“You know, Bill, there’s one thing I learned in all my years…”
“You know, Bill, there’s one thing I learned in all my years…”
Rain Man, always a favorite of my dad’s, had somehow never made it into the line-up of eighties film, music, and culture he has imparted on me. Last night, I decided—with the help of Netflix Instant—to remedy that situation.
This film turned out to be much more profound than I expected it to be. Its commentary on the perceptions of mental illness in the eighties in particular surprised me. Although many psychologists and psychiatrists have complained that Dustan Hoffman’s portrayal of Raymond does not adhere to the traditional diagnosis of autism, it is the reactions of people in the movie towards both Raymond and other mentally challenged characters which truly reveal the shift in attitude toward mental illness that has occurred in the past few decades. In the film, reactions to Raymond outside of the institution he has been placed in range from outright disdain and mockery—originally stemming from Charlie, Raymond’s brother, played by Tom Cruise—or painfully patronizing. Although complete understanding—both in the scientific and social acceptance sense—of mental illnesses with likely never happen, Rain Man certainly emphasizes that the level of acceptance of the mentally challenged has risen.
The movie also raised several ethical quandaries, particularly in the sequence in which Charlie takes Raymond to a casino in Las Vegas and uses his autistic savant abilities to count cards. In truth, the entire premise of the film is based on an extremely unethical type of bargaining—Charlie wants half of his late father’s fortune, and kidnaps Ray in a sense in order to strike out a deal with the psychologist who has been placed in charge of Raymond’s affairs. This obviously questionable behavior is soon replaced however by Charlie’s genuine desire to care for his brother, which gives rise to yet another ethical debate—would Ray be better off with the personal connection of his brother and more risk of physical or emotional harm from environmental factors or in an institution devoid of danger and family relationships?
Even more striking than the social commentary buried in Rain Man was Hoffman’s extraordinary portrayal of a high-functioning autistic man. As previously mentioned, several experts took issue with Hoffman’s technically inaccurate portrayal of autism. However, in my opinion, Hoffman more than Cruise became the focal point of the film. His ability to authentically and consistently convey a serious mental handicap throughout the movie impressed me beyond belief. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it must have been to believably convey a complex mental illness like autism while still trying to convey the emotion necessary to make the back-story convincing. Hoffman was also, amazingly, able to bring true humor to the screen through his representation of Raymond. This endearing and surprising humor is especially evident in the scene where Raymond, complaining about having to wear Charlie’s underwear instead of his preferred Hanes boxer shorts from K-Mart, annoys his brother into throwing said underwear out of the car and cries, “Uh-oh, you left your shorts on the highway.”
I realized a few things watching Top Gun:
I also noted that, outside of Goose, Maverick, and the rest of the armed forces singing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” music is heavily relied upon in this movie. Tony Scott even reuses a couple of songs over and over again, which I don’t see very often in movies. Usually it seems a filmmaker will use a song maybe twice, but in this film there are two songs that dominate. “Highway to the Danger Zone” pumps us up during the opening sequence, then returns a few more times to enhance other awesome flight scenes. Plus it backs up Barney in his Top Gun tribute from How I Met Your Mother.
Maverick must be awesome if Barney wants to be him for Halloween. But even more noticeable is “Take My Breath Away,” and that’s probably because it’s played like three times in the span of five minutes. It seems like any time Maverick looked at Charlie his inner monologue plays the song. It becomes almost comical because it stops for a few moments when the action steps away from Maverick and Charlie, but it comes back immediately. But, finally. they consumate in the dark and (I don’t believe) we have to hear the song again. It just seemed odd that a filmmaker would reuse one song so much, let alone two separate songs, but if anyone feels differently (or has any examples of other films that do this) please sound off in the comments.
As far as the costuming goes, it’s 2012 and I was tempted to get a bomber jacket, so I can only imagine what fashion trends popped up after the movie premiered in the 80’s. I usually think of Tom Cruise as a wacky guy, but I’ll admit that the man had some “swag” (thanks to his costume designers).
Overall, I loved this movie. It was exciting, engaging, patriotic, and made me want to go out and get a pilot’s license. Don’t be surprised if I actually do show up to class sporting that bomber’s jacket. Cause I definitely feel the need for speed.
I can honestly say I had never seen Risky Business before this class. I have done the costume for halloween and theme parties and knew it was from that movie, but I never took the time to see the film. Of course I loved it. It was hysterical. It made me want to approach life decisions with “What the f***”. This film definitely stands up over time. There is a popular website called Total Frat Move where Joel’s character is idolized for being “fratty”. Guys have posted “My morning are like Risky Business…minus the socks. TFM” and “Dressing like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Every damn day. TFM.” He is a kid in high school who is worried about his future, his parents go out of town, lets loose and has a raging party, makes a lot of money from being a pimp, and still gets into an Ivy League. How could this character not be idolized? I do not really see this movie as being a distinctly 80s film. Yes it takes place in the 80s, but the story is a relatable one.
I would obviously recommend this movie to everyone. I feel like I may be the only person who had not seen it yet, but if I ever find someone, I would tell them it is a must-see. This film has not been remade, but it did kind of remind me of the film The Girl Next Door, where the nerds in high school eventually get involved with porn stars and make a lot of money in that industry. A lot of movies from the 80s have characters that guys idolize for being “cool”, like Ferris Bueller or Joel Goodmen. The fact that kids my age and younger dress up like “Risky Business” shows how it is connected to 21st century. It envelopes the idea of having fun and making money doing so.
Top Gun has to be one of my favorite movies I have watched; not only because Berlin’s, “Take my breath away” is played like almost every 5 minutes, but because of the visuals. I’m just so amazed of the quality of those shots at a time like this. Today, it seems like those scenes would be so easy to film; I just can’t even imagine how difficult it was back then with their technology.
The Navy fighter pilot scenes are so intense that I didn’t even have time to focus on the characters and their relationships. It was really cheesy, but managed to be really patriotic. This movie was also a great film for Tom Cruise to start out with; although it really didn’t focus on his character, he managed to grab the attention of the ladies at the time the film was released. And I will just never forget that opening scene… SO INTENSE!
There is no doubt that the director of this film is very talented. Top Gun really established his career as a “commercial director” and supported him in making television spots late into his career. Sadly, however, Tony Scott recently committed suicide by jumping off the L.A. bridge. There is no doubt, nonetheless, that he will forever be distinguished by the intense visual style he elicits into his films that allow viewers to be captured into his huge action scenes. I found it to be a coincidence that at the time I watched this film the director was being talked about all over the news; a rather upsetting coincidence at that (his story could be read at http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/19/local/la-me-tony-scott-20120820).
The sad tale of Tony Scott will forever go down in film history as a tragedy, but he will also be remembered for the huge success he brought about to Hollywood film. Top Gun still is an 80’s classic that would not only boost the success of action films, but will also bring about the big stars in the film industry.