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First Reviews From Soderberg's FULL FRONTAL...

Hey folks, Harry here in Las Vegas!!!! Oh man oh man am I having a great time... cheap liquior, cheap thrills and tons of damn fine fucking movies! Unfortunately this isn't one of them. Instead this was shown in San Francisco, a considerable amount of miles north west of my current locale. I write this from a completely darkened room after sharing just the right amount of those frozen alcoholic slushee type of things. I love the banana and coconut one and the strawberry coconut one and the gooseberry peanut butter one with chocolate chips and lard one... That one was a doozy! Anyways, here's Soderberg's latest, I read the script on this which was just plain bizarre... it is nice to see it hasn't lost its verve and nerve to be radically abby normal. Here's Spider-Man with a look see...

Hi Harry. Spider-man here. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to get you a scoop. Not more than 30 minutes ago, I got out of one the first screenings of the new Steven Soderberg film, Full Frontal.

Saturday afternoon, I was going to see Spider-man for the fourth time at the AMC Van Ness theater in San Francisco. A woman stopped me and asked my age and asked if I wanted to go to a test screening Sunday night. I said sure, what is it? She asked me if I heard of Steven Soderberg and I almost let my excitement get the better of me. I downshifted and calmly said, yes, I did like his films… never letting on about my love of weird stuff like Schizopolis. She gave me a flyer with an 800 number. Of course, there were all kinds of caveats: you must not be a member of the media or an internet correspondent.

The flyer said to arrive no later than 6:45pm. I got there over an hour early; you know these test screenings go. We got in and saw a reserved section. I immediately went for the seats right behind this section, knowing it was probably reserved for the studio big wigs. The movie was supposed to start at 7:30, but they ran it early. It started rolling just after 7. The moderator gave a short speech and told us we were among the first to see the film.

Then it went dark and a man and a woman jumped into the seats in front of us. Was it HIM? He was wearing a cap and had on glasses… hmm. I’d have to wait for the lights to come up.

Cast included Blair Underwood, Julia Roberts, Enrico Colati (I know I got the spelling wrong; he’s the photographer from Just Shoot Me), Nicky Katt, David Ducovney, Mary McCormick, David Hyde Pierce and Catherine Keener.

Some spoilers to follow…

I can’t really give away any spoilers because there’s not much of a plot to speak of. It’s mostly scenes of relationships tied together by the characters preparing for a birthday party. Most of them are in the “biz.” The film is set in Hollywood and takes place during the making of a movie.

There’s a great title sequence device with the movie within a movie which hilarious. I’m sure it went over most of the audience’s heads, but the ones who catch will get a big laugh.

The best thing in the film is the stage play, “The Sound and the Fuhrer.” Nicky Katt plays Hitler in the modern world, with a shrink, mobile phone and pager. This bit is inspired hilarity.

Ducovney’s role amounts to a cameo. Brad Pitt also appears as himself in the movie within the movie. WE get a glimpse of Soderberg also, but his face was obscured by a big black box. Not sure if it was done for this screening or for all the prints.

Overall, I recommend it, but it’s not gonna pull big box office and may be a bit too “European” for most tastes. This is Soderberg’s weirdest movie since Schizopolis. Some of the weird voiceover devices, he used in The Limey are in evidence here and sometimes can get a bit too precious. As I wrote on my test card, too self-indulgent.

Some of the audience was invited for a 20-minute focus group with pizza after. I was hoping to get invited, if only to smash the machine.

Thr film was exactly as the director intended… therefore it is brilliant. No audience member or test process should affect the artist’s vision. To Hell with focus groups!!!!

Okay, Harry… getting off my high horse.



BTW, when the lights went up, I checked. IT WAS STEVEN SODERBERG! First I saw his cap, which said Solaris on it. Then he turned around and bolted for the exit. We sat behind the man!!!

Readers Talkback
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  • June 10, 2002, 6:29 a.m. CST


    by GOODIE

    He should stick to making big hollywood movies, i hate all this arty stuff Oceans Eleven beats Sex Lies & Video Tape anyday who cares about his roots as an artist BOCKBUSTERS rule.

  • June 10, 2002, 6:30 a.m. CST

    The worst review ive ever read

    by hiperaktiv

    Umm what the hell was that?

