****/**** Image B+ Sound B Extras B+
starring Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Jerry Molen
screenplay by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow
directed by Barry Levinson
by Alex Jackson From its opening shot of a Cadillac craned across the smoggy Los Angeles skyline as The Belle Stars' iconic cover of "Iko Iko" plays on the soundtrack, Barry Levinson's Rain Man announces itself as one of the very best films of the 1980s. The ultimate high-concept movie, it has a fashionably icy Adrian Lynne/Michael Mann/Ridley Scott aesthetic that's semi-parodied by way of an absurdist, non-sequitur twist. Pauline Kael called Rain Man "a piece of wet kitsch" while paradoxically impugning its "lifelessness." In terms of content, it certainly sounds like sugary glurge, but as rendered in the emotionally-detached lexicon of '80s advertising, all the irony, all the junkiness, has been bled out. The film equates Yuppie materialism with autism, and in a subtle, underhanded way, this humanizes the alien while undermining the film's own pretension. Once we see this hip disengagement in terms of pathology, we're no longer attracted and/or repulsed by it.