Recently I’ve been watching some classics starring Michael Douglas, who is one of the best actors of the 80’s and 90’s, and here I’ll recommend seven of his greatest films during that period you should watch this week.
1. The Game (1997)
Wealthy but depressed Nicholas van Orton has just turned the same age his father was when he committed suicide. He receives a mysterious birthday gift from his brother that enters him in a game that strangely integrates into his life.
It’s a very mind-bending psychological thriller, as you can’t tell how much of it is part of the game and how much his life is just unravelling before his eyes. He meets characters and he can’t tell if they should be trusted, people are chasing him and his life is being exploited. As things become more intense it leads to an outstanding climax that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end.
This is my personal favourite of his films, I found his character incredibly relatable and you’re constantly with him as things become intense and desperate. This is one of David Fincher’s most underrated films, and I feel it’s way better than some of his more popular films like The Social Network. I’d put it right up there with Fight Club and Gone Girl as one of his best.
2. Wall Street (1987)
Douglas of course won the Academy Award for his performance as Gordon Gekko, a greedy corporate raider who takes a young stockbroker, Bud Fox, under his wing for his insider illegal information.
For an antagonistic character that could’ve come off as a caricature, Douglas plays him in a non-stereotypical way and makes him completely human. His “Greed is good” speech is one of the most iconic movie speeches of all time.
Charlie Sheen is great as Bud, who is hungry for success, not to mention getting his real-life dad, Martin Sheen, to play Bud’s dad. For a crime drama without any violence or suspense, it's more about dialogue. It's enjoyable because Douglas and Sheen keep you engaged.
3. The War Of The Roses (1989)
When the seemingly perfect married couple, Oliver and Barbara Rose, begin to split up, they fight over material possessions and neither are willing to give up the house.
The film becomes a series of unpleasant tactics Oliver and Barbara pull on each other to force each other out of the house. Douglas and Kathleen Turner have fantastic chemistry with each other and have the right balance of comedy and drama in their performances. Directed by Danny DeVito (who also stars as their divorce lawyer) in a stylish black comedy that satires marriage and materialism.
4. Basic Instinct (1992)
Detective Nick Curran investigates the brutal murder of retired rock star, Johnny Boz, he suspects Johnny’s girlfriend Catherine Trammel. Trammel is an author who previously wrote a book about a murder very similar to Johnny’s.
The film was rather infamous at the time of its release for its multiple sex scenes and nudity, violence, and portrayal of the villain being bisexual. However, regardless of how you feel about these– if you take them out of the equation this is still an intriguing mystery thriller.
Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell is the ultimate femme fatale, the way she plays off Douglas becomes such a series of mind games that it’s hard to tell which character to trust. The more Nick learns the truth, the more questions he has and his suspect list piles up, which leads to a bloody climax.
Paul Verhoeven’s direction is incredibly beautiful and the music is fascinating to listen to.
5. Fatal Attraction (1987)
Dan Gallagher is happily married to Beth, however when she goes out of town for a few days he meets Alex Forrest and sleeps with her. Dan considers it a one-off, however Alex is not willing to let him go and persistently goes to extreme measures to keep his attention.
It’s a pretty intense thriller; as Glenn Close’s Alex goes to many extremes, you’re worried what she’ll do next. Anne Archer gives an underrated performance as the sympathetic wife, who’s oblivious to her husband’s behaviour and is caught in the middle of the conflict.
Maybe it’s just me but I found Archer way more attractive than Close. Then there’s of course the famous rabbit scene that spawned the iconic phrase ‘bunny boiler’.
The only slight drawback is the ending is a little over-the-top, which was re-shot last minute because the original ending was deemed to be anti-climactic.
6. Disclosure (1994)
Tom Sanders is expecting a promotion at a CD-ROM division, only for it to be given to former girlfriend, Meredith Johnson. Meredith calls him to an after hours meeting, where she seduces him, which he initially reciprocates but then rebuffs. An angry Meredith files a sexual harassment claim against him the next day, but what is her true motivation?
It’s a pretty engaging thriller and interesting portrayal of sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as gender politics, that should be watched during #metoo. Demi Moore is a great foil for Douglas, very convincing at the lies she tells during the tribunal, making Tom even more desperate to prove his innocence.
The third act however does get very disjointed, it almost feels like a different film and gets a bit silly in some parts.
7. A Perfect Murder (1998)
Steven Taylor discovers his wife Emily is having an affair with con-artist painter, David. As part of a revenge scheme to get hold of Emily’s inheritance, he blackmails David into a plan to have Emily killed. However things don’t go exactly according to plan as they didn’t count on Emily’s will to survive.
The film is a remake of Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder, which I’ve not seen yet but as a film in it’s own right it’s highly entertaining. Gwyneth Paltrow does a great job at making you root for her character, despite being an adulteress; while Viggo Mortensen is fun to watch. Douglas plays off of them really well, playing mind games with them that make you wonder if he is a step ahead of them or not.
Written by Jack Parish