Steven Soderbergh is, without a doubt, one of America's most fascinating working directors. Ever since he made an international splash with his independent breakout sex, lies, and videotape (which took home prizes at Sundance, as well as the Palme d'Or at Cannes, in 1989), he's made an impressive and impressively diverse body of work ranging from the bizarre (Schizopolis) to the sexy (Out of Sight), to say nothing of Traffic (for which he won a directing Oscar) and Erin Brockovich. In the past decade, he's taken on high-profile commercial films (the Ocean's 11 films, The Informant!) to help finance more personal, independent projects (Bubble, The Girlfriend Experience, the two-part Che). Now, after announcing his retirement from filmmaking (after he finishes his Liberace biopic and Channing Tatum-starring male-stripper movie), the trailers for his next two films have been released. Check them out below.
Contagion (in theaters 9/9/11)
The first one up is Contagion, which looks like a throwback to the celeb-heavy disaster pics of the 1970s like Airport, The Towering Inferno, and Earthquake. But just take a look at the talent: Jude Law, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Gwyneth Paltrow and TEJ favorite Marion Cotillard all star in the film, which should lend it some real dramatic heft. I'm also pretty amazed that the trailer spoils the fact that a major character dies; it appears that nobody, however famous, is safe this time around. What's really going to make or break this film is Scott Z. Burns' script: will it present global destruction via virus in an exciting, terrifying new way or will it follow the cliche handbook? Time will tell if it lives up to it's promise, but in Soderbergh's hands, I doubt we need to worry too much.
Haywire (in theaters 1/20/12)
Haywire, like Contagion, looks to be an exercise in genre filmmaking, specifically the spy thriller. The narration in the trailer gives it a great low-rent thrill, and once again Soderbergh is working with a remarkable cast that includes Michael Douglas, Antonio Bandaras, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender and MMA star Gina Carano. This looks like an action-packed thriller with plenty of twists and turns, though this will all depend on how much fun Soderbergh makes it and whether the story is able to hold up in all of the action. I'm looking forward to it.
As a bonus, check out these great posters for the films (thanks to Jose at Movies Kick Ass for showcasing them first).