  • June 10, 2002, 6:39 a.m. CST

    "The best thing in the film is the stage play, 'The Sound an

    by Triumph the Dog

    I think we just found a director for the inevitable remake of the producers, what with the success of the broadway play and all...

  • June 10, 2002, 6:53 a.m. CST


    by Splinter

    You come across like a 15 year-old, ranting, twitching moron. Correct me if I'm wrong. Re: Full Frontal, I hope he hasn't gone down the "I'm now an auteur, time to be self-indulgent" route....he did that before with Schizopolis. Which was really, really bad.

  • June 10, 2002, 7:29 a.m. CST

    Reviewing the reviews?

    by Rated-R

    Holy Shit isn't there anything you guys like here? God damn! I understand reviewing a freakin movie and talking shit about it all day but why the hell would you rate and criticize a "REVIEW"? Jesus! Not everybody that sends a review is a professional critic, idiot. Think before you write "The worst review ive ever read". This place is called "Ain't it cool" not "Doesn't it suck". Stop the complaints, you dumb ass geeks!

  • June 10, 2002, 8:25 a.m. CST

    So did Julia Roberts show Full Frontal?

    by Ambient_Noise

    We were told from way back that Julia gets her kit off in this one. So? Does she? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • June 10, 2002, 8:31 a.m. CST

    Full Frontal

    by t-squared

    Why not review reviews? We come to this site looking for news on upcoming films, and all we get from this mediocre site is lame writing and reviews of bad movies with no value like Undercover Brother. Let's up the ante and start expecting more from each other. Can't we all just get along?

  • June 10, 2002, 10:40 a.m. CST

    Soderbergh is the best thing to happen to American "popcorn" mov

    by Osmosis Jones

    Fuck the Academy, Ocean's 11 was last year's most entertaining movie, bar none, and in the last four years, Soderbergh has given us Out Of Sight, The Limey, Erin Brockovich (yes, a critically respectable Julia Roberts flick. Whouda thunk it?) and Traffic. Bring on Full Frontal and Solaris!

  • June 10, 2002, 11:09 a.m. CST

    Stop yer whining Rated-R!

    by rubycon

    We've had this conversation before boys. If you don't like what Harry and AICN has to offer, then don't come here anymore. Stop crapping on peoples reviews of movies and send in your own god damn review. And people who shit on others because they like/don't like a certain movie (undercoverbrother in this case) should be spanked. Klaatu Barada Niktu!

  • June 10, 2002, 11:12 a.m. CST

    Maybe I didn't understood what you wrote

    by rubycon

    I'm sorry Rated-R. I'm really not sure what you wrote. It sounded as a complaint against AICN. I hope it wasn't.

  • June 10, 2002, 12:07 p.m. CST


    by furnace404

    Sex, lies, and videotape, out of sight, traffic, the limey. Nuff said. This will be awesome. 8==========SODERBERG=====D

  • June 10, 2002, 12:28 p.m. CST

    What review?

    by kartaron

    This is the entire review:***It

  • June 10, 2002, 12:30 p.m. CST

    He deserves it

    by Sofa Sogood

    Harry, put down the foo-foo drinks. This is what happens boys and girls. When one becomes successfull at making brillent films, they can shoot anything they want. Steve S. could shoot 3 hours of himself shitting in a box and the studio will give him a green light. Is this America or what. I love it.

  • June 10, 2002, 12:52 p.m. CST


    by EliCash

    Hate to be a nitpicker but there is an h at the end of his last name.

  • June 10, 2002, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Harry, you're a girly drink-drunk

    by Clutchton

    Come on Harry. I'm a huge fan of yours, but those drinks were indefensible. How about a nip of whiskey? Or scotch? Anything else. Seriously.

  • June 10, 2002, 1:13 p.m. CST


    by Hobbitastic

    You're just jealous because you didn't understand Schizopolis. That flick was pure genius.

  • June 10, 2002, 1:39 p.m. CST

    we are all movie geeks - as it should be

    by Bill Harford

    hey - as an avid aicn fan, and movie geek to boot, i just wanted to inform everyone that it doesn't's great that we are debating about ANYTHING - as it is, confrontation and intelligent debate is what makes this the best damn site for film around. i love to read everyone's comments - even if they piss on people. let's really try to get along. whether you love or hate something - don't matter. it's just fantastic to be getting so many mixed responses on ANY post. you all rule for posting! rock on you guys and gals, and long live AICN, harry, and all the rest! by the way, as i am trying to get some other chat going, any movie peeps that want to talk and have more debate BEYOND AICN walls...feel free to e-mail me at i REALLY wanted to talk to y'all. thanks! peace out.

