Isaacs Picture Conclusions

THE IPC DOUBLE TAKE ~ FEATURING MARKED MOVIES: RAISING ARIZONA (1987)

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I have no idea why I have had writer’s block regarding this movie for so long.., it’s only one of MY FAVORITE MOVIES EVER! Mark and I talked about this a month ago and I watched it for the thousandth time and still laