a million dollar budget, a lot was accomplished - and there will be five more low budget features to come in Soderbergh's deal with Mark Cuban's HD Net.

"Bubble" was not without its interesting moments, but still, it's the first 73 minute movie I've seen where I thought a good editor should have cut it down by a good 20 minutes or so. But then as I said, it's really staying with me. Maybe it's a much better picture than I thought.

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