  • June 10, 2002, 1:52 p.m. CST

    well... aicn vs joblo?

    by TarantinoWebsite

    well in my opinion, it's going down with AICN. there isn't as much information than over at darkhorizons and joblo. thats my own personal opinion: i think harry and the guys are getting a little superior and arrogant just because they know lots of people and have watched lots of movies. i think harry and the gang should come down from their high throne and start over again, informing us fellow movie geeks, write proper reviews and stop getting admired for every article they write - informative or not. AICN is too subjective. well that's my opinion. i am missing the "movie news" aspect of AICN. it's gone....

  • You know, just for a little change of pace.

  • Lotsa people I know got bolum heads.

  • June 10, 2002, 5:44 p.m. CST

    Too bad...

    by Cabron

    I was hoping it would be a little more user friendly.

  • June 10, 2002, 6:51 p.m. CST

    Seeing Spiderman, for the FOURTH Time?

    by Aquatarkusman

    Did you miss some subtle nuances the first three times? Jeez Louise, lay off the 48-ounce Green Goblin slurpees at your local 7-11.

  • go harry, get some poon for geeks everywhere

  • June 10, 2002, 7:04 p.m. CST

    Lost me as soon as he said he was seeing Spiderman a fourth time

    by Stifler's Mom

    ...yeah, that's money well spent.

  • June 10, 2002, 7:25 p.m. CST

    Never liked Steve Soderberg's films. Almost.

    by FD Resurrected

    Two things Steve Soderberg and Paul Thomas Anderson have in common: pretentious, intellectual posturing and hackneyed filmmaking. I never liked all of his films except the marginal King of the Hill. Erin Brockovich is one of the worst films I saw in 2000. I concur with Matinee Magazine film critic Chuck Russell's savage trashing of the movie at I was not impressed with Traffic and The Limey for being too pretentious and self-consciously smug to enjoy. Full Frontal sounds like another pretentious attempt at pretentiousness. Why do the studios keep giving this man a job to shit on good scripts to make professional film student movies? He'll fuck up Solaris with more pseudo arty-fartsy profundity for sure.

  • June 10, 2002, 8:21 p.m. CST

    Wasn't this supposed to be a sequel to Sex, Lies?

    by Son Of Batboy

    At least that's what I recall reading about. Looks like that idea went out the window along with the title. Somehow I doubt this movie is aiming for the type of audience that sees Spider-man four times. Not that it has my interest either. As far as test screenings go, there's nothing like a gem of constructive criticism like "too self indulgent." And he liked Schizopolis?

  • June 10, 2002, 8:31 p.m. CST

    Defending myself and my review!

    by spider-man

    Hey! Spider-man is a fun movie! Look at my gd user name: Spider-man. Uh, could it be that I'm a Spidey nut? Moving on... I liked Schizopolis a lot... but did find that self-indulgent as well. There's nothing wrong with a little film diversity. I like it all... mindless action, serious drama. My favorite filmmakers are Scorsese, Egoyan, PT Anderson, Capra, Soderbergh, Raimi and Cameron. Embrace movies... not just "films" my friends!

  • June 10, 2002, 8:49 p.m. CST

    What, spider-man?

    by wasp

    What, no Tarkovsky, spider-man? Tarkovksy...the man who will most likely be spinning in his grave when he sees that his movie Solaris is being remade by Soderbergh with George Clooney starring. It's cliche to call Tarkovsky a film poet, but that's pretty much what he was. Soderbergh, well, I don't know what he is. To my knowledge, he isn't really much of anything. He's not a hack. He's not an everyman's director. If he's an auteur, he isn't much of one. I guess I can't really speak with authority, for I've only seen four Soderbergh movies: The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, and Ocean's 11. Those were all movies that pretended to be good, and a lot of people believed what those movies pretended. I can't speak for Schizopolis or Sex or Out of Sight...I'm sure that they all have their merits. I doubt any of them is on par with Andrei Rublev, though. I kind of get the feeling that Soderbergh has a great movie in him if he would only quit chucking out movies like a pulp fiction writer and actually dedicate a couple years or more to crafting ONE film.

