[Cultural Attachment]

The coolest website ever? Steven Soderbergh retools films, makes lists and sells booze online

Idol worship: Soderbergh revamps Indy, and others, at extension765.com.
Smith Galtney

So I totally have a crush on Steven Soderbergh. People who know me aren’t surprised by this, since I’ve always had a thing for a) bald men, b) guys who wear glasses and c) dudes who have a nice, prominent schnozz. Soderbergh scores on all counts, so I can’t spot him at awards shows without averting my eyes and giggling coquettishly. But aside from the fact that he also looks really friggin’ cute in a tux, the thing that really turns me on is his website, which is the sexiest place you can visit on the ’net without flooding your email with embarrassing spam.

Billed as “a one-of-a-kind marketplace from Steven Soderbergh,” extension765.com might look like your average vanity site. There’s a page for swag (an Ocean’s Thirteen mouse pad!), a place for art (original prints of exposure-test snapshots from Traffic and Behind the Candelabra run between $750 and $1,000), even a spot that hawks Singani 63, the man’s own brand of 80-proof booze. Then there’s “Salon des Refusés,” featuring “creative detritus” from the Soderbergh archive, and that’s where things get pretty steamy for me.

It’s where Soderbergh lets his nerd flag fly. (Don’t you dare call him a geek. Geeks are anti-social hoarders. Nerds go outside and put their passions to practice.) He lists every movie/TV show/play/book/album he consumed in 2014. (He got to see Gone Girl back in the spring and has viewed the upcoming Magic Mike XXL at least five times.) He shares an old interview conducted with the late cinematographer Gordon Willis. A clip called “Your Past Is Now Mine, Maybe” contains someone’s abandoned home movies, purchased in a flea market in Pasadena, California. Another called “Wide Awake” consists of random imagery set to the sounds of “Trap Doors” by Broken Bells. It bears the lone description, “Sometimes when I’m wide awake in the middle of the night this happens …”

Most impressive, though, are Soderbergh’s personal re-edits of classic movies. I didn’t get to see his leaner interpretation of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which cut out 41 minutes and switched some music around, before the Kubrick estate asked him to take it down. Nor have I watched his “Butcher’s Cut” of Heaven’s Gate, since I doubt I’ll ever be interested enough to watch that notorious flop. But his version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, recast in black and white, silenced and soundtracked with the The Social Network score, succeeds in making you “watch this movie and think only about the staging.” And Psychos, his side-by-side comparison of Hitchcock’s original Psycho with Gus Van Sant’s remake, is a revelation that actually makes you wonder if Anne Heche is a more effective Marion Crane than Janet Leigh. (It also proves the obvious: Vince Vaughn has no business trying to be Norman Bates.)

Soderbergh is quick to acknowledge that what he’s doing with these movies is “immoral and illegal,” and just as quick to brush that hokum aside. “It’s TECHNOLOGY’S FAULT,” he half-jokes in a written intro for 2001. “Without technology, I wouldn’t have been able to spend so much intimate—and, ultimately, inappropriate—time with [these films].” Which basically explains why this might be the coolest website ever.

If most of us wake up in the middle of the night, eat too much ice cream and use our computers to watch panda GIFs, Soderbergh spends his idle moments feeding his head, cracking the codes of great works and honing his craft. And nothing’s sexier than that.

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