Author: Tessa Mediano


There is a word for those who try to control their surroundings beyond the capacity of a single human being: neurotic. This adjective is commonly associated with psychoanalytic theory, and particularly Freud, who believed that neuroses developed as a result of the repression of psychosexual urges. I would suggest, not unreasonably, that it is this same word that lurks in both the latent and manifest content of Steven Soderbergh’s debut feature, SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE. There is no doubt in my mind that Freud would have fawned over this 1989 film. With a budget of less than $2 million, Soderbergh managed to create a powerful study of sexuality that masterfully utilizes dialogue and set design to convey the film’s central themes. In particular, I found that the director’s emphasis on recurring visual and aural motifs lends SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE much of its subliminal impact.


Picture yourself trudging through the frozen Alaskan tundra, alone, in the midst of a storm. Flecks of ice and frost are whipping around your hunched figure, your bowler hat can barely stay on, and your bamboo cane sinks straight into the snow when you lean on it for support. You will shortly face extreme hunger, paranoia and attempted cannibalism. From an outsider’s perspective, it would appear that your situation is dire.

April 10, 2014 / / Main Slate Archive

One spring weekend, I found myself talking up the Boston Common as some visiting Italian friends and I walked through the still half-frozen park. Pleasantries had already been exchanged, and I was casting out questions that I hoped my rather quiet companions would respond to with longevity and gusto. This failed to happen. I switched tacks and began to babble on about a topic that could sustain me, at least, until we reached our destination: film. More specifically (I hadn’t given up on trying to engage the Italians), I started praising Paolo Sorrentino’s latest movie, LA GRANDE BELLEZZA. Almost immediately, one of my friends let out a booming, derisive laugh that shocked the conversation out of its plodding torpor.