WHEN: 11:03am EST, April 27th, 2012
WHERE: My apartment in Portland, ME (Isla Nublar)
FORMAT: Blu-Ray on a Vizio 32″ LED HDTV
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STATE: In underwear, full of breakfast burritos, sleepy-ish
FOCUS OF THIS WEEK’S STUDY: Would Adam Baldwin Think That Michael Caine Would Think That Tom Cruise is a Brilliant Actor From His Performance in Top Gun?
REACTIONS OF NOTE:
- Hey, Tom Cruise blinked! (Repeat as necessary.)
- Whoa, the Navy jumbo jet that Carole gets off of is numbered 114, just like Maverick and Goose’s plane. Symbolism.
- I beatboxed over “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” at the end.
While I wrote up my week #16 results, I put on Serenity with director and cast commentary for some nice ambient background noise. As I typed, I heard Joss Whedon mention Michael Caine’s description of great acting as being outwardly placid. Adam Baldwin chimes in (at 00:13:14) with: “I thought he said, ‘Don’t blink.'”
Whether or not Michael Caine actually said that or if the nutty knuckleknobs behind Firefly agree, I decided to find out if Tom Cruise is a great actor.
By counting how many times he blinks in Top Gun.
The final tally: 469 blinks.
If you come to this site for graphs, here’s a graph!
I think that puts it all in perspective.
What, you want math? That’s an average of 4.26 blinks per minute.
Now, you may come up with a different number when you inevitably try this for yourself. I was counting on the fly, during my mandatory weekly viewing for Science, so no pauses or rewinds. I often just started counting aloud and added it the tally once Tom Cruise wasn’t on the screen any more. Also… Tom Cruise has shifty eyes. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if he was blinking or darting his eyes around. Or his eyebrows. Tom Cruise can dart his eyebrows.
On top of the already Herculean task of blink-counting, I tried to scribble in the margins if any blink frequency changes struck me as significant to Maverick’s arc.
BLINKS OF NOTE:
- During the opening MiG encounter, 4 blinks. Maverick is in control.
- In Stinger’s office, 21 blinks. Maverick does not fear death, but he seems to fear authority.
- When Jester is briefing the new class for the first time, Maverick looks over at Iceman and blinks 5 times. I believe Blinking Scientists can confirm that as a “batting” of the eyes.
- Maverick closes his eyes twice while singing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” to Charlie. Particularly interesting that the song opens with “You never close your eyes.”
- While talking to Charlie for the first time, 20 blinks.
- While in Viper’s office, approximately 28 blinks.
- An impressive 33 blinks while talking about his parents. Blinking = emotion?
- Only 4 blinks in the elevator with Charlie. Is he trying to portray a sudden swell of confidence? Probably. He’s a professional.
- Whoa. I don’t even need numbers here. Maverick is mostly calm and in control of his eyelids, both in the air and on the ground. Once Goose dies? He’s a goddamned blinking machine. 5 blinks boxing up Goose’s stuff, 7 blinks during his flight status hearing, 14 blinks during his first hop after Goose’s death (easily the most of any hop), and brace yourself for this: over 58 blinks while Charlie tries to get him back in the air. This can’t be a coincidence; Cruise has tapped into that universal human need to soak the eyeballs in times of stress.
- During the final encounter, he’s back to the alert, wide-eyed Maverick from the beginning. But 2 blinks for Iceman at the end.
I also wondered how much of the blink count was not the work of Tom Cruise, but the editors. Cruise rarely blinks in close-up, but in a wide shot, he’s flapping away. If he is blinking while filling up the screen, he’s probably sad. I definitely see a correlation.
So, thank you for the inspiration, Adam Baldwin.
And thank you, Michael Caine, for… this? Is this what they were talking about?
Well, I’ll keep that in mind the next time I watch Jaws: The Revenge.