Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

Rocks In The Attic #773: Lorne Balfe – ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout (O.S.T.)’ (2018)

RITA#773Mission: Impossible films shouldn’t be this good.

The series felt like it started off as a ‘90s vanity project for Tom Cruise, unforgivably doing away with the IMF team of the TV series in the film’s first act. But it was directed by a very-much-still-in-the-game Brian De Palma, and the supporting cast – Jon Voight, Emanuelle Béart, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas and Vanessa Redgrave – elevated the film to being far more than just another Tom Cruise flick.

Then the second one came along in 2000 – arguably the only duffer of the series. Again, it was a superstar director – John Woo – behind the camera. Despite the misstep in tone, it’s RITA#773aa good thing they pushed on. The third film in 2006 – directed by J.J. Abrams – put the series back on course, before the peak of the franchise came with Brad Bird’s Ghost Protocol in 2011. Christopher McQuarrie’s Rogue Nation arrived in 2015, before the same director helmed Fallout last year. 

Six films, five directors – De Palma, Woo, Abrams, Bird, McQuarrie (only McQuarrie has directed two). Six films, five composers – Elfman, Zimmer, Giacchino, Joe Kraemer and Lorne Balfe (only Giacchino scored two). It would be easy to put the strength of the sequels down to the ever-changing writers and directors, working together to keep the franchise fresh and ever-changing, but lots of long-running film series have a revolving door of writers and directors.

The answer has to be in the Cruiser’s role as producer – the only constant throughout the whole run. It’s a testament to Cruise and his production team that they’ve managed to maintain such a high standard, given the usual decline in quality of Hollywood sequels.

Fallout was probably my favourite action film of 2018. The bathroom brawl sequence was undoubtedly my favourite action scene of the year – just an unbelievably brutal scene, and all credit must go the stuntmen and choreographers who brought it to life.

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As a lifelong Bond fan, I’m always well-attuned to the occasional franchise coming along and overshadowing 007. We had it with the Bourne films, and it’s now happening with the Mission: Impossible films. ‘Bond is finished,’ people will say on social media, completely oblivious to the fact that the Bond films are now as strong as they ever were in terms of appeal and Box Office. It’s a simple solution: the cinemas can accommodate both. The Mission: Impossible films are not better or worse than the Bonds, they’re just different. May they continue for a long time.

Hit: Mission: Accomplished

Hidden Gem: The Exchange

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Rocks In The Attic #525: Various Artists – ‘Cocktail (O.S.T.)’ (1988)

rita525God, I miss the shameful optimism of 1980s mainstream American cinema. Yes, it was soulless (at times) and offered little in the way of substance (again, at times), but I really have a deep feeling of nostalgia for helicopter tracking shots of American cities, soundtracked by the likes of Starship’s Wild Again. Throw a bit of neon in there, and a glimpse of bikini, and I’m hooked.

I’m a child of the 1980s so America has always felt like the centre of the universe – it still is – and the main driver of that image was American cinema. Cocktail, albeit directed by a New Zealander (Roger Donaldson), is a typical example. It may not be the greatest film in the world – it’s far from it – but I’d happily watch it again right now.

I would have been very aware of who Tom Cruise was in 1988, but it might have been the first time I saw Elisabeth Shue and Bryan Brown; a couple of actors I’ve always admired. Shue appeared as the love interest in The Karate Kid (1984) and as the lead in Adventures In Babysitting (1987), but Cocktail would definitely be the first time I’d seen her in an adult role.

One of my favourite moments from Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho is when our anti-hero Patrick Bateman shares an elevator with Tom Cruise, who lives in the same apartment block:

The film actor, Tom Cruise, has an apartment in my building and steps into the elevator just after me. I press the “PH” button for him and he nods his thanks. He is wearing a sport coat from Ralph Lauren over a tshirt, also Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein Jeans and Ray Bans and is very short.
‘I really liked
Bartender“, I say to him.
‘Cocktail.’
‘What?’
‘The movie is called
Cocktail.’
‘Oh, right, of course.’
We turn away from each other as the elevator hums along. Then, he slowly turns towards me.
‘Your nose is bleeding,’ he tells me.
I hadn’t noticed it, although it is bleeding heavily and I reach for my pocket square by Bill Blass as we arrive at my floor. As I step into the hallway, covering my nose with the handkerchief, I hear Tom Cruise stabbing frantically at the ‘Close Door’ button.

Hit: Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin

Hidden Gem: Powerful Stuff – The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Rocks In The Attic #507: Prince – ‘Prince’ (1979)

RITA#5072016 has been a terrible year for celebrity deaths, particularly those from music, films and television. The year started off tainted by the death of Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister just a few days before New Year. Then things started to go crazy with David Bowie dying suddenly on the tenth of January. Following him, we’ve also seen the passing of Eagle Glenn Frey, Beatles producer George Martin, Keith Emerson, Merle Haggard, Elvis’ guitarist Scotty Moore, and many, many more.

Losing Bowie was bad enough, but any year where we lose somebody as iconic as him, plus Prince, plus Muhammad Ali is just plain crazy. It’s like the icons of the late twentieth century are falling off the planet. I’m half expecting a plane carrying Madonna, Tom Cruise and Bruce Springsteen to crash into the Hollywood sign, while Los Angeles succumbs to a devastating earthquake.

Prince’s death seemed to hit a little closer to home, only because he had just played in Auckland a few weeks earlier as part of his Piano And Microphone tour. I would have loved to see Prince, backed by a full band but I didn’t really like the idea of seeing him play unaccompanied. There’s a part of me that regrets not chasing down a ticket, just because it was my last chance to see him perform, but with his passing I’m even more glad that I didn’t go – I like to think that my seat went to a more deserving fan.

I can take or leave Prince. His Batman soundtrack was the first album I ever owned, and I like a good deal of his big hits; I just don’t like all the Sexy Motherf*cker bullshit that he descended to in the early nineties. His contractual dispute with Warner Brothers around that time – leading to him changing his name to the symbol and writing ‘Slave’ on his cheek also turned me off him. All of a sudden, just as I was getting into music in a big way, he didn’t seem to be about the music anymore.

His Greatest Hits album is superb though, and the song off that record I’ve always liked the best is the opening number I Wanna Be Your Lover, taken from this, his self-titled second album. The recent repressing of his back catalogue on vinyl has given me the opportunity to buy the album (I’ve never seen an original pressing in the wild), and it’s a great record.

The album version of I Wanna Be Your Lover sounds even better, being a few minutes longer than the single edit available on his Greatest Hits, and the other singles from the record are all worthy additions to his canon. I can’t remember the last time I liked a record so much from start to finish.

What’s not to like? All the upbeat songs are of a similar quality to I Wanna Be Your Lover, and the slower ballads don’t grate as much as some of the soppier ballads from later in his career. I might put my toe further in the purple water, and try out some of his other records now that they’re widely available again.

Hit: I Wanna Be Your Lover

Hidden Gem: Bambi