Shaking the core of culture is no easy task. Few will ever do it, and those that do are risking obscurity by changing the fold of the narrative or experience so thoroughly. Breakfast at Tiffany’s plays like a regular old romantic comedy, but soon that behind-the-scenes magic turns it and us on our heads. Spawning a new look for leading ladies and an Academy Award-winning song is no small feat, yet director Blake Edwards and Audrey Hepburn team to make for a finely tuned romantic comedy that doesn’t have much going for its story. But such is the star power of these familiar faces. It gets Breakfast at Tiffany’s into a circle of culturally recognised titans, even though its quality is questionable.
Big names do not equate to big results. Duds are few and far between the filmography of Steven Spielberg. The appeal of working with the man that made Jaws was far too alluring for the likes of Christopher Lee, Toshirō Mifune and Warren Oates, all of whom appear alongside Saturday Night Live alumni Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. A weird and odd ensemble indeed, but it is what Spielberg does with them, or the lack of what he does within 1941 that is most concerning of all. With so much talent on display, nobody is inevitably going to get their fair share of screen time. At the very least, though, there is an expectation of quality from those involved. It is hard to provide quality when the actors do not gel with the content.
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.
“Man, I love fights man” is not just a piece of early dialogue but is the essential core of Rumble Fish. The Francis Ford Coppola piece is engaged with a group of gentlemen who love to knock one another senseless. Rusty James (Dillon) misses the glory days of gang warfare. He wishes to live up to the expectations many have of him, especially those that compare him, rather unfairly, to his brother. That legendary status has not passed on to the younger sibling, but he is trying his hardest to capture that lightning in a bottle effect. It is hard to like James, his smug attitude and self-assured smugness are grating and eternally obnoxious. But it is the fallout of his missing brother, Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke) that establishes this, and also the lack of law and order among these newly warring street gangs.
There’s something rather admirable about how alcohol can loosen the system up. Back when I was trying to break into writing consistently, I’d have a couple drinks to think outside the box. A few vodkas here, a couple cans there, it was pretty grim upon reflection, and the cash I could’ve saved on booze and greasy burgers is an embarrassing admission of just how poor my money management skills were. Still, the quality was there and I truly believed alcohol was the key to unlocking some form of potential. Again, reflecting on this, it’s just not true, and it’s why I’m so interested in Barfly. A late 80s piece, deep-fried in neon lighting and grim interiors, with Mickey Rourke playing downtrodden writer Henry Chinaski.