Cinema: The War of Neurosis

Michael Douglas gets the middle-aged blues

The movie camera is an ageist. It does not care for mature flesh. It ruthlessly exposes the ordinary battle scars of middle-aged actors: the liver spots, the chest freckles, the once taut skin that now hangs like crepe. No wonder American film worships youth. Kids are not only its target audience; they are also its most photogenic subculture.

So it is almost brave of Michael Douglas, 55, to play a college professor who looks his age--and feels it. After a decade or so as the suave (or slimy) manipulator dodging a comeuppance from a strong (or psychotic) woman, Douglas renounces sexual...

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