Anyone willing to fly a suicide mission is insane, but anyone who refuses to do it is sane enough to realise they’d be insane to fly. In a nutshell, that is Catch-22. The remarkable writing and character studies surrounding that nugget of wisdom in the Joseph Heller novel are fascinating dives into the weak minds and strong hearts of those who plod through life during wartime. Adapting that paradox to the screen provides Mike Nichols and Alan Arkin with their very own Catch-22 scenario. A solution denied by the rule. To get to grips with the characters they must drag themselves through the throes of the Second World War, but to do that they must heave themselves into the heart of the characters.
While it isn’t wholly obvious because of where Runaway Train goes, the feature film based on a script from legendary director Akira Kurosawa tries to reflect this merit frequently. Andrei Konchalovsky does not direct his piece with that in mind but certainly considers it thoroughly. Welded into a cell and finally released, Oscar Manheim (Jon Voight) and his young, starry-eyed protégé, Buck (Eric Roberts), escape for the heist of a lifetime. But what are we to do with characters this crazed? They are chewing the scenery set before them and lingering all too often on the hypermasculinity and bromance between them. Animosity and tension, grease and sweat, it’s all there for Manheim and Buck, but what for?
Taking the right course of action, the road that leads to moral and personal justification is the road most travelled in Hollywood. Time and time again, producers offer the story of someone that perseveres through all the odds to see that justice is served. More often than not, we as an audience merely hope such goodness happens in reality when we also know that it is far from the truth. The Rainmaker, then, is one such film. It is filled with bad people, but those few good eggs that shine through like diamonds in the rough are trying to make the world a better place.
I think it goes without saying that you should never canoe through dangerous waters. Whether or not that danger is the water itself or the inhabitants that surround the water, you’re best off just staying away from small bodies of water. That does include rivers, bathtubs, oceans and water bottles, but unlike the leading group we find ourselves saddled with in Deliverance, I don’t like to take chances. Deliverance looks to showcase the disasters at hand when four friends decide to take a weekend break traversing a small river that will soon cease to be when a dam is built, cutting off the water supply and thus making the river completely dry.