Gulf of emotions
Incredibly handsome and
incredibly talented in equal measure, Denzel Washington is moving up the ranks of Hollywood’s leading men. He tells Alan Morrison and James Ashwood about the post-Gulf War drama, Courage Under Fire.
Hollywood seems to have impeccable timing these days. Independence Day comes out, and the same week scientists find proof of bacterial life on Mars. Courage Under Fire gets ready to hit British screens. and hostilities break out again in the Gulf. lfit wasn‘t so serious. you’d think the world was being stage- managed as a giant publicity stunt for the movies.
Whatever the rallying cries Stateside as America proves again that it’s not comfortable unless it has a defined external enemy, it's clear that the country is still tying up some of the loose ends from the previous head-to-head with Saddam Hussein — not least the issue of deaths in ‘friendly ﬁre' incidents. a subject treated with a surprising amount of sensitivity in Courage Under Fire.
‘People have been killed. accidently. by their own side in every war. but it has never been scrutinised and analysed so much,‘ says Denzel Washington, who plays an army officer forced to confront his personal nightmares about the death of his colleagues when asked to review an American pilot’s candidacy for a posthumous Medal of Honour. ‘In retrospect. had the army been more open. they would not have got into so
much trouble. There were too many officials getting in the way, covering up what has happened.‘
Washington has climbed a lot higher up the Hollywood ladder since his debut in Carbon Copy — a ﬁlm he‘d rather not discuss these days — where he played the illegitimate black son of George Segal. For several years it was in scene-stealing supporting roles that he built a steady reputation. His turn as Steven Biko in Cry Iv'reedom.’ captures the South African activist’s charisma; as a feisty runaway slave-turned- soldier in Glory (also directed by Courage Under Fire's Edward Zwick). he won the Best Supporting Actor ()scar; in Philadelphia. the change of outlook undergone by his conservative lawyer did more to convince the audiences ofthe need for humanity in the AIDS plight than Tom Hanks’s award-winning theatries.
In Courage Under F ire. he receives top billing above Meg Ryan. ‘l‘d heard various names. including that of Derni Moore.’ he says ofthe casting of air force pilot Karen Walden. ‘There was talk of Sigoumey Weaver at one point too. but she was considered too old. Meg has been doing romantic comedies and she wanted to show that she could deliver something else. I was next to Meg doing push-ups on training. I was getting tired. but she was still going. She was in greater shape than any of us.‘
Not. many of his fans would argue. that his own
Otflcer class: Denzel Washington in Courage Under The
shape is in too bad condition. At the age of 4], however, Washington seems to be hinting that the more action-orientated roles he’s taken in the past — like canoonish thriller Ricochet and the unreleased sci-f1 effects piece Virtuosin — are behind him. In any case, career decisions are no longer the most important things in his life.
‘Acting used to be my life, but from our first child, my priority changed.‘ the former journalism student concedes. ‘Now, it is making a pleasant living. I have a boy aged twelve. a girl. eight, and twin girls aged ﬁve. I would never want to be successful and famous at the cost of having children who were awful. You can end up destroying them by not giving them enough support. I have scripts to read. but I am coaching football with my son at school and am enjoying it.’
Washington‘s next screen appearance will be in angelic mode as the heavenly creature who comes down to lend a hand in a remake of the Cary Grant comedy. The Bishop ’3 Wife. By alternating quality projects like Malcolm X, Devil In A Blue Dress and Much Ado About Nothing with big Crimson Tide- style Hollywood movies, he‘s destined to become one of very few actors of his generation who can combine box of free draw with genuine dramatic talent. Courage Under Fire goes on general release on Friday 4 October and is reviewed on page 22.
Field of vrsrons
installations at a host of venues. That said, the backbone of the programme is still the ‘lnternational Zeitgeist’ platform, which showcases 200 single-screen works selected from
While pushing back technological
‘Cinema of Transgressions’, featuring suppressed work by iiichard Kern and Nick Zedd. And if a retrospective is the marker of a true festival, New Visions refuses to be outdone, offering the 8mm ‘sketches’ of multi- media artist Tina Keane.
In the contemporary world of cutting edge visuals, traditional definitions have all but fallen by the wayside. That’s why Glasgow’s New Visions 96 calls Itself an ‘international festival of audio-visual culture’ which warmly embraces experimental film, creative video and new media by the hottest collection of local and international artists working today.
New Visions isn’t just a series of screenings in cinema halls: its .
tentacles reach out city-wide, . . incorporating exhibitions and some Yum Star l" "a" V's'ila’nsglgié'lznsl
barriers and looking towards the future - check out the Gil-ROM gallery at the Gallery of Modern Art - this year’s event also pays its respects to the centenary of cinema, with focuses on German avant-garde films of the 20s and the Glasgow School of Art Kinecraft movement of the 30s, amongst whom revolutionary animator Norman McLaren is numbered.
There are also two programmes of controversial, rare-to-catch shorts from the New York underground
Film-goers are typically suspicious of anything that breaks the pattern of story-stars-popcorn, but a dip Into New Visions refreshes the parts mainstream cinema never touches. Full marks to the programmers for devising an event that reflects and supports the breadth of creativity that starts on our doorsteps and extends across the globe. (Alan Morrison) New Visions runs from Friday 11 October until Sunday 10 November at various venues. See Listings and Index for details.
The List 4- 17 Oct 1996 21