Frank's Faves: Movie downpours

Frank's Faves: Movie downpours

"I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in and stops my mind from wandering where it will go ..." — The Beatles

Hi, everybody! Sorry we missed each other last week while I was on vacation. I sure could have used a few of you out in my garage during the latter part of my time off while embarking on the greatest downsizing project since the fall of the Roman Empire.

Remember the closing shot of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" with those kazillions of crates in an endless government warehouse? If so, you've got a pretty fair mental image of the spring-cleaning task that awaited me over my two weeks off from work. Seemingly thousands (although more like scores) of boxes to be opened and gone through, stuff sorted, places found for what's staying and decisions made on what's not.

Did I get it done? Are you kidding? I barely finished the opening preparations for starting this monster operation. But hey, as far as completing those opening preparations for starting, I knocked it out of the park. We are so ready to get started downsizing like you wouldn't believe. And when will that be? Ummm, next vacation, maybe?

Oh, don't worry; my break from work wasn't all work. There was some fun stuff during my vacation as well, although it took nearly as much perseverance to pull off — largely because Mother Nature herself seemed out to do us in. Or under.

Turns out, that "multi-vehicle, intergenerational interstate expedition" of a family vacation I mentioned in my last column was for three days and nights in a secluded retreat-style lodge in the Louisville area of beautiful northern Kentucky. Good thing the accommodations were nice, because we got to spend a lot of time in them, seeing as the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto decided to visit the area right about the same time and hung around to keep everyone and everything well-drenched for pretty much all of our stay. Talk about an ugly tourist (Alberto, that is; not me).

And of course, the two weeks ended with last Sunday's tornado sightings, high-wind damage and flash flooding across this area — all while I was on the road between here and Lincoln, with my teenage granddaughter Victoria at the wheel, to get together with my dad and his company, including my aunt and uncle from Texas.

Do I think the weather has it in for me? Nah, no more than it does for any and all of us. Who hasn't been caught in a downpour at the most inopportune, totally exposed moment? Or had their vacation plans, big game, wedding reception, family reunion, romantic picnic or, yes, even their parade not just rained upon, but outright drowned out?

In fact, it happens so often and with such untimely predictability, that the classic sudden torrential cloudburst has become practically a staple of movies (where it's never a light drizzle, after all). And before anyone's hand shoots up in the back of the room, yes, you might recall I gave you my favorite rainy-day movies a couple of years ago, and some of those certainly rate this list — like "Singin' in the Rain," "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Blade Runner."

But rather than stomp in the same puddle twice, let's limit this list to movies where the rainfall's timing is as significant as its effect. So, if you, like me, take some secret, slightly perverse pleasure in watching other people get caught out in the open when heaven (or Hollywood) throws open its floodgates — all from the nice, dry comfort of your living-room sofa — pop open your umbrella and keep your eyes and ears open as conditions develop for:


— "The Matrix Revolutions" (2003). Keanu Reeves as Neo wages his final showdown with an army of rogue Agent Smiths (all played by Hugo Weaving) amid a climactic rooftop downpour made all the more visually and technically impressive by the heavy rain cascading and ricocheting everywhere throughout the fight. Considering that the world of the Matrix is a computer simulation, so, too, is this "bullet-time" super shower, but that doesn't make it any less wicked to watch.

— "The Truman Show" (1998). Jim Carrey as the unwitting subject of the title reality program becomes the target of a suspiciously specific rainstorm while sitting alone on a beach contemplating his life. When he moves a couple steps away, the stream of rain follows him — to his delight — until it finally becomes a beachwide deluge. It's played for laughs, of course, but also proves a pivotal moment in Truman's ultimate self-discovery and decision.

— "Castaway" (2000). There's plenty of drenching rains in this shipwreck survival epic from director Ron Howard, but the most devastating one to befall poor Tom Hanks has to be the one at the end when he finally makes it back to Helen Hunt, only to discover that she'd been told he was dead and had since married and moved on. Nothing adds metaphorical misery to a scene of lost love like driving precipitation. At least Hanks and Hunt have the good sense to move their bittersweet driveway reunion inside his car for at least its last couple minutes — but only after they're completely soaked. Of course, no one said either of these star-crossed characters were blessed with good timing.

— "Tombstone" (1993). I've said here before that this is quite possibly my favorite movie western of all time, and it, too, features a classic downpour scene or two, particularly when Wyatt Earp's brothers Virgil (Sam Elliott) and Morgan (Bill Paxton) are ambushed and shot during just such weather conditions. But this fave also contains my favorite rainstorm blooper in the climactic shot where Kurt Russell as Wyatt stumbles grief-stricken out into the middle of the street after Morgan's death amid a monsoon-like rainstorm. Trouble is, as the camera pans around our devastated hero, we can clearly see that it is only raining within about 50 feet or so of him. The far side of the street in which he is standing remains dry throughout the shot, thus briefly turning a heart-breaking scene in an otherwise Oscar-caliber shoot-em-up into "The Truman Show: Live from the O.K. Corral." Or to parody Russell's best line from the film: "You tell 'em I'm coming ... and rain's coming with me!"

— "The Passion of the Christ" (2004). The most powerful visual image in this otherwise visually excruciating film is the one that occurs just after Jim Caviezel as Jesus breathes his last upon the cross and bows his head in death. Our perspective of the scene switches to aerial — and that of a single, silent rain drop at the instant it falls from heaven over this tragic spectacle and makes an almost meteoric landfall at the foot of the cross, preceding an epic windstorm and temple-rending earthquake. Jesus wept? He had nothing on his Father ...

Topics (2):Film, Television