Alex Stephenson THE MACGUFFIN MEN: Movie Morality

About halfway through watching any given movie at home, a particular thought goes through my head. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen the movie I’m watching, or if I am watching the movie for the first time. Invariably, I’ll end up asking myself the same question, regardless of the situation: is this the last time I’ll ever watch this movie?

As I was watching The Color of Money recently, I came to the conclusion that I was about as sure as I can be that I will never watch this movie again. Barring James and I doing a really extensive Martin Scorsese, Paul Newman or Tom Cruise podcast, I will never have a reason to watch it as ‘research,’ as the movie wouldn’t rank as one of the most interesting works in any of those filmographies. I suppose if we do a retrospective of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s career I’ll have to watch it again, but that’s the only reason I would watch a movie again that I don’t particularly care about either way. This isn’t exactly a movie you suggest to a friend, and it certainly isn’t one you try to get a girlfriend to watch. Thematically, the movie isn’t particularly interesting; the Iggy Pop cameo is not a commentary on Reaganomics. It’s just a very watchable movie starring very watchable actors.

I had seen The Color of Money once before, about six or seven years ago when I was becoming the Paul Newman superfan I am now, and I didn’t exactly love it. I had been wanting to watch it again, however, and I found that pretty much everything I thought then, I still feel now. It’s an entertaining, but mostly forgettable, movie that can basically be boiled down to a sort of ‘Rounders, but instead they play pool and Knish has a way bigger role.’ Or Martin Landau’s character, I suppose. A mix of both. Whatever.

The problem with realizing this was that, while I didn’t care much for the movie, there were a number of moments that I loved. This movie has some really unique cinematography, particularly in the pool scenes (and I don’t mean unique in a ‘he really loves collecting snap bracelets’ sort of way). Paul Newman is predictably enjoyable, and Tom Cruise is actually kind of great, particularly in the Werewolves of London scene. Cruise’s character is so over the top that his performance is essentially the personification of Christopher Walken (as Bruce Dickinson) saying, “Cock of the walk, baby!” And Cruise nails it.

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