Friday, July 21, 2006

Film Fave #3: Raising Arizona

Number three is a particularly difficult choice for me – I could do a top ten Coen Brothers Films list (hmm – note to self...). In a list like that, I'm not sure which would come out on top. Since I have room for only one Coen Brothers title, I'll go with the first movie of theirs that I saw on the big screen: Raising Arizona.

Nicholas Cage's performance as loveable sad-sack H.I. McDunnough (a convenience store hold-up artist who locks his keys in the car) is a comic tour de force. Newcomer Holly Hunter's face switches in an instant from withering scorn, to unshakeable despair. The entire cast is blessed with a script that delivers funny lines to everyone who shows up on set.

And in a film concerned with family and giving birth, the Coens crack their knuckles and roll out one cinematic pun after another. How nasty is it when two brothers deliver themselves from the muddy ground, like demon-spawn? And how pathetic is it when they chose to return on their own accord? And you just know the baddest guy is the biker who carries his own bronzed baby-shoes, and sports a tattoo that reads, “Momma didn't love me.”

It's a funny, dopey movie, and yet when the McDunnoughs finally return the baby to Nathan Arizona and he delivers his cornball consolation speech ("I sure hate to think of Florence leaving me. I do love her so.") I always get choked up. Of course, then he asks the couple to leave the way they came in: by the window.

I was going to include a few juicy quotes that always get me giggling, but there are too many. You can read a few here, or just resign yourself: get the movie off the shelf, drop it in the player, and enjoy.

Film Fave #2


DarkoV said...

A gem, it is. Never get tired of watching it; the roller-coaster of the humour goes form low to high comedy so quickly that you lose your breath at times. Holly Hunter, a great actress, has never done anything better and I'm not saying that because she hasn't been in other great movies. She was possessed in this movie. NIcholas Cage, who can be over the top at times in other movies, plays H.I. as one of the most put-upon losers in movie history. And yet, he's smiling all the time.

The only thing I'd disagree with your entry here, WP, is your limiting yourself to only one Coen movie. That's like not listing at least one Jarmusch movie in your top fifteen.

Uh, there will be at least one Jarmusch? Right? Night on Earth would be a good one, I think.

Whisky Prajer said...

I might as well let you down right now: I'm not a Jarmusch fan. And it's not for want of trying, either. I guess I just don't connect with the guy's vision of things. I'm realizing, though, that there are other oversights - nothing by Wim Wenders, for instance, when Wings of Desire should certainly be there. But this debate will be best served in another day or two...

DarkoV said...

Well, WP, this too shall pass, although I am surprised. The music he uses, the lighting, the wise-cracks, the surprises. I thought Jarmusch'd be a lock for you.

Anxious for the #1 choice...

Dennis Dale said...

Here, here. No Jarmusch. For the love of God people, there's absolutely nothing there. Stop encouraging him.
This is a great pick; but you know what everyone will say, that it's not even in the top three Coen Bros. movies.
I think it's one of the funniest movies of all time, and surprisingly touching at the end.
I always get choked up watching the final dream scene, especially when he utters the last line, something like, "...maybe we can be good too."
Did anyone else notice that Tarantino lifted their fight-in-an-undersized-trailer gag for Kill Bill?