Rain Man (1988)

Rain Man
Directed by Barry Levinson
Written by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow, based on his story.
(number 397)

Tiny Baby Tom Cruise stars in a movie where he plays an 80s capitalist narcissist, the same character template as good old Patrick Bateman. But the twist in this movie is that he has a secret brother who has a mental disability, played by the genius Dustin Hoffman, it turns out that the twist actually makes a huge difference to the angry white business guy template. I like that.

I’ve never seen the movie start to finish before, I’m most familiar with the character of Ray from the animaniacs sketch Rita and Runt, where the big dog spoke just like Ray. Lots of ‘definitely, definitely’ and so on. I must have seen little bits of it at some stage but all I really knew about it was that he goes to Vegas and uses his savant brother to cheat at cards and get money.

There’s some really beautiful shots as they cross the country. Especially the sunset over the desert… I’ve always liked the idea of a road trip across America and this movie isn’t helping with that desire. It was interesting watching with Anna who was in Vegas a few months previous and was able to tell me just how much the city has changed since ’88.

Does it make me love the people? I dunno, you’re kind of watching the slow humanisation of Charlie, but he’s so awful to Ray it’s hard to feel much for him. I love Ray, he’s very cute and endearing which I’m sure is the point of the entire movie. Actually yeah, once he realises that Ray was his Rain Man imaginary friend, and Ray tells him the story of how the hot water hurt the baby I loved both of them. I also love the sequence after they win big in Vegas when he teaches Ray how to dance.

Movies like this are, I think, pretty important in the way that they bring different kinds of people into the foreground and demonstrate their humanity. That said, I’m not in a position to say if this movie is a fair or balanced portrayal of someone with autism. At least it pushes it into the limelight and promotes understanding – Charlie switches from wanting to ‘cure’ Ray to genuinely trying to do what’s best for Ray and what would make Ray happy.

Bechdel test: Not so as you would notice. Susanna is probably the only named woman and she gets left behind for much of the movie. It does please me that she is also the lead love interest in Hot Shots, opposite Charlie Sheen pretending to be Tom Cruise.

Best line:

Probably when Ray’s making the humming honking noise that he can hear Susanna making love with Charlie, that was very funny, but for feels…

Charlie: When did you leave?
Raymond: January 12, 1965. Very snowy that day. 7.2 inches of snow that day.
Charlie: Just after Mom died.
Raymond: Yeah Mom died January 5, 1965.
Charlie: You remember that day. Was I there? Where was I?
Raymond: You were in the window. You waved to me, “Bye bye Rain Man”, “Bye bye.”

State of Mind: I enjoyed it. It’s maybe in need of editing, I think it’s longer than it has to be but at the same time it’s relatively fine to watch – doesn’t drag, I just got really sleepy. I really hated the ending, I was crying and crying. Anna said it was okay because they were going to see each other in two weeks or whatever, but I really wanted Ray to stay with Charlie and have a happy life outside the institution.

Watched movie count

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Jerry Maguire (1996)

Jerry Maguire
Directed and written by Cameron Crowe.
(number 422)

Watching American Psycho has given me a very different lens for this movie. I’m sure I’ve kind of sort of seen it once before, when someone else was watching it in the room and I was doing something else. Having watched American Psycho I now see this kind of film, lionizing this kind of successful white American heterosexual businessman as a lot more ominous. Jerry is a bit more down on his luck than Christian Grey or Patrick Bateman but he’s in the same ballpark as them. It’s a bit more interesting than the men in Glengarry Glen Ross (which I will keep coming back to because it really was a milestone picture in my 500 list watching for understanding movies about businesses.)

But maybe I’m being a bit harsh on poor old Jerry. This movie has a softer heart than the ones I’m comparing it to and it definitely has an interesting examination of emotional unavailability for the title character.

It’s all very soft focus, portraying sports as the one true religion of the States, bringing people together and galvanising men into Real Men. There’s a lot of talk about love vs money but ultimately the goal of the characters is to have both, of course. It’s hard to imagine a happy ending for Jerry where he loves his new wife but has failed at his job of getting contracts for Rod. I feel very cynical writing about this movie but I guess it’s the mood I was in as we watched.

