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Showing posts from June, 2012

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #387: Rain Man

For better or for worse, “Rain Man” is the film that introduced autism to pop culture. Dustin Hoffman’s dedicated performance as Raymond Babbitt, an idiot savant, has been referenced in television shows, movies, and even a Ricky Gervais monologue. The performance earned him an Academy Award, but special mention should also go to Tom Cruise for playing a character that begins as a greedy opportunist and evolves into a caring individual. It seems unlikely Hoffman and Cruise could play brothers, but the scene in Las Vegas when they dance together greatly helps to suspend your disbelief.
This movie was a rental from about seven years ago at my mom’s suggestion. She had seen it; I am guessing back when it first came out in 1988, and fondly described the story and Hoffman’s performance.  I guess anybody who was alive in the 80s saw that performance as part of that era’s pop culture. Since I was born in the 80s and didn’t exactly feel like watching that movie when I was two years old, renti…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List - #389: Election

Alexander Payne’s 1999 comedy “Election” tells the story of three candidates competing for the office of president. One is a young woman with a giant ego who believes it is her destiny to join the ranks of great politicians. The second is a na├»ve but well-meaning man who was persuaded to run just to stop the first candidate. The third candidate is running as a joke to denounce the electoral process. All of these potential candidates could be real-life politicians, except for the fact they are running for office at a high school in Omaha, Nebraska.
When I first saw the movie playing on TV in 2000 I didn’t really care about elections, high school or otherwise. I was studying in a high school in Peru, but couldn’t care less about who was high school president. As far as political elections, I was living in one of the most corrupt countries on Earth, and I had just witnessed the American charade of Bush vs. Gore. Yet today, after having voted a few times for both Canadian provincial and…

Empire Magazine Greatest Movies List: #393 - Garden State

A hit of the early 2000’s, “Garden State” is one of those small films that was shot on a small budget, earned tremendous buzz at film festivals, and then grew a loyal audience through word of mouth. Written, directed, and starring Zach Braff, it tells the story of a man in his twenties who is stuck doing small jobs and with no idea of where to go next with his life. Either you have met people like this, or you are that person.
When I first saw “Garden State” it was a bit of a surprise to see Zach Braff a character that is so emotionally numb. I was used to seeing him do physical comedy as John Dorian on the show “Scrubs” where he played an aspiring doctor who would come always come into work with a smile on his face, despite the fact his mentor always called him “Bambi.” Yet the ads boasted his performance and his directing style, highlighting a scene where Zach’s character is standing in front of a wall while wearing a shirt that matches the wall’s tapestry. So when the movie start…