mm— Suocess is
Director Barry Levinson
tells Alan Morrison how a
career that has reached the highs and suffered the lows is back on course with Disclosure. ‘Some writers come from a region. and that's their experience. that's the way they view society. through those eyes — like Faulkner, who would write about the South. Those pieces I‘ve done in the past and probably will continue to do. ()n the other hand. I have a dual kind of career; there are those films. which are very personal. and I've done others where they're totally separate.‘ The career breakdown that Barry Levinson is hinting at becomes clearer
director only. that has garnered the ()scar glories.
Recently. however. another type of ﬁlm has slipped its way into his eurrit'ulum ritue — the dtid. It's true that
he took an early tutnble when heading
for his career‘s second base with 1984‘s
overly sentimental baseball movie The ' Natural. but this was nothing compared
with a browse through his ﬁlmography. f
There are the ‘Baltimore‘ ﬁlms that many ﬁlmgoers hold dear — Diner. 'lin Men. Avalon — and there is the kind of ﬁlm that Hollywood adores — Good Morning Vietnam. Ruin Mun. Bugsy. The former. arguably his best work. beneﬁt from Levinson's personal touch (the writer-director was born in the Maryland state capital 63 years ago). whereas the latter. by no means bad ﬁlms. have a sense of commercial gloss
and formulaic star packaging. Needless : to say. it’s this group. with Levinson as l
to the critical savaging and public sligltting of 1992's 'I'oys. lts follow-up. the lame Tinseltown satire Jimmy Hollywood was banished to a straight- to-video release in the UK. The only shaft of sunlight during this period was the success of the television series
Homicide. for which Levinson acted as
executive producer and director of its pilot episode.
A relative latecomet' to the director's chair. Levinson was already SI) when he made Diner in I982. a classic piece of nostalgic ensemble playing which gave exposure to several young actors including Mickey Rourke. Kevin
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Barry levinson discusses Disclosure's finer points with Michael Douglas
Bacon. Ellen Barkin and Steve
I Guttenberg. Before that. and alter
. graduating from American University in Washington DC. he had spent some I time in television. ﬁrst as a floor
; manager in Washington. then as part of l a stand tip comedy trio in California with Craig Nelson and Rudy DeLuca. His sense of parodic comedy found a home in scripts for Mel Brooks (Silent i Movie. High Anxiety and History ()f' The World. Part One). while his other writing credits include And Justiee For All. Best Friends. Inside Moves and Uitjitit/t/iil/y Yours.
His latest offering as director is Dire/osure. the epitome of the slick. throwaway thriller. Levinson here is merely the man who assembles each of i the elements in the right order — the i Michael Crichton novel. sexual
harassment. virtual reality. Michael Douglas. Demi Moore — knowing that this is not the time for rocking studio
I boats. bttt for delivering a solid piece of
entertainment. The ﬁlm is set in a glitzy. Iii-tech. executive world of make-believe. where the twist in the plot is that it‘s the man who is at the receiving end of the woman‘s sexual advances. Few projects have been surer of box ofﬁce success.
‘The reality is. it's a business and it's about dollars.‘ Levison admits. ‘lt‘s not in deﬁance or whatever. but I don‘t know how to approach a movie that I think is going to be successful versus one that isn't. I thought 'l'oys would be a successful movie. So all you can do is take the movie that you respond to because you have a desire to make it. Most suspense thrillers are almost devoid of anything that‘s going on in society. and they function in their own little zone. I think. by the nature of the material. it will offend those who are rigidly politically correct because it's a man being harassed — which is a simplistic view. that drama can't ultimately turn things around or upside down in order to explore them. Generally. you will offend people in America today if there is an idea in a movie. so they're happiest to make a movie that is devoid of any idea.‘
So. as the dollars roll in for Dire/osure and Levinson garners favour with the movie moguls. it‘s to be hoped that he is able to raise himself from his current director-for-hire position. As he showed with the Baltimore trilogy. it‘s only when he‘s helming his own ideas and dialogue that he seems capable of creating something that brings a little heart to his professionalism.
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The List 10-23 Mar l99519