October 27, 2016
        "The Circle" and "The Lost City of Z": Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?                Natalie Portman, Janelle Monáe, Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, Stacy Keach at Hollywood Film Awards                Viola Davis will be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress for "Fences"                Mel Gibson to be Honored with the Hollywood Director Award at the 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Michael Moore drops a surprise new film with "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"                Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars        

Steven Soderbergh’s latest comedy a gift for Cate Blanchett?

The term “prolific” isn’t busy or broad enough to describe director Steven Soderbergh, who apparently never stops working. As the director’s latest documentary, “And Everything Is Going Fine,” prepares to screen at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, N.C. this coming weekend, news breaks that Soderbergh has wrapped another small project, this one about a couple who runs a Sydney theater troupe (which may or may not have been inspired by Cate Blanchett and her husband, Andrew Upton).

The AFP reports that Soderbergh started the film last year while directing a play at the Sydney Theatre Company, where Blanchett and Upton serve as artistic directors.

With so much talent at his fingertips, Soderbergh recruited the cast of his STC play, “Tot Mom,” to star in the improvised comedic film, “The Last Time I Saw Michael Gregg.” The story follows members of a company as they mount a production of Chekov’s “Three Sisters.”

It seems the “Tot Mom” cast got a double dose of Soderbergh’s boundless work ethic while playing along with his comedy. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Soderbergh’s side project would fill many of the gaps in “Tot Mom” rehearsals. They even shot a few scenes during the “Tot Mom” opening night, as well as at the after-party and at Sydney Airport as the Oscar-winning director prepared to leave the country.

“How great that the actors got a taste of working on a film with one of the true masters,” Blanchett told the Australian newspaper. “You can tell everyone had a good time with it, and it was the perfect way to balance the intensity of working on the play.”

Whether or not “Michael Gregg” receives actual distribution remains to be seen. More than likely, it was, as an STC spokeman said, “just a bit of fun between the cast and Steven.”

But the SMH goes on to say that as word of the film’s existence spreads, public interest could lead to the film being entered into film festivals, like the one in Sydney.

To read more on Soderbergh’s latest lark, check out the article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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