A horror film by the estimable, sober-minded Barry Levinson? Why not? The veteran director of such earnest endeavors as Rain Man, Diner, Bugsy and Sleepers has always entertained a lighter streak. He began his career writing The Carol Burnett Show, and Wag the Dog was a political satire. But a genuine hair-raising creature feature is a real departure. Say hello to The Bay.
Using the time-tested conceit of “found footage” popularized by films like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, the meticulous Mr. Levinson, with the urgency of a naturalistic screenplay by Michael Wallach and appealing performances by a cast of unknowns, has created a chilling sense of cinema-verité panic that keeps you spellbound and enlightened at the same time. The found-footage horror concept is usually restricted to tales of the supernatural, related after the fact. This is the first time I’ve seen it used to reveal an ecological catastrophe, showing the phases of a natural disaster and a government cover-up through multiple media sources, webcams, closed-circuit cameras, cell phone footage, news reports, video coverage by a rookie intern on a morning TV show on her first assignment and various victims whose goal is to tell the surviving world what really happened. The facts that emerge baffle the Coast Guard, the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control and Homeland Security. Your hair will stand on end.
Barry Levinson’s What Just Happened? is not a particularly good or funny or incisive inside-Hollywood movie, but no one who was leaving the film’s premiere on Wednesday evening at the Museum of Modern Art seemed to mind. Afterward, on the second and third floors of the nearby 21 Club, Sean Penn–who before the film started Read More
Last night the much-discussed Hollywood contingent here in Denver, who have been lending their “visibility” to myriad
events and causes all over town, congregated in the V.I.P. section of the Black Eyed Peas concert. Members of the Creative Coalition’s
hard-working band of entertainers—Alan Cumming, Tim Daly, Anne Hathaway, Spike Lee, Barry Levinson, Read More
DENVER—After hosting a lunch in support of helping diabetes patients at the restaurant Panzano, the Creative Coalition gathered its merry band of New York-based celebrities into a back section of the restaurant to get on with the showbiz-oriented non-profit’s lesser known agenda this year: a documentary, called Poliwood, featuring their historic voyage to the Democratic Read More
LOS ANGELES-February marks the end of the rainy season in
Los Angeles. The air is cool. The nights are chilly. A strange,
spirit-dampening meteorological phenomenon occurs out here that we on the East
Coast might call “weather”: There are entire days when the sky is filled with
rain clouds, when the glorious California sun doesn’t Read More
My mother has been known to make Thanksgiving dinner on any night but Thanksgiving. She expertly microwaves the local kosher butcher’s turkey, stuffing, spinach soufflé and noodle kugel in, oh, May or March. But never on Thanksgiving. No, on Thanksgiving, for as many years as I can remember, my family goes to a movie and Read More
Levinson Does 1954; Depp Dresses 1799
Barry Levinson is back in Baltimore, and Liberty Heights is the latest in what I call his Baltimore Quartet-four movies about the writer-director’s hometown in the 1950′s that include Diner , Tin Men and Avalon . There was apparently something darker and campier going on than the Read More