Sex, Lies and Celluloid; Matthew Sweet Looks beyond the In-Jokes That Litter Stephen Soderbergh's New Film, to Find the Point of the Movie

Article excerpt

Byline: MATTHEW SWEET

FULL FRONTAL (RATING - ADEQUATE)

Cert 18, 101 mins

FOR the past five years, Stephen Soderbergh has been bashing out pictures at a furious speed. And despite his amazing hit-rate - Out of Sight, Erin Brokovich, The Limey, Traffic, Solaris - there's a smell of panic about this productivity, as if he were afraid that his abilities were about to desert him. He is like a bodybuilder who keeps pumping away, for fear that his muscles will atrophy.

In Full Frontal, he has produced a work that, though interesting for anyone who is interested in Stephen Soderbergh, will, for everyone else, seem little more than a margin note.

This is a movie about Hollywood, and many of its gags are purely for the initiated.

Soderbergh has a brief cameo as a hotel guest, whom we clock crawling across the corridor carpet in his vest and undies. Terence Stamp, in character as the antihero of The Limey, moves gruffly through the background of two scenes.

Harvey Weinstein, the head of Miramax pictures, cameos as himself: a great depilated walrus glugging from a can of Diet Coke.

David Fincher, director of Se7en, pops up as the auteur behind a crummy action flick. The casting of David Duchovny and Jonathan Hyde Pierce in pivotal roles is another in-joke: both were unsuccessful applicants for roles in Soderbergh's Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

The best way to summarise the film is to describe the characters.

Carl (Hyde Pierce) is a Mr Cellophane who has written a screenplay entitled Rendezvous. His wife, Lee (Catherine Keener), is an HR manager who humiliates her interviewees by making them stand on a chair and juggle with an inflatable globe.

Her sister, Linda (Mary McCormack), is a masseuse who has agreed to meet her internet date in a Holiday Inn in Tuscon. …