Oscar Directors: Levinson, Barry

Barry Levinson’s sensibility as a filmmaker was unmistakably shaped by his hometown, Baltimore, the setting of his personal film trilogy, Diner, Tin Men, and Avalon. Both tough and funny, the trilogy reeks with the smell of ordinary lives and gritty realism.

A stunning directorial debut, Diner was an affectionate, semi-autobiographical evocation of coming-of-age in the late 1950s. As the ultimate male-bonding film, it instantly established itself as the American counterpart to Fellini’s masterpiece I Vitelloni, a film that continues to exert impact on American movies, most recently Palookaville and Swingers.

A bunch of men in their early twenties are beginning to move in different directions, but they continue to hang out together, still clinging to their late night sessions at the Fells Point Diner. When they’re together, the boys are so relaxed that they sound worldly and even quick-witted. However, when the boys are out with girls, they’re nervous and constricted.

Levinson showed a sensitive ear for the nuance of authentic conversations, as they take place in all-night sessions. The movie isn’t so much about sex as the quest of sex–typical male obsessions with scoring. Diner provides an intriguing look at the eternal battle between men and women just before the sexual revolution, arguably the last era in American history when people could joke about it.

At the diner, the boys are storytellers, taking off from each other, feeding each other lines, playing simultaneously the dual roles of the performers and the viewers. There are snappy jokes but there are no punchy lines.

A high-spirited, naturalistic slice of life, full of individually fleshed characters. Levinson digged deep inside into the characters, which basically belong to his own generation. Authentic minutiae that captures the mood and look of Baltimore, circa l959, and the half a dozen male characters who find it impossible to communicate with women.

One of the film’s distinctive aspects is that the marginal characters (the adult world) are also fully rounded–the parents are not the one-dimensional, villainous caricatures one encounters in most youth movies.

A critical success that suffered from studio indifference and poor marketing, Diner somehow managed to acquire a cult following. The movie never got the audience it deserved, despite unanimous critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. However, positive word-of-mouth–kept growing through repeated TV showings and video rentals until Diner entered the collective consciousness and became a break-out kind of an art movie, emulated by many young filmmakers.

After his stunning debut, Levinson became a director-for-hire. The Natural (1984), arguably one of his most sentimental pictures, Levinson transformed the dreams and nightmares of baseball into a fantasy-like vision of the game. In Malamud’s novel, the national pastime is mocked with tart humor and derision. Levinson, however, used the film to express his love for an American game as it prevailed before becoming professionalized and taken over by TV. The elegiac mood was reinforced by opening–and closing–the film with images of a boy-playing ball with his father in golden wheat fields.

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), scripted by Chris Columbus and produced by Spielberg, which followed, had considerable charm, but it was not a personal film.

Tin Men put Levinson back in the right track. Going back to Baltimore, this time around he set the story in 1963 and made a poignant comedy-drama about a hustler (Richard Dreyfuss) and a loser (Dany DeVitto), both in the aluminum-siding business, whose paths cross after their cars collide in an accident. Though accomplished, Tin Men was not as good or authentic as Diner, but it delivered.

A melancholy film memory concerning the disintegration of Levinson’s closely-knit family, Avalon completed the trilogy that began with Diner. Tracing the fortunes and misfortunes of an extended family of Jewish immigrants over three generations, the film was intermittently enjoyable, but too soft and episodic, lacking the narrative focus of either Diner or Tin Men.

Levinson’s career demonstrates a sad but well-documented principle in the American cinema: the more personal and intimate a film is, the less chances it has to generate strong box-office results. Indeed, his first–and still best–feature, Diner (1982), and Tin Men (1987) garnered Levinson critical kudos and reputation as a creative and idiosyncratic filmmaker, but proved to be commercially disappointing.

Some of Levinson’s most popular enterprises, Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and Rain Man (1988) are, artistically speaking, among his least interesting films.  Effortlessly hopping from one genre to another, Levinson has successfully resisted Hollywood’s tendency to typecast filmmakers. Levinson has often undertaken large-scale Hollywood projects just to prove that he can handle the size and the budget. Some critics dismissed Rain Man as “a test of managerial skills,” because many previous directors have tried their hands. A smash-hit, it garnered on Levinson the Best Director Oscar and catapulted his name to the A-List.

