Disclosure (1994)

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*. I know I shouldn’t laugh. Morally, Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas) is doing the right thing, defending his virtue from a sexual predator. And it’s true that sexual harassment goes both ways. It’s a tale as old as Joseph and Potiphar’s wife, after all.
*. But then you see fifty-year-old Michael Douglas, who, to his credit, has been working out and still sports a magnificent coiffure, with thirty-two-year-old Demi Fucking Moore, all stripper body and lingerie. She does the grind on him and he can only mutter “no, no, no, no, no!” to resist. And it happens. You get the giggles. This really is ridiculous.
*. What is even more surprising, however, is that their failed tryst is not the most absurd plot point in Disclosure. Nothing about this movie makes any sense. Not the big things (why are they going after Tom in the first place, and why bother with the sexual harassment angle?) and not the little ones (who the hell is Levin anyway?).
*. Poor Michael Douglas. He does know how to pick ’em, doesn’t he? From Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, and Demi Moore here. You’d think he’d learn.
*. On a less sarcastic note: what is it about Douglas that made him so representative of threatened masculinity in this period? Was he too good-looking for his own good? Were his female co-stars too sexy for theirs? How tragically ironic that after all this he would be diagnosed with throat cancer, which he publicly blamed on cunnilingus. Truth had symbolically imitated the worst nightmares of his screen infidelities.

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*. Any film from this time dealing with computers was doomed to feel dated in a matter of months. But over twenty years later, I think Disclosure holds up reasonably well in this regard. Sure, the tech company, whose main product is a great new stand-alone CD-ROM player, is laughable, but back in the day, before the cloud, such things really were all the rage.
*. The point of the “Corridor,” however, mystified even contemporary reviewers. Why don VR gloves and a visor just to navigate a file system? Surely the funniest part of the movie is when the group of executives at the Four Seasons all rush back up to their room so they can play with it some more. Forget about the hookers and blow, let’s go for a walk down an empty corridor and pull out file folders!

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*. The frank language probably seemed bold in a mainstream movie in the mid-’90s. Today I think we roll our eyes at the use of the word “penis”. As Chris Rock might have said (and this right around the same time): What are they, doctors?
*. I feel sorry for Demi Moore. Meredith is a character who isn’t even interesting as a two-dimensional villain. I want to believe that she’ll be back to buy out Digicom sometime in the future. Maybe that’s who she is in Margin Call, a film that gave her a chance to play a corporate executive straight, and which turned out to be a role she shone in.
*. And isn’t Tom a heel? Did he really have to throw that gratuitous insult at Meredith about how she could go fuck herself with her wine bottles? He deserved to get raked over the coals for that.
*. The issues remain of concern, but even at the time this movie made them seem lightweight. Indeed half-way through the movie the whole sexual harassment storyline is dumped and it turns into a dull and unbelievable corporate thriller. Time and again kinks in the plot have to be cut with quick-fix solutions (and not, I might add, through the assistance of the singularly unhelpful emails Tom receives from “a friend”).
*. Michael Crichton was an idea man with an almost unerring commercial instinct. I think that his intelligence and instinct helped cover up the fact that he was terrible at plotting and character. This made him a great writer of novels and screenplays that weren’t quite for grown-ups, and barely even for young adults. Maybe that’s why Disclosure seems to want to get away from its flirtation with sex and talk of penises. That stuff is for a more mature demographic. Crichton’s real audience are those man-boys in the hotel lobby who can’t wait to go upstairs and play with their cool new videogame console. That’s way more fun, not to mention safer, than messing around with dirty girls.

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