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In an interview with the L.A. Times, Matt Damon, currently shooting Contagion with Steven Soderbergh, says the director is seriously considering retiring from the film business within a couple of years. For anyone who watched the director’s world-weary interview in the extras to the Criterion Che set, this might not come as a surprise. Around the same time, he told Esquire that he wanted to retire by 51. In the L.A. Times piece, Damon elaborates on Soderbergh’s thinking with quotes that also provide a nice corrective to the indie-film bromide that “it’s all about the story.” For many of our best filmmakers, that’s simply not true:

“He’s retiring, he’s been talking about it for years and it’s getting closer,” Damon said of Soderbergh, whose credits include Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven, The Informant and Sex, Lies and Videotape. Soderbergh turns 48 next month, and if that sounds young, that’s the point, Damon said.

“He wants to paint and he says he’s still young enough to have another career,” Damon said. “He’s kind of exhausted with everything that interested him in terms of form. He’s not interested in telling stories. Cinema interested him in terms of form and that’s it. He says, ‘If I see another over-the-shoulder shot, I’m going to blow my brains out.’….

“After I worked with Clint [Eastwood] I went back and said, ‘Look, Clint is having a blast and he’s going to be 80 years old.’ And Steven says back, ‘Yeah, but he’s a storyteller and I’m not,’” Damon recounted. “If you’re an actor or a writer or someone working in film, it’s such a waste. For me, I’m going to spend the next 40 years trying to become a great director and I will never reach what he’s reached. And he’s walking away from it.”

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