Monday, October 15, 2012

Vox Lox: Top Ten Tom Cruise Films


I take summers off from writing. Believe me, it's for the best. CST gets a break from Vox vulgarities, and I focus on rejuvenating activities like running, reading, swimming with the kids, the NBA Finals/Draft and chasing skirts. Tbh, I rarely miss my column. Except when something culturally significant happens. Like on June 28, when Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise. Now, typically, celebrity splits never phase me- as long as Kevin Bacon & Kyra Sedgewick stay together- I couldn't care less about Hollywood couples. Until the relationship starts fucking with art, which is exactly what happened when Katie and Tom began dating in 2005...cue Cruise's couch jumping and career decline. See, for nearly two decades before Katie, Tom's cinematic prowess was unmatched. He had a run of films that are so incredibly important to me, I must consider him the most influential actor of my lifetime even if my heart belongs to Ethan Hawke and Eric Stoltz. So when Katie cited "irreconciable differences" four months ago, I felt more reconciliation than my usual indifference. She can finally go back to Dawson (or Pacey?) and Tom can start making movies that matter again. Roll his top ten, please:

10. Jerry Maguire
Hard to believe it's been over fifteen years since Jerry Mafuckinguire; it had mass appeal thanks to Cameron Crowe's script and direction. Some rapid fire questions: Does it feel a bit dated now? Of course. Did I ever buy Cruise's relationship with Zellweger? No, no, no. Is Bob Sugar still one of the great white collar villains in recent history? Yes! Did the catch phrases "Show me the Money" and "You had me at hello" get old after ten minutes? Hell to the yes. Did the Cardinals overpay for Rod Tidwell? Definitely.

9. Cocktail
For a mega-talent like Cruise, it's almost mind-blowing that he never has chemistry with his female lead. Even when he co-starred with his real life wife in Eyes Wide Shut, the love scenes felt manufactured. Unfortunately, Cocktail is no exception and rates with the majority of critics and moviegoers as the worst film in the Cruise cannon. I disagree. Waterfall. Elizabeth Shue. Enough said.

8. All the Right Moves
If Craig T. Nelson isn't cast to play Nickerson, does the sitcom Coach ever air? If the ABC sitcom Coach doesn't exist, do I watch NBC's In the Heat of the Night on Tuesday nights in 1990? If I watch In the Heat of the Night, do I naturally start watching Law & Order which immediately followed Heat? If I start watching Law and Order, do I develop a respect for that soulless, contrived drama that Mrs. ExVox and I could never agree on? If Mrs. ExVox and I start agreeing on shit, do I let her convince me to stop gambling? If I stop gambling, does Vox Lox ever exist? Thank goodness Craig T. Nelson played Coach Nickerson.

7. Top Gun
Top Gun is the story of a man struggling with his sexuality.

6. The Firm
Underrated thriller from the enigmatic Sydney Pollack. Gene Hackman gives a multi-layered, memorable performance but the real crime here is that his name does not appear on the release poster. Cruise had an agreement with Paramount that only his name will show above the movie title.

5. Interview with the Vampire
Cruise has been called a raging lunatic and a controlling misogynist (played out onscreen in Magnolia). Some extremists have even suggested he's actually a robot. But, like the landlady said to George Thorogood, that don't confront me. I support the artist, long as I get my rent, and Cruise pays in full with his chilling portrayal of Lestat.

4. Vanilla Sky
I wrote in Vox 22 that Crowe's adaption is a morality play about a playboy's mortality, and that Cruise's life-changing date with Penelope Cruz before the car wreck that deformed his face reminded me of the vibrant yet forever-unattainable Girl6. But I've since changed my mind. I now consider Vanilla to be a less violent, more romantic, and psychological companion piece to Total Recall. Which reminds me of Sharon Stone in her 80s leotard. And then Arnie clocks her like an RTA driver.

3. Born on the Fourth of July
Sitting in the theatre, this was the first time I realized how powerful a film can be. In 140 minutes, 14-year old Vox became anti-war, fell in love with Kyra Sedgewick, questioned our government, and declared Cruise's depiction of wounded vet Ron Kovic to be the most phenomenal acting since the ancient Greek Thespis of Dionysos invented the damn thing.

2. Rain Man
Cruise's coming out party as a serious thespian. It happens often in Hollywood. Hot young actor gets no respect from critics, then takes on challenging, dramatic role and feeds Variety a shitburger. Also see Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights, Brad Pitt in Fight Club and Ben Affleck in, never mind.

1. Eyes Wide Shut
Readers often ask about my favorite movie scene? Ferris in the art museum? The card game in Training Day (did you ever have your shit pushed in?)? Kelly Leak? No, brah. Here it is. And if should you ever make it up to the mansion, the password is fidelio.

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Today's Play:
Chargers over Broncos, 1 dime
Season: 2-2 (+3 dimes)