  • June 10, 2002, 10:46 p.m. CST

    "Doesn't compare to Andrei Rubelev."

    by Rain_Dog

    Pretentious? Moi?

  • June 10, 2002, 11:25 p.m. CST

    Fast and cheap is what I like about Soderberg.

    by Christopher3

    Here's a guy who's working steadily and comes out with a decent product that's usually on budget and ahead of schedule. The worst you can say about his failures is that they're self-indulgent. Most directors, when they fail, come out with overpriced, generic garbage that costs some studio hacks their careers. I don't think he's necessarily the right person for a remake of "Solaris," though. Better suited for that project would be Chris Nolan, Michael Mann, Andrew Niccol and Alejandro Amenabar. Those guys know how to sustain a mood.

  • June 11, 2002, 1:37 a.m. CST

    Soderbergh is AWFUL

    by Jack D. Ripper

    His movies never have a heart in them. FD summed it up perfectly in that he always fills his flicks with pseudo-artistic profundity. People think because he's a fan of Godard and because he bangs Jules Asner and can photograph a scene skillfully and his AWFUL AWFUL heartless movies make money that he's some kind of genius. He's not. This man should be in MOVIE JAIL and FORBIDDEN from EVER making ANY movies EVER AGAIN. I've seen half his stuff and it's all cold and heartless, filled with all sorts of pretentious posturing that somehow convinces DUMB PEOPLE that they are watching something that is either Important, Great or Meaningful. How this guy gets critical acclaim baffles me, how his heartless, albeit beautiful-looking, movies MAKE TONS OF CASH is even more baffling. The guy, his stuff DOES pretend that it's good, but it's not. There's no way he even COMES CLOSE to 70s/80s Spielberg. Spielberg had a heart, and more importantly an imagination, he lost his touch somewhere along the way, but he redeemed himself for all the "Hook"s and "Always"s with A.I., one of the most important films of the last five years, and this generation's "Blade Runner." Soderbergh has no imagination, no heart and a small, though cunning mind that is adeptly fools people into thinking trash is art. Eisenstein, Tarkovsky, Scorsese, Coen Bros., Paul Thomas Anderson and Kurosawa and Spike Lee and Michael Mann and Darren Aronofsky and Stanley Kubrick make ART, or, at the very least interesting, thought-provoking INTELLIGENT FILMS. SODERBERGH MAKES SHIT! REVOLT! REBEL! BURN DOWN HIS CASTLE AND THROW HIM INTO THE ARCTIC! NOW!

  • June 11, 2002, 2:27 a.m. CST

    pull the finger out

    by Cysm Ltyh

    oceans 11 was a good character piece - nothing more. self consciously cool and laboured, as a heist flick it had all the BAMN of a soggy condom on a slice of bread. PLEASE let SS return to forging new spaces in film - ie the EXCELLENT schizopolis, sex, lies (of course) and the VERRRRRRRRRRy underrated the limey. full frontal could take his newly aquired box office-sucking drones to new places. do most movie goers (or anyone whose added to this talk back) have those little jolts that make the brain vibrate, like?

  • June 11, 2002, 2:32 a.m. CST


    by Cysm Ltyh

    speil-berg? he blew his imagination with puberty - and what the frig are you on about this 'generations' blade runner? MR's a good flick, arguably, but he lost the chance to say a damn thing when he take to filmmaking in order to neutralise thought and possibility by turning phillip k into his little GI joe. if your gonna go for him, at least go for hook - childhood as fetish and normalisation

  • June 11, 2002, 3:03 a.m. CST

    i loved the limey, but the thing is, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, a

    by a goonie

    otherwise too pointless, too uneducated, or too flat, among many other things, his past three films have been overall failures. full frontal has me interested, but lately i