To be fair, I did watch this with Anna as we built Lego Arkham Asylum so it’s fair to say it didn’t get my full and undivided attention. That said, I did find myself forgetting about the Lego and gazing at the screen at several moments, so I was somewhat enchanted.

My favourite Cameron Crowe film is Almost Famous, and I want to say there’s not too much in common with it except for a certain golden saturated love for the scenery and a fascination with golden haired women who are a bit messy and not quite together.

Does it make me love the people? I guess it does. I was pretty teary at the end so I definitely liked Rod Tidwell and his family. Jerry it’s a little harder to love but the movie just sort of assumes you will, since it shows him ‘growing a conscience’ and losing his job over the revolutionary mission statement he writes and sends out. Knowing what we know about Tom Cruise now, it’s hard to separate his characters from his weird behaviour outside

Bechdel test: Dorothy talks to her sister Laurel about how bad Dorothy’s decision to quit her job and work with Jerry. Like its sort of halfway about him but mostly it’s about Dorothy’s choices and how little she likes the unnamed women ranting about their divorces in the next room. It’s a pass, I’d say.

That said there’s an uncomfortable commentary on women – the fiance Jerry has at the start of the movie is a classic, cartoonish stereotypical career woman, totally not vulnerable or sensitive. By contrast Renee Zelwegger’s Dorothy is shown as soft spoken, entranced by romance and almost always shown mothering her little boy.

Best line: Obviously the classic line is ‘show me the money’ right? Or maybe it’s the ‘you complete me’ bit or ‘you had me at hello’, all of which are a bit cliche now, since this movie did so well.

State of Mind: It lost me in the middle, but I do like the ending. Even got a little bit teary. Anna liked it, so generally it’s a success. I can’t get the American Psycho comparison out of my head though, heh.

Watched movie count

Top Gun (1986)

Top Gun
Directed by Tony Scott
Written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr based on a magazine article by Ehud Yonay
(number 453)

How many times has Michael Bay seen this film do you think? Will looked up Tony Scott and found out he was Ridley Scott’s brother and looking at how many movies he directed in late 80s/early 90s I wonder why his name

I know I’ve seen this movie before. I know that it played a lot when I was growing up, my sister or brother would hire it from the video shop, but it never really kept my attention when I was a kid. I’m sure I watched it in a movie night a few years ago too but watching it again now I’m reminded that actually the movie I watched the most was Hot Shotz, which is by far the funnier movie.

But I’m not reviewing Hot Shotz, I’m reviewing Top Gun, which is the most homo erotic movie about fighter pilots one could imagine without having a single gay kiss. All these muscled, sweaty men with gigantic fighting machines, arguing over who is the top and giving each other smouldering looks, playing beach volleyball, touching each other after communal shower. It’s alllll there. I enjoy this article.

Does it make me love the people? Eh. It’s kind of hard to care… I’m not great at action movies any more and there’s too many fight sequences for me to pay full attention. But sure, they kill off Goose to jerk the tears and make Maverick rethink his attitude and you do root for him.

Bechdel test: There’s Charlie – the love interest for Tom Cruise and Carole, played by Meg Ryan and love interest for Goose…they are in a scene together but they talk about Maverick 😦 To be fair, just about all the conversations in the movie are about Maverick so I guess they were just trying to fit in but still.

Best line:
Air Boss Johnson: DAMN! That’s TWICE! I WANT SOME BUTTS!

Carole: Take me to bed or lose me forever!

State of Mind: Yeah. I think this movie was way more impressive in the 80s. But watching it with Anna and Will we mostly enjoyed it for the gay jokes and silliness. Plus I made some pretty great nachos so I was sorta riding the enjoyment of those during the film. Ref this facebook thread.

Will informs me that this movie revolutionised the way air battles are filmed, so… that’s good. That’s a good thing.

Watched movie count

Excellent theme songs, this movie has. Starting with…