Over the past few years Steven Soderbergh has expressed frustration with filmmaking and has, more than once, talked about the prospect of an early retirement from directing. But the last time that talk cropped up it was just before the director went on a serious filmmaking jag. Rapid-fire projects ensued: The Girlfriend Experience, The Informant!, And Everything is Going Fine, Haywire (expect a trailer and poster soon) and Contagion, which is shooting now. Liberace is planned for 2011, and there’s the prospect of a Man From U.N.C.L.E. film from Mr. Soderbergh, as well.

But don’t think that all means that the retirement talk has been buried. Speaking from the set of Contagion, Matt Damon says Steven Soderberg really does plan to retire, and soon.

The LA Times spoke to the actor, who said,

He wants to paint and he says he’s still young enough to have another career. He’s kind of exhausted with everything that interested him in terms of form. He’s not interested in telling stories. Cinema interested him in terms of form and that’s it. He says, ‘If I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I’m going to blow my brains out.’

That observation about being interested in form rather than storytelling links up well with what the director said last year when he talked about retiring:

I’m thinking, ‘Hmmm, I don’t know. A few more years maybe.’ And then the stuff that I’m interested in is only going to be of interest to me.

Mr. Soderbergh had previously talked about retiring at 51 after 25 years of filmmaking. (He’s 48 now.) And Matt Damon gets really specific about his plans:

After this movie we’re doing ‘Liberace’ next summer with Michael Douglas, and then he might do one more movie after that with George [Clooney], and then after that he’s retiring.”

So would that ‘one more’ with George Clooney be The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? What a weird way to go out, but also not an entirely inappropriate one for the director, who has an idiosyncratic way of approaching his career. OK, so let’s say he really does retire after a couple more films. How long until he gets bored and picks up a camera once more? I give it ten years, tops.

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