Steven Soderbergh's High Flying Bird Misses Its Shot | 2/8/2019 | Jordan Hoffman
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Even when he isn't making a heist movie, Steven Soderbergh is often making a heist movie. The Ocean's series and Logan Lucky are explicit, but Magic Mike is about a guy learning to work an angle (his hot bod) to make a score. You can say the same for The Girlfriend Experience. The Informant! is a caper spiraling out of control, and Erin Brockovich, while best remembered as a great star vehicle, does conclude with a big triumphant cash settlement. High Flying Bird, while being defiantly low on action, is a quiet celebration about the hustle and the long con. What's won at the end may actually be far more important than money.

There's also something of a heist in the movie itself. Shot independently on an iPhone (and featuring multiple references to Netflix as a bold, disruptive agent in the entertainment industry), the High Flying Bird trailer seems like a snappy, juicy movie about basketball. This is quite far from the case. It is a wordy, hyper-intellectual series of business negotiations. In restaurants, offices, cars and living rooms, Ray (André Holland) is a sports agent who is either pivoting madly or has a brilliant master scheme to save his career, and bring dignity to his clients, during an NBA lockout.

Soderbergh - Use - IPhone - High - Bird

Soderbergh's use of an iPhone is simpatico with High Flying Bird's ultimate stick-it-to-the-Man message. About one hour into this 90-minute film, Ray's top star, Erick (Melvin Gregg), shows up at a local New York school's benefit clinic and ends up going one-on-one against his biggest rival. (He's a would-be teammate if the bosses and player's union could work out a deal, but for now the pair are in a Twitter diss-war, which maybe is being fueled by Ray; it's hard to know.) Someone just so happens to shoot this on their...
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