THE WEEKEND READ: Our Saturday essay on the great topics in entertainment and culture today.
Last weekend, as Toshi was cruising the Blu-ray shelves for new movies to start asking about, he pulled "Rain Man" on a shelf and considered the cover for a moment before he turned to me, excited. "You didn't tell me Tom Cruise made a superhero movie!"
I can only assume his eventual disappointment might be tempered by the fact that "Rain Man" is a pretty good movie. It had been a while since I'd seen it, though, and after they went back to their mom's house, I put it in to watch it. I remember when it came out being right in the midst of my first time watching a lot of classic filmographies, and more than anything, I enjoyed the film as a match-up between Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Looking at the film, now, I'm amazed how much things seem to have changed in the past 26 years, both in society and in how we handle stories about the autistic in film and television. "Rain Man" still has someone use the phrase "idiot savant" as a medical term, which I'm pretty sure no doctor on Earth would do at this point, and "Rain Man" also still has a bit of the "oh my gosh they have magical powers!" school of thought to it. It is a well-intentioned film, but one that definitely serves as a signpost for where a conversation was, and how far we've come in the quarter-century since it was released.