sex lies and videotape was a sort of game changer for the economics of independent film, and i enjoyed the movie, but i've never felt he's great or something. good, yes, great, no.
about retiring: making films is a huge pain in the ass and anyone who can write or paint instead will be much happier doing that.
we were talking about whit stillman the other day, he's only done 4 movies, but he made them after realizing that novel writing wasn't for him because it was too solitary of an activity and he didn't enjoy that aspect.
film-- tons of people involved, industrial-scale budgets and logistics, egos galore, imited creative control-- it takes a maniac to survive the demands of filmmaking.