  • June 11, 2002, 4:38 a.m. CST

    Dear Mr. Harford: Confrontation, definitely, but intelligent deb

    by Almost Sexy

    I don't recall having seen too much of that around here. A lot of ad hominem attacks, but not much in the way of intelligent debate. I think the real reason this site does so well, (and I don't mean this in a mean-spirited way at all, honestly) is the fact that you can say virtually anything you want, no matter how small-minded and vitriolic, and that it has the best "talkback" format for any of the movie sites I've been to, at least. It's just a lot easier to comment on an article here without having to go to some generic forum and try to strike up a conversation. This site is very convenient. I think that's where its real strength lies. I hope I don't come off as sounding bitter. My favorite Soderbergh movie is still Out of Sight, which was a lot of fun. I liked Traffic, but that has to be one of the most un-involving soundtracks of all time. It's almost like the composer was trying to drive people out of the theater. I recently saw the 1944 Gaslight, and Charles Boyer was awesome as "the Italian guy." I think I also fell in love with Dame Mae Whitty at some point during the film, which is actually kinda gross, but she just has the most mellifluous voice. I want to go out and rent all her movies. She was right-on as the titular character in The Lady Vanishes, a film that will make you re-think just exactly how insouciant those crusty brits can be.

  • June 11, 2002, 5:03 a.m. CST

    Best Thing This Site Has Is The Talkbacks and silly reviews

    by Miami'sCanadian

    LOL I love reviews and intros where Harry or someone starts talking about being drunk which has nothing to do with the movie. And its always funny to see the serious people whine about them sticking only to movie reviews, like get a fucking life morons. It speople like that make being on a film set tension filled and boring. I just turned down a gig on X-Men 2 cause I know the long hours and military run presence would have killed me. As for directors, why are they such geeks? The only director who I would wanana be is Micheal Bay, he makes the most entertaining movies, dates playboy models, spends his free time racing ferraris instead of boring shit. And to those who hate Freddy Prinze, well he does suck as an actor and all his movies are weak but how would u feel if someone rated the type of person you are for the work you do. "Oh oh, my Big Mac is burnt. You are a no talent jerk off and I want you to die caus SMG dates you even though you cant cook a burger!!" Someone on her please make a wesbite so all talkabckers can post their pics to see whos cool and whos not.

  • June 11, 2002, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Wait wait this is TOO GOOD! Not only is Spiderman misspelling S

    by Neil MacAuley

    Classic!!! And they wonder why the mainstream media won't shake their hand, slap 'em on the back and welcome them into the fold. Man o manoschevitz.

  • June 11, 2002, 7:01 p.m. CST

    Michael Bay -- Movie Bane

    by wasp

    His name is like the kiss of death to film quality. He must have done some really nasty things in order to make the Criterion edition Armageddon happen.

  • June 11, 2002, 10:27 p.m. CST


    by Darth Pixel

    Have any of you people actually seen the HEADGEEK drunk? I must say, he has one hell of a singing voice... I seen him do the "Copa Cobana" at one of these junkets about 6 months ago! w00t! Harry owns, man! Harry owns! "At The Copa! Copa Cobana!..."

  • June 12, 2002, 2:16 a.m. CST

    Wasp Is A Bane To Cool People

    by Miami'sCanadian

    His movies =entertinment. What do you equal? Oh yah Wasp +jerkign off.

  • June 12, 2002, 7:08 a.m. CST

    Michael Bay's movies are just plain boring

    by mooch

    I get plenty of enjoyment from big dumb entertainment-only movies, but Bay's films are all soul-crushingly boring. Pearl Harbor? Armageddon? Bad Boys? Jesus fucking asshole christ. The Rock was his best one and even that was a long tedious trudge through mediocrity. I don't need every film to be a profound work of art - and cunting god knows Bay's films don't even turn up for the qualifying in that tournament - but you'd hope he'd be capable of at least late-night TV movie quality entertainment. Alas not our "nice" Mr Bay. Armageddon had a couple of funny moments at the start and the rest was a total, headache-inducing slog. Pearl Harbor was another one we knew was not going to be critically-approved, but at least we expected entertainment - then we realise that the pre-attack bit was going to be shit we at least least leasty-least thought the attack sequence would be worth staying awake through: how fucking dull was that? Key-rist. Soderbergh on the other hand consistently turns in enjoyable pictures, even if he seems to rate himself a bit too highly some times. I appreciate his efforts despite feeling the critical praise is overblown. And the guy who praised Bay: you make me laugh so much - "you shouldn't judge people by their work, it should be what they look like"!!!

  • June 12, 2002, 9:10 p.m. CST

    To Mooch....

    by Miami'sCanadian

    You're wrong I dont expect to judge movies by the way people look, I mean I cant expect everyone to look as hot as I am. Women know I'm "The Messiah Of Entertainment."