Jul 182018

Sex, Lies, and Videotape is a strong feature film debut for Steven Soderbergh and features some great performances, primarily Andie MacDowell and James Spader. This is well worth watching for anyone who appreciates a well written character drama.



Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Genre(s): Drama
Criterion Collection | R – 100 min. – $39.98 | July 17, 2018

Date Published: 07/17/2018 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Writer(s): Steven Soderbergh (written by)
Cast: James Spader, Andie MacDowell, Peter Gallagher, Laura San Giacomo
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deletes Scenes, Trailers
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 45.6 GB
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

The Criterion Collection provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 3.75/5

Plot Synopsis: Housewife Ann (ANDIE MACDOWELL) feels distant from her lawyer husband, John (PETER GALLAGHER), who is sleeping with her sister, Cynthia (LAURA SAN GIACOMO). When John’s old friend Graham (JAMES SPADER) comes to town, Ann is drawn to the soft-spoken outsider, eventually uncovering his startling private obsession: videotaping women as they confess their deepest desires.

Quick Hit Review: Sex, Lies, and Videotape is a tremendous 1989 feature film debut from prolific and stylistic filmmaker Stephen Soderbergh. The film works on every level from the sharp writing, and in particular, dialogue in combination with amazing performances from all around, most notably Andie MacDowell and James Spader, with Spader receiving a Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape is a pleasantly quiet drama that doesn’t aim to shock an audience but instead introspective on each of the four main characters, though I’d say Gallagher’s John came across far more one-note compared to the others, with absolutely nothing about the character worthy of any sympathy, more of the stereotypical all around asshole person as both a husband and a friend; even Cynthia, played by Laura San Giacomo of Just Shoot Me fame, was more of a likeable character despite having an affair with her sister’s husband with very little, if any, guilt.

In the end, while I wasn’t madly in love with the movie, and find it to be only my fourth favorite film in Steven Soderbergh’s illustrious career (behind Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven and Out of Sight), Sex, Lies, and Videotape is textbook case of fine independent filmmaking for its strong performances and tight scriptwriting.



The single-disc release comes inside a foldout case and a clear plastic slip cover which does a good job attracting fingerprints. Neat looking but give me the usual HD keep case…

Inside is a booklet featuring an essay by critic Amy Taubin and excerpts from Soderbergh’s 1990 book about the film.

Audio Commentary – This track from 1998 with Writer/Director Steven Soderbergh with filmmaker Neil LaBute serving as a moderator of sorts, asking questions and keeps the track flowing.

Stephen Soderbergh Interviews from 1990 (9:05), 1992 (13:31), an appearance on “The Dick Cavett Show” and a new one from 2018 (6:17) finds the filmmaker discussing various aspects of the project and each one is very interesting.

Something in the Air: Making Sex, Lies, and Videotape (28:55) is a new featurette and features actors Peter Gallagher, Andie MacDowell, and Laura San Giacomo discussing working with Soderbergh and the impact the movie had on their careers.

James Spader Interview (5:13) is an excerpt from an appearance on NBC’s Today from September 1989.

Cliff and Larry: Beginning (19:38) is an interview with sound editor/re-recording mixer Larry Blake and composer Cliff Martinez talk about working with Soderbergh since the beginning and the challenges of his debut film.

Deleted Scene (3:20) – As described in the notes on the menu, this scene between Ann and her therapist was ultimately cut because Soderbergh felt it made Ann appear too pliable. Included is an optional commentary with him.

Generators, Noise Reduction, and Multitrack Audiotape (11:58) is an interview with Blake recounting his time working on Sex, Lies, and Videotape and fixing the audio issues back then and today for this release. Comes with archival photographs serving as the background.

TrailersSoderbergh Cut (1:33) and Miramax Cut (1:37)

Rounding things out is a text about the new transfer by Larry Blake.


VIDEO – 5.0/5

There are only a few number of studios that I trust when it comes to restoring older movies, one is Arrow and the other, Criterion Collection. In spite of already having been released on Blu-ray before, Sex, Lies, and Videotape got a new digital transfer, created in 4K resolution from the 35 mm original camera negative where upon thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches and other film damage were removed. The detail level was incredibly sharp and grain was thankfully intact while colors are vivid without seeming oversaturated.

AUDIO – 5.0/5

Where this release really got some much needed attention is with the audio. The included DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track underwent a full restoration by the film’s sound editor/re-recording mixer Larry Blake. As described, the original dialogue-edit elements were located and the dialogue remixed by Blake and Steven Soderbergh, and attention was placed on noise reduction, due to the generator used on the set and locations.


OVERALL – 4.25/5

Overall, Sex, Lies, and Videotape is a strong feature film debut for Steven Soderbergh and features some great performances, primarily Andie MacDowell and James Spader. While it might not be my favorite of Soderbergh’s mostly impressive filmography, this is well worth watching for anyone who appreciates a well written character drama. This Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection has amazing remastered video/audio transfers and a good selection of bonus features.





Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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