There is no gratuitous violence, no car chases and not much sex in Levinson’s films. As a filmmaker, he’s a firm believer in the “small,” seemingly uneventful moments of life, which he dramatizes effectively through sharp dialogue without the need of elaborate plot or narrative contrivances. His best work features quirky casting, off-center, male-oriented narratives about ordinary but likeable guys, who endlessly talk about women but basically don’t understand them.

The major shortcoming of his works that it tends to be episodic–he can’t always mold the diverse stories into a shapefully dramatic picture. Nonetheless, in each and every Levinson film, some individual scenes are so splendidly written, and staged that they often compensate for the lack of overall unifying vision.

Unlike Scorsese or De Palma, Levinson isn’t a “visual” director. His serio-comic sociological sensibility recalls the work of Paul Mazursky around the time of Next Stop Greenwich Village and Unmarried Woman. Like Mazursky, Levinson is a raconteur with plenty of fresh stories to relate.

Like Mazursky, Levinson adores actors–and greatly depends on them. As a director who’s also an actor, he has shown true fondness for his performers. Diner alone brought to the forefront a whole new cohort of eccentric actors: Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Daniel Stern, Steve Guttenburg, Ellen Barkin, Paul Reiser.

Later on, major movie stars took a risk and played roles in movies that deviated from their established screen image: Robin Williams received his first Best Actor nomination for Good Morning, Vietnam; Dustin Hoffman gave an Oscar-winning performance in Rain Man; Warren Beatty excelled as the eponymous gangster in Bugsy. And this year, Wag the Dog displays the best work that both Dustin Hoffman and Robert DeNiro have done in years.

“If I knew things would no longer be, I would have tried to have remember better,” says Levinson’s grandfather (played by Armin Mueler-Stahl) in Avalon, a line that may serve as Levinson’s motto, capturing a theme that runs through many of his films: An elegiac, sometimes sentimental, exploration of the past. Most of Levinson’s films are set in yesteryear, from the distant past of Young Sherlock Holmes to The Natural’s 1920s ambience, from post-WWII in Avalon and Bugsy to Vietnam of the late 1960s in Good Morning, Vietnam.

The vagueness of the term Avalon–it could be a neighborhood, a street, a building–is purposeful, alluding to a time when things were better. The gradual breakup of the American nuclear family has been a thematic motif in Levinson’s work, which underlines how primary relations increasingly mean less and less, failing to monitor human conduct in any significant way.

Social relationships are at the center of Levinson’s oeuvre. He has said that he chose to direct Bugsy, not because he was interested in the crime-gangster genre, but because he wanted to explore an unlikely romantic relationship between …fill in.

Quite consistently, Levinson has been concerned with the question of how inner and outer forces have conspired to change a uniquely American way of life, forever banishing the promise of intimate relationships within the family unit. Levinson puts the blame in his movies on the advent of suburbia and its alienating effects, the invention of television and its inevitable effect on the privatization of leisure time, economic prosperity that resulted in anomie and emptiness. We are getting further and further away from Avalon.

Levinson understands that history and technology push American society forward with no possibility of return to the good ol’ days. The End of Innocence thesis applies as much to Levinson’s film output as it does to George Lucas (American Graffiti).

With the exception of Jimmy Hollywood, which was incoherent in its message, Levinson’s only cynical film is his latest, Wag the Dog (co-scripted by David Mamet and Hilary Henkin), a wickedly entertaining black comedy about the manipulative nature of politicians, which more and conduct their affairs like showbiz.

Levinson’s longtime pet project, Toys (1992), was unique in its childlike enchanting imagery, using a whimsical toy factory turned into a nightmare by his brother, an ambitious military dictator.  Dismissed by most critics, the film was a box-office flop.

Vital Stats:

Oscar Nominations: 2 (Rain Man, 1988; Bugsy, 1991)

Oscar Awards: 1 (Rain Man, 1988)

Age at Winning: 46

Career Longevity: over 30 years

Career Output: about 20 features

Career Viability: A decade (1982-1992)

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88