Just caught Steven Soderbergh's film the other day, which I missed completely when it came out (my being in Israel and all), and I'm still a bit confused over what I think about it. Firstly, I'm hugely impressed with Soderbergh, who's really a throwback to another era of filmmaking. Frankly, I'm amazed that he gets to make films at all, especially since, from what I understand, his movies don't tend to make that much money. He's obviously an artistically minded director with a distinctive personal style which he imprints on every frame of his films. (He also acts - and brilliantly, I might add - as his own cinematographer). He doesn't make concessions to audience reaction or to commercial interests, and yet he's managed to put together a significant body of films which have garnered him critical acclaim and some serious pull in the notoriously brutal Hollywood system. The same cannot be said of other, more famous, recent auteurs like Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee who seem to be washed up or, in the case of the former, overhyped one-trick ponies. Soderbergh, on the other hand, has a consistency that his colleagues, for whatever reason, seem to lack. He is also ambitious, a quality much lacking among filmmakers today, and he pushes on the boundaries of film structure and language in a way that is more akin to French filmmakers like Godard than to the Hollywood tradition.
Solaris, which is a remake of an old Russian science fiction film (which I haven't seen, but from what i've read the remake deviates drastically from the original) which was based on a novel by a Polish writer named Stanislaw Lem, is very much in keeping with the brand of science fiction typified by writers like Arthur C. Clarke -- heavy on the technology and philosophical exploration and light on laser guns and space aliens.
(to be completed...)