I was searching through my Netflix list and I just couldn’t find anything on streaming that I could get excited about, so you might have to stream tonight’s film through another service. Tonight’s film is one that launched American independent film into the mainstream and achieved enormous success, not to mention introducing one of the most prominent and innovative directors of our time.
sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
sex, lies, and videotape was directed by Steven Soderberg who would go on to direct many critically acclaimed independent and Hollywood films such as Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven, Contagion, and Magic Mike, just to name a few. Search his name on IMDb, and I bet you have seen at least three of his films, and enjoyed them. The less you know about this film going in, the better your viewing experience will be. What you need to know is that Ann is married to John and they are having some marital troubles that will be revealed during the first act of the film. John’s old college roommate Graham arrives and, through his actions, forces each of them to reevaluate their current relationships.
What makes the film so compelling is watching these characters come face to face with their own flaws and realize that they are not only lying to each other, but also lying to themselves. My favorite part of the film is Soderbergh’s long takes that he utilizes throughout the film. There are scenes when characters are disclosing some deep emotional experiences about themselves and the camera doesn’t cut, it only remains fixated on its subject, enhancing your connection to the character and their central conflicts. Ann is incredibly traditional and passive aggressive, but can she learn to become more than an obedient housewife? John is very successful and has let this success swell his pride and relax his conscience, but can he do the right thing again? Graham is very open and forward about himself, leaving almost nothing a secret, but is being open the same thing as being honest? These are the issues that sex, lies, and videotape brought to major audiences who first discovered it in 1989, and to people who are still discovering it today.
The only thing that seems dated in this film is the technology, which is to say that the film holds up very well 25 years after its original release. Its themes and characters still have relevance today, and still have the same emotional impact that it did before. After this film hit the scene, there was a major interest in American independent cinema, that one can argue led to the success of other “indies” of the 90’s including Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Kids, and countless others. sex, lies, and videotape is a classic that will find new audiences and admirers for many generations to come, and now it’s your turn. Watch this movie.
I am torn on what to feature in this article next week, so I’ll leave it up to you. Go to our Facebook page and I’ll have a few ideas for you all to choose from.
Until next time…