By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood January 22, 2009 at 2:28AM
Steven Soderbergh has always been a supporter of innovation, experimentation and new media. Che goes out on VOD Wednesday while its special roadshow engagement continues, and Soderbergh's 2005 Bubble was the first day-and-date experiment for Marc Cuban and Todd Wagner's 2929 Entertainment and Magnolia Pictures. (Magnolia will release Sundance pickup Humpday on VOD BEFORE it hits theaters.) While Soderbergh knows how to keep costs down on his low-budget experiments (he shot this one in 16 days for $1.7 million), he also knows that if people don't know about a movie, they won't come.
So he adopted the old-fashioned build-buzz-at-Sundance approach and unveiled on Tuesday night, as a Special Sneak, The Girlfriend Experience, a 4K digital "work-in-progress" shot with his favorite Red camera. The reaction at the Eccles seemed reasonably warm (here's Karina Longworth at Spoutblog) and polite. The movie boasts a fragmented narrative (by Oceans 13 writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien) which Soderbergh used to try and pump up the flatness that often comes with limited camera set-ups, natural light (all but two shots) and non-pro actors. Porn star Sasha Grey is the only "pro" in the film. She seems comfortable with her lithe body as she plays a hooker who falls for a client. But she's pretty flat too. Soderbergh's manager Michael Sugar is in the film, and ex-Premiere critic Glenn Kenny (who tells all at his Somecamerunning blog) is one of the liveliest performers in the picture, playing a sex critic, basically. But the movie is sleekly shot and I look forward to seeing its final form.
[Photo of Steven Soderbergh by Jeffrey Wells]
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]