Rain Man (1988) Film Review

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Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) is a yuppie who is running some kind of a scam involving importing luxury cars or something (no idea – it was complex and had to be completed within a certain amount of time which caused Charlie much stress throughout) when his estranged father passes away. Expecting to inherit his father’s fortune, Charlie is left with a beautiful old car and little else. In tracing where the remaining money is going, Charlie discovers that he has an older brother who has been living in assisted care for decades. Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) is autistic and requires set routine. Charlie takes Raymond from the facility, thinking he can blackmail the lawyers into giving him money. But the road trip across the country ends up being more than just a physical journey.

This is really a great film. It’s a little obvious at times, but that’s fine. Hoffman is great as Raymond, and while at times, I felt that Charlie was making choices that weren’t really fitting with his personality, it all allowed both of the characters to grow. It is dated, but in a good way. I just really liked it.

Rain Man won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Lead Role (Dustin Hoffman), Best Director (Barry Levinson) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. It was nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Original Score.

 

 

What Just Happened (2008) Film Review

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Ben (Robert De Niro) is a film producer whose latest film, staring Sean Penn (playing himself) tests poorly – especially the killing of a dog at the end. He needs to fix it, which takes all kinds of maneuvering. On top of this, he is dealing with the end of his marriage with Kelly (Robin Wright), his teenage daughter Zoe (Kristen Stewart). Plus, the star of his next film, Bruce Willis (also playing himself) has grown an ugly beard and will not listen to pleas to sort himself out before shooting. Even his manager, Dick Bell (John Turturro) cannot sort it out (in-between his serious stomach issues).

It’s a film that is full of stars and Hollywood inside stuff, and I reckon that it is entirely possible that people within the industry would relate to it a lot, even if they may not like it. Me? I found it a bit interesting, and somewhat entertaining, but it didn’t totally grab me.

 

Wag the Dog (1997) Film Review

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Ages ago, I reviewed The Ides of March and felt that it was quite average for a political thriller, especially compared to films such as Wag the Dog and Primary Colors. Since, I’ve discussed the film and read other reviews, and it seems that most people thought it was a much better film that I did. I do want to revisit it, however I wanted to see the others first for some comparison.

Wag the Dog tells the story of a Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro) and Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) who are working in the last fortnight before a presidential election to bury the story of a sexual encounter between the President and a young girl. They bring in Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to produce the appearance of a war with Albania, along with victims, heroes, the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

It’s fabulous. It totally plays into the idea of a massive conspiracy. It couldn’t be done now; with the internet and wikileaks, it would be very easy to disprove. In fact, it couldn’t have been done then. There is no way the media would just go along with the stuff that is being fed to it – regardless of how cleverly the leaks appear are done. But what the films shows is how it could almost be possible – and if it could happen, this is how it would go. It’s fabulous, so funny. Wonderful cast, great script. We even got a bit of Woody Harrelson, Kirsten Dunst, William H Macy, Dennis Leary and Willie Nelson. Perfect.

Wag the Dog was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Dustin Hoffman) and Best Writing:Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published (Hilary Henkin and David Mamet)