Talking heads ruin "Dirty Pictures"
Dirty Pictures (Sat. 27, 2000. 9-11 p.m., Showtime)
HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - There's a fatal creative flaw inherent in Dirty Pictures, Showtime's TV movie about the trial of Dennis Barrie, director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center who was prosecuted for booking the controversial Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit in 1990.
The well-intentioned, but stunningly dull picture mixes dramatic elements with jarring real-life interviews including the likes of author Salman Rushdie and right-winger William F. Buckley Jr. Consequently, confused viewers may feel as if they're constantly switching channels between a James Woods vehicle and a too-earnest First Amendment documentary on PBS.
Ilene Chaiken's clunky script sets the stage by focusing on members of the jury as they try to make up their minds about the charges against Barrie. We are then offered documentary footage of various officials, including then-President George Bush and archconservative Sen. Jesse Helms offering their two cents about Mapplethorpe's photographs.
Viewers are eventually introduced to the world of Barrie, the museum
director who took a big chance by sticking up for his group's right
to display the art. Under director Frank Pierson's (A Star Is Born)
experienced hands, Woods' portrayal of Barrie, and Diana Scarwid's winning
turn as his increasingly worried wife, are the picture's biggest assets.
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