Scenic Routes: After years of disappointing films, does Neil LaBute’s first still hold up?

In Scenic Routes, Mike D’Angelo looks at key scenes, explaining how they work and what they mean.

When he won the Palme D’Or at Cannes for his first feature, Sex, Lies, And Videotape, Steven Soderbergh famously opened his acceptance speech with the pessimistic disclaimer, “Well, I guess it’s all downhill from here.” That didn’t turn out to be the case, obviously, but his instinct was sound—and not just because his sophomore effort, Kafka, turned out to be a critical and commercial disappointment. Film history is full of actors and directors who started out white-hot, then speedily cooled off. The most fascinating case, to my mind, is Ridley Scott, who would likely be considered the equal of Kubrick and Welles had he tragically died in 1983, having made only The Duellists, Alien, and Blade Runner. That’s not to say that he hasn’t made some …

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