Wednesday, 2 December 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 78 - Cruise Control

209 - Local Hero - 3 stars
Why have I never seen this before? I realise that I've been saying this a lot recently but considering I live in Aberdeen and this was filmed a short distance away in Pennan, site of the famous hotel and phonebox.
A sweet little fish-out-of-water tale of an American oil executive who comes to Scotland to buy up a small fishing town, only to be (shock horror) charmed by the locals of the quaint setting.
Interesting to see a young, pre The Thick Of It Peter Capaldi in this, and not swearing once!

Early evening was spent at a Director's Cut talk with Craig Armstrong at the University. He has composed the music for such films as Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge and Ray but I kept my geek credentials alive by asking about the differences to the score between original director cut and theatrical releases of Incredible Hulk and use of "the sad walking away music" from the TV show!

Once I got back it was time for a Tom Cruise double bill:

455 - Top Gun - 3 stars
Gosh, where to start with this film? With the Simpson/Bruckheimer/Scott Jet Porn? (no, not that Jet from Gladiators, if only!) With the subtle, almost turning to blatant homoerotic subtext? No, with the Cruise magic movie formula:
In Top Gun, Tom Cruise plays a successful pilot who suffers a crisis of confidence who meets a woman who convinces him that he is a good fighter pilot.
This formula can be used for almost every Tom Cruise film, just change the profession.
Days Of Thunder - change fighter pilot for racing driver.
Jerry Maguire - change fighter pilot for sports agent.
Etc, etc...
Then there is the 'bromance' angle, famously highlighted by Quentin Tarantino in a film called Sleep With Me.
There is topless beach volleyball, men talking about how seeing jets gives them a hard-on, etc. Then there is the brooding sexual tension between Maverick and Iceman that can only be resolved once Maverick's 'partner' Goose dies (closest I've been to tears so far in the challenge, how sad is that?!). Then they can be each others "wingman" any time!
Recently berated someone for not believing that Meg Ryan was in Top Gun, but there she is as Goose's wife. And Tim Robbins pops up to as Merlin too. Odd people to see in a over-the-top production like this.
Oh, but is it any good? Of course, cheesy as hell but very enjoyable but it did fail in its attempt to get me to sign up for the Navy!

420 - Jerry Maguire - 4 stars
This film had me at Hello!
Using the magic formula discussed above, Tom Cruise finds his place in the world as the sports agent with a soul, a new family of single mother and cute/bordering-on-annoying kid, and one excitable client.
Oh Cuba Gooding Jr. You were great in this film, showing us the money. What happened? What a way to piss away all that Oscar goodwill... Boat Trip, Norbit, Daddy Day Camp!
Note to Miss Zellweger, you look great in this film, no need to go for the skin and bones look you had in Chicago!
The best collabortion between Cruise and Crowe, it shows Cruise off to the best of his abilities, which I still rate highly, and never strays too far into sacchrine.

Something odd happened while I was watching the movie.
I had just read an article on the internet about how Waterstones was destroying bookselling as it treats books as commoditites and not pieces of artand it got me thinking if cinemas are doing the same? At the moment The Belmont Picturehouse is going through a horrible period of very low audience figures due to a new 10 screen Cineworld opening in the centre of Aberdeen. This means we are fighting against 3 big multiplex cinemas, with the new one showing the same films as us. Since we have lost our USP, perhaps we need a new one. So I've started writing a Jerry Maguire style mission statement, its not a memo, about how cinema can get back to treating films as events and pieces of culture, not just the bottom line dollar.
I'll post this on the blog once I have finished it.

Day remaining - 287 Films remaining - 381

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