Saturday, June 27, 2020

Disclosure (1994)

Saturday is "Take Out the Trash" Day.

Disclosure (Barry Levinson, 1994) Handsome, but su-leeeeeeazy mounting of the Michael Crichton story about sexual politics in the work-place. With Michael Douglas heading the cast, the film could be confused for Fatal Attraction II, and one wonders just how far the makers were going for that, what with Douglas top-lining ...Attraction and Basic Instinct and Demi Moore, late of Indecent Proposal. Unfortunately, where those films whetted the national apetite for dangerous sex-capades, Crichton's cold-shower-of-an-idea seems tame.

At a cutting-edge Seattle software firm* experimenting in virtual reality, Tom Sanders (
Douglas) thinks he's getting a promotion from his slick-as-shit boss (Donald Sutherland). He gets passed-over for Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore, all power-suit, push-up bra and stiletto heels), who's robotically quick with company-approved schpiel, with just a bit of predator to her. She's also an ex-girlfriend of the Douglas character.

Wuh-oh! Better watch out, Mike!

But because it's a two-hour movie, when Meredith invites him for an after-hours conference with some wine and her tongue in his ear, he goes--rather than saying, oh, I don't know--they've got e-mail at this high-tech Seattle firm?--"Hey, let me draw up a complete scenario of where we've been for that last three months with documentations and e-mail that to you, and then we can tackle it fresh in the morning." No, he doesn't do that, he's a little slow. Meredith, though, is pretty darn quick. When she starts unzipping his pants, what does he do? Stop her? Nooooo...When the simulated sex act begins? Noooooo. (I should mention that, at this point, Douglas does the patented Sharon Stone "pleasure" move from Basic Instinct--cock your head back so your neck is bent double and spasmodically open and close your mouth in a guppy fashion).
Finally, after the two are in a quasi-missionary position, the panting Douglas grows a conscience and decides to leave the office, after which Meredith follows him screaming "Get back and finish what you started, or you're dead, do you hear me?!" Since the office is in Pioneer Square, just about every bar-patron and driver on the Alaska Way Viaduct could hear her. As does the cleaning lady.

Anybody think this is a bit dumb?

It is. It gets dumber, when the Douglas character sues for sexual harassment, and she sues back. Crichton is making a point about sexual politics in a predatory environment in the work-place, but the message gets a bit dulled, and then the film-makers make a last-minute bid for political correctness that works as well as it did in The Bonfire of the Vanities, that is, not at all. Crichton was a hell of a writer, but his female characters were usually lacking personality (not that his male characters were ever fully developed), but were particularly and inexplicably fickle in their thinking. He was hardly a person to be objective about the battle of the sexes.** 
Even the high-tech elements are a little suspect, with a virtual environment that evidently sucks so much CPU that it slows down the "Delete" process long enough to make it a race to amp up the drama.Disclosure is a by-the-numbers package deal combining the movie-making cachet of Crichton, Douglas and Moore, in the hope it would translate to big bucks at the box-office. In that way, it resembles nothing so much as the fly-by-night computer companies that took a collective dive when the hi-tech bubble burst. Both had similar problems.

No one was buying.

* One of those very rare films set in Seattle that is actually filmed in Seattle rather than Vancouver, BC. Even Battle in Seattle about the WTO riots was filmed in Canada. Okay, they did come to town for a week-end to shoot pick-ups. 

** His non-fiction book, "Travels" has a couple of episodes where I got the impression that the author was not only a chauvinist, but an unapologetic one.

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