Rain Man

 

Rain Man

Written by Barry Morrow & Ronald Bass

Directed by Barry Levinson

1988

 

Cast:

Tom Cruise

Dustin Hoffman

Valeria Golino

Jerry Molen

Barry Levinson

 

Production:

Theatrical: Guber-Peters

Video: MGM Home Entertainment

 

Video:

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: 48.85 GB

Feature Size: 46.31 GB

Avg. Video Bit Rate: 32.00 Mbps

Runtime: 134 minutes

Chapters: 32

Region: All

 

Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

French, Spanish, Italian, German & Russian DTS 5.1

Czech & Polish Dolby Digital 5.1

Hungarian, Japanese & Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0

English Dolby Digital 2.0 (x3)


Subtitles:

English SDH, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai & Turkish

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Director Barry Levinson

• Audio Commentary by Writer Barry Morrow

• Audio Commentary by Writer Ronald Bass

• “The Journey of Rain Man” A Retrospective Documentary (22:07)

• “Lifting the Fog: A Look at the Mysteries of Autism” (20:13) 

• Deleted Scene (2:13)

• Original Theatrical Trailer

 

Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case: BD x 1

Release Date: February 15, 2011



Introduction:

In time for this year’s Oscar presentations at the end of this month, Fox is issuing three past Oscar nominated films: Rain Man is the most recent; it won for Best Picture of 1988.  It also gave Dustin Hoffman his second Oscar (the first was for Kramer vs. Kramer in 1979), and awards for Best Director (Barry Levinson) and Writing (Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow).  Moonstruck (1987) won for Best Actress (Cher) and Supporting Actress (Olympia Dukakis) and for Best Screenplay (John Patrick Shanley).  The oldest of the three, Last Tango in Paris was nominated for Best Actor (Marlon Brando) and Director (Bernardo Bertolucci).  Curiously, Brando won for The Godfather the year previous even though both movies came out the same calendar year Last Tango didn’t qualify until 1973.


     

 

The Score Card

 

The Movie : 8

Rain Man, despite the focus on its unusual hero, is a classic “Road Movie” in the tradition of It Happened One Night, Lolita and The Sure Thing.  “Lolita”! you say? Yes.  In some ways, Rain Man owes more to Lolita than the others in how it looks at off-road America - its road stops, small towns and ordinary people.


Coming of age stories make up a fascinating and popular segment of cinema history over the past few decades – and, in their way, going back to the silent film era (right away, I think of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr.)  While often the subject is sex (Summer of 42 and the previously mentioned The Sure Thing) the tradition also embraces the idea of responsibility – and here we find its most enduring spokesmen in dozens of 1940s movies from the Andy Hardy to It’s a Wonderful Life and Stand By Me.  It is this latter area that Rain Man falls while all the time remaining faithful to road movie traditions of developing character against a backdrop of (usually) mainstream civilization.


     

 

The beginning of the story introduces us to Charlie Babbitt, played by Tom Cruise, an icon of driven self love if there ever was one.  Charlie is a stereotypical yuppie.  He loves fast cars and fast deals. He treats his girlfriend as if she’s not there unless he needs her as an adjunct to forward some nefarious scheme. He is scarcely aware of how fundamentally angry he is (he’s never been otherwise, so how could he compare?) or how that anger translates into pissing all over the people in his life, such as they are. 


Charlie operates a car dealership of sorts, and we do admit he has an abiding interest in cars, classic cars of all ages, like the Lamborghinis that are the cause of his present financial crisis and his father’s 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible that he drove without permission when he was 16.  His dad let him sit in jail for a couple of nights for “stealing his car” - they never spoke after that.  Charlie has always believed that life owes him for whatever recognition he never got from his father.  He figures that getting paid justifies the means.  Considering how much he lives on the other side of the ethical edge it’s amazing he hasn’t spent any more time in jail or had his brains beaten in by someone he cheated.


     


At the moment he has to come up with thousands of dollars, quick, or else.  Opportunity arises when he learns that his wealthy father has died.  He flies off to Cincinnati with his girlfriend to attend the funeral only to earn that his father’s millions have been left in trust to an elder brother he never knew he had.  As dumb luck follows bad, Raymond Babbitt is an “autistic savant” who has spent the years since their mother died when Charlie was three in an institution.  It’s a comfortable place with decent people in direct charge of the patients.  Raymond has never left the place without close supervision, and then for no longer than two hours.


Raymond may have “special gifts,” as his doctor notes to Charlie when he comes to see what this is all about, but what really grabs Charlie’s attention is how ordered Raymond’s environment is and how, if even a book of his is touched, Raymond starts pacing and muttering.  But Charlie’s interest is really only in how he can get his hands on half (that being what he feel he deserves) of Charlie’s 3.5 million dollars.


     


Charlie is good at making things up as he goes along, and so conceives of a vague plan to disinherit his brother by transporting him to L.A. (where Charlie lives) and somehow find a way to obtain custody.


As Charlie sees it, his brother is a social idiot, requiring a great deal of attention like a newborn or a puppy, unable to go anywhere by himself without getting into some kind of trouble.  Charlie, against his “natural” inclination to see everything in terms of his own advancement, has to see to Raymond’s every need if he is to get his older brother to go along with him, no matter how bizarre (such as finding him a TV every day to watch Judge Wapner at the appointed time).  The irony is that Charlie learns about responsibility for another person despite himself while traveling across the country in the Buick his father so cynically left to him. During the trip Charlie is slow to see the financial potential of Raymond’s genius with patterns, numbers and memory, which is a good thing since it allows time for Charlie to develop true caring feelings.


     

 

Image : 8/8

Rain Man has never looked better on this new Fox Blu-ray.  Despite pervasive medium grain the image is solid and pleasing, more so, I thought projected on a large screen than at close range on a computer, though not remarkably sharp.  Contrast and color remains faithful to the original and is fairly consistent throughout.

 

Audio & Music : 6/8

Hoffman’s quirky line readings, as befits his character, are always clear regardless of the scene or overlapping effects and music, especially once he arrives in Vegas.  The music – vintage and current – opens up the sound and makes use of the surrounds and some of the dynamic potential of DTS-HD MA.


     

 

Extras : 7

We’ve seen these extra features before on the 2004 SE DVD, but this isn’t a bad thing – unless you count that the two featurettes remain in 480i.  We still have the three commentaries (from the director, the writer of the original story and the screenwriter), each from different, though overlapping points of view.  The 22-minute “Journey of Rain Man” is Levinson’s production diary, while the 20-minute documentary on autism is a good, if now somewhat dated, introduction to the condition.

 

Recommendation : 8

Rain Man is nothing if not entertaining thanks largely to efforts and charisma of its two stars, Hoffman and Cruise.  The actors are a generation apart, but are always on the same page in their tug of war that is the story of Rain Man.  Hoffman’s performance, in part because it is so brilliant, remains outside the rest of the film, as does his character.  Cruise is at his best when he he is dismissive of his brother’s relentless primitive compulsions. But as I noted in my lead in, Rain Man is also an effective, charming and slippery story of how two brothers learn to give something they never have before, nor thought themselves capable, I imagine.  It’s not all a bed of roses, even by the end which is more realistic than the episode in Vegas portends. Points, too, for Fox’s high definition transfer.  Warmly recommended.


     

 

 

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

March 2, 2011


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