Friday, June 25, 2010

Fricassee Five Friday: Tom Cruise

Spiced Just Right




Magnolia

A guy jumps on a couch once and the people instantly forget that he has the ability to deliver great performances. So for those who think Cruise is all big budget fluff and tabloid fodder let me bring your attention to one of my favourite characters, Frank T.J. MacKey, in my all-time favourite movie. Though Cruise was nominated for an Oscar, for best supporting, he lost out to Michael Caine’s work in The Cider House Rules. Personally I think Cruise’s performance will be the one out of the two that most people will remember in ten years.


Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire and Collateral provided Cruise the opportunity to play the villain; something he should do more of. While I like Collateral slightly more than this film, Cruise had to overcome much more adversity here. It cannot be easy for an actor when the author of the novel being adapting, in this case Anne Rice, publicly slams you for being cast in the lead role. Luckily Tom got the last laugh as Rice had to eat some humble pie and acknowledge that he was fantastic in the role.


Top Gun

Part of me wanted to include The Firm, or “See Tom Run” as I like to call it, on this list as I really liked that film. Any movie that makes Tom Cruise deathly afraid of the Quaker Oats pitchman, aka Wilford Brimely, deserves the token guilty pleasure spot on the list. Still if I had to choose between The Firm and the pure popcorn fun that is Top Gun, it will be fighter jets all the way. Cocky and arrogant characters fit Tom well, see Jerry Maguire, Collateral, and Magnolia for further examples of this.


The Last Samurai

Yes this film is in the same “white savior” vein of Dances with Wolves, Avatar, and countless other movies of its ilk. Regardless, I really like this film. Many of the movie’s best moments come from the interactions between Ken Wantanabe and Cruise’s character. Tom’s samurai may not have been as cool as Toshirô Mifune’s or Forest Whitaker’s, but he did a good job nonetheless.


Minority Report

The reason films such as A Few Good Men, Rain Man, The Outsiders, and Jerry Maguire did not make the list is due to the fact that Cruise’s supporting casts are the real stars of the show. Chances are your fondest memories of those films are scenes involving NichoIson, Hoffman, Howell, and Gooding Jr. The same thing almost happens in Minority Report as Samantha Morton gives her usual great performance. Though, at the end of the day, it is the pairing of Cruise and Spielberg that keep this film moving a top speed. I still think Minority Report runs twenty minutes too long but otherwise I enjoyed Cruise first real foray into the world of Science Fiction.



Layoff the Cheese



Vanilla Sky

Considering that I am a big fan of the original film, Abre Los Ojos, my views might be a bit biased. Honestly I had no problem with Cruise in this movie. What ruined this picture for me was Cameron Crowe’s need to over explain things instead of letting the audience figure things out for themselves. It was as if Crowe, or maybe the studio, had no faith in the audience’s intelligence.


Far and Away

Reason # 45 why spouses should not work together! I could have easily substituted Days of Thunder in here as I was not fond of that film either. Far and Away was by far the worst of the two films. The interesting thing is Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman have no on screen chemistry whatsoever. What about Eyes Wide Shut you say? Well the majority of that film is about Cruise’s solo journey. The times they are together on screen, Kidman is the one doing all the heavy lifting.


Mission Impossible II

I literally walked out of the theater at the end of the film unable to remember on significant thing that happened in this movie. MI2 felt like an extremely watered down version of a John Woo film, and that is saying a lot if you consider that Hard Target and Broken Arrow were more entertaining than this film.


Legend

As I commented on another blog’s review of this film, I always think of Ladyhawk whenever someone talks about this film. I think deep down I wish Legend was more Ladyhawk and less…well…Legend. Somewhere Matthew Broderick is pumping his fist victoriously.


War of the Worlds

Remember when I praised the Cruise/Spielberg pairing a few minutes ago…well here is where things get tricky. The first half of this film is actually pretty good. One of my favourite scenes comes when the frantic mob tries to steal Tom’s car not realizing, or caring, that his daughter is still in there. Unfortunately the rest of the film never lives up to the atmosphere that the beginning sets up. I won’t even get into how the Boston elite somehow avoid a world-wide catastrophe!

13 comments:

  1. Interview With the Vampire is one of my favourite films. He was so great in that. I did actually fancy Tom Cruise before I turned gay!

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  2. @Sarah – He really stepped up his game with Interview. Great performance all around.

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  3. Hands down Magnolia is my favourite (and one of my favourite films as well). I just had a back and forth in the comment section with Flecth at Blog Cabins who said Magnolia was depressing while Boogie Nights was hilarious and had a rendeptive final and I thought to myself, Boogie Nights, a redemptive finale? I think Boogie Nights ends in tragedy, while Magnolia provides the true redepmtion. No matter. I also love Eyes Wide Shut.

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  4. @Mike – I am not sure I would agree with Fletch in regards to Boogie Nights’ finale being redemptive. I think all the characters go through such a dark period that the ending leads you to believe they are slowly working their way back to normal life...or at least normal by porn industry standards. Magnolia on the other offers a more optimistic ending. Many of the characters have been cleansed of their sins so to speak and are now trying to move forward in a new phase of their life.

    As for Eyes Wide Shut, I think the film goes off the rails a bit after the orgy scene. I did not quite buy the whole “we knew it was you all along” explanation they offered up to Cruise’s character regarding the stuff that happens in the latter half of the film. Really enjoyed the first half though, Kidman was stellar.

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  5. oh, tom cruise! what a coincidence! ;)

    my choices would be (completely different):
    1. eyes wide shut
    2. magnolia
    3. rain man
    4. jerry maguire
    5. the couch jumping!

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  6. @Miss Topanga - A very good list indeed. If it was not for the Katie Holmes aspect I would have ranked couch jumping much higher. :) I can see someone jumping on a couch for Mimi Rogers, Nicole Kidman, or Penelope Cruz...but Katie Holmes??? To each his own I guess.

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  7. I like the 'Last Samurai' pick. Clever one.

    I have to disagree about the 'War of the Worlds' pick. I think he played that well tremendously well and overall the film was more than satisfying. The sequence taking place in Tim Robbins' bunker is one of the best things about that movie.

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  8. @Edgar - Funny you should mention the Tim Robbins scene. I think this is where our differences about this film arise. I found that the film starts to falter once they hit Robbins’ house. I guess I thought that the earlier scenes in the movie conveyed the overall paranoia, and disturbed aspects, of the human condition better. Cruise does what he has to do to protect his family, but the film immediately bounces back to mindless summer fare. The Robbins part, which is supposed to be the darkest moment in the whole picture, is merely a brief footnote when all is said and done.

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  9. Great choice for a feature. I agree, Tom Cruise has been panned and criticized a lot for being a star, even though he has to his credit a number of memorable acting jobs in offbeat films too.

    Thus for every blockbuster like Top Gun and the Mission Impossible films and War of the Worlds, he also has such performances in his resume as those in Magnolia, Minority Report, Eyes Wide Shut, Collateral, Vanilla Sky, etc.

    He may not be the best actor of his generation, but that doesn't mean he hasn't done some really good and praiseworthy work.

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  10. And not to forget, Rain Man, though that mostly belonged to Dustin Hoffman.

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  11. @Shubhajit – Yep Cruise does take a lot of abuse for being a big budget star. Though he has had far more hits than misses. I think his off screen antics get in the way of how people view him as an actor.

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  12. Gotta agree with Sarah, Interview was definitely my favorite role of his. It helps that I read and loved the book before the movie. But as an admitted Anne Rice fan (even though, yes, she's a psycho bitch), I'll be the first to say he NAILED the character. To the teeth. And I'll stop with the vampire puns. It's a shame Tom Cruise is so fucking off his rocker, because he's actually a good actor.

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  13. Wow. An article mentioning 10 films of his, and several others as "by the ways", and 12 comments, and not one person mentioned Born on the Fourth of July.

    I consider this to be both Cruise's best film, and his best performance in a film. The movie pretty much IS Tom Cruise. Even Willem Dafoe can't take the spotlight off him for the few minutes both are on screen.

    The real Ron Kovic was so moved by Cruise's performance that he gave him his own Bronze Star medal from the Vietnam War.

    Cruise had shown flashes in The Color of Money and Rainman, but this was the movie that made me sit up and say "Tom Cruise can ACT."

    He lost the Oscar to Daniel Day-Lewis, who played an even more physically handicapped person than Cruise did. (And was brilliant in My Left Foot - credit where credit is due.)

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