Nov 15, 2011

What Can Haywire Tell Us About Steven Soderbergh’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie?

What Can Haywire Tell Us About Steven Soderbergh’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movie?

Many spy fans will no doubt watch Haywire (review here) as some sort of indicator of what director Steven Soderbergh has up his sleeve for his feature film version of the Sixties spy TV classic The Man From U.N.C.L.E. With this line of thought, we venture immediately into the purely speculative realm… but sometimes rampant speculation is fun, right? My own guess would be that Haywire is not very indicative of what to expect from Soderbergh’s U.N.C.L.E. While the director’s stated affinity for early Bond movies no doubt inspired him in making both films, I’d be surprised if he repeats himself in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.  Repetition is one thing that Steven Soderbergh’s career has not been marked by—three Ocean movies notwithstanding. It’s fun to imagine that in the future film historians might look back at The Informant!, Haywire and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as Soderbergh’s late career (apparently, if he goes through with these cockamamie retirement plans) “spy trilogy.” When they do, I’m willing to bet that The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will be as stylistically different from Haywire as Haywire is from The Informant! While Soderbergh puts his own unique stamp on every action sequence in Haywire, it is clearly a film of the post-Bourne era. (Not stylistically, so much, but in terms of the sheer number of action scenes and how quickly they come.) I suspect that Soderbergh’s U.N.C.L.E. film will unfold at a somewhat more leisurely (though certainly not languid) pace. Although… it would be pretty cool to see a Cold War-set period film deliver the same kind of high-octane action sequences as Haywire, with modern fight choreography, against a Sixties Technicolor backdrop, wouldn’t it? And even more so if the film were shot using Sixties techniques like rear projection and miniatures (a sort of serious take on what Michel Hazanavicius does in the OSS 117 parody films), contrasting starkly with that sort of action? I certainly think so. And there’s some precedence for that approach in Soderbergh’s filmography; The Good German (review here) was shot to approximate the techniques of the 1940s, from its crisp black-and-white cinematography to its distinctive Michael Curtiz-inspired camera movements. Now I think I’ve convinced myself that Haywire-meets-The Good German would be the right approach to present The Man From U.N.C.L.E. in a brand new light, and for the director to do something new, yet still in his wheelhouse... but we’re really no closer to knowing what Soderbergh actually has in mind. Hm. Yes, sometimes rampant speculation is fun! But not very productive, I guess.


Ted said...

I'd guess (or just hope) that Soderbergh will shy away from today's "chaos cinema" that plagued the last Bond entry, and use a semi-classic directorial touch - it won't seem like a midcentury spy romp if everyone is flying around, shouting, with a cut every .5 seconds (as MI:4 looks to feature.)

I'm not sure any studio would agree to go fully retro with rear projection, distressed film stock, miniatures, and old LA Soundstage-scale sets, not for a tentpole feature. I'd see it 100 times in the theater if it did, but I have the feeling the marketing department would have an uphill battle if it was judged to be campy or "old" seeming.

I'd love to see digital animation used only to help create the look of New York circa the early 60s. If we end up with a movie that looks like a modern film, with a period-accurate production design, I'd be elated.

Delmo said...

Please, no rear projection.

Bob said...

Producer Michael Wilson, once in an interview, stated that they would never make a period Bond movie, but always keep him in the current time period.

Likewise, I can't imagine any studio letting an UNCLE film be made in a 60's time period, even if they have Soderbergh directing.

However, I agree with Ted in that I would see it multiple times if it were made. Just look at XMen-First Class and see how successful that 60's look can be.