Lyne has built a career out of making obsessive
films, often sexual in nature. He's never been afraid
to take on taboo subjects, and his reputation has
occasionally suffered as a result. While others
have played it safe and given us cute aliens or
epic battles, Lyne gives us the cinematic equivalent
of picking up a large rock and looking at what squirms
He's turned in his share of money
makers, though, and they've allowed him the freedom
to pick and choose the projects that interest him.
The strategy has lead to at least one stellar clunker,
but it's also allowed him to tackle the extremely
sensitive Lolita as well as a couple other
projects that other established directors would
not have touched with a ten-foot tub of extra-buttered
Lyne's first effort, with early performances
by Jodie Foster and Laura Dern as young California
girls coming of age with little or no adult
supervision. Of course, while they're searching
for a good time, they find tragedy. (And I'm
not just referring to Scott Baio's performance.)
Shows promise but doesn't live up to its potential.
The first film from the Don Simpson-Jerry Bruckheimer
dynamo that eventually redefined the ways movies
were packaged. Flashdance was a tremendous
hit, earning in the neighborhood of $85 million
on an ultra-low budget. It struck a chord in the
dreamers of the world; for about a year, it was
impossible to turn on MTV without seeing footage
from the movie chopped up into several videos. This
made Lyne a very bankable name and allowed him to
choose his next project.
The steamiest mainstream movie since Bertolucci's
Last Tango In Paris. The fact that stars
Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger were willing to plumb
the depths of perversity made the film much stronger.
And because its release on videotape coincided with
the growth of the video rental market, it became
a staple for every video store. The sado-masochistic
themes were too strong for a lot of stomachs, but
it struck nerves in people who had always fantasized
about such things but could never bring themselves
to express their darker side.
Another story of obsession gone wrong. Michael Douglas
has a one-night stand with Glenn Close while his
wife is out of town and ends up with the ultimate
psycho-bitch from hell on his heels. This is one
of the tightest thrillers made in recent years and
would have done the masters of the genre proud.
Close successfully changed her image from sweet
to sour in a knife-wielding, bunny-boiling role.
Lyne's original ending had Close successfully frame
Douglas for her murder, but that was considered
too much for audiences to take, so the current ending
was tacked on in its place.
By far the most atypical of all of Lyne's work—essentially
a reworking of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.
Far too many flashbacks make the work difficult
to decipher, but it's visually stunning and contains
some fine acting by Tim Robbins. Unusual movie and
worth working through.
It stirred up a lot of controversy when it came
out, but now, only a few years later, it's merely
a joke that pops up in sitcoms from time to time:
for a million dollars, would you let your wife sleep
with someone? On a deeper level, it deals with trust
and the ability to separate love from sex (thus
connecting it, of course, to Fatal Attraction).
Ultimately, it's a flat movie that teases but doesn't
deliver. But because it had Robert Redford, Demi
Moore and Woody Harrelson, it made a ton of money.
Certainly more faithful to Nabokov's original novel
than Kubrick's 1962 adaptation, and Lyne got some
fine performances from Jeremy Irons and Frank Langella.
But it was less than a stellar performance, money-wise.
(What could Lyne expect when three studios refused
to release it, fearing backlash from the community?)
The controversy and anger it stirred up may send
Lyne on a longer vacation than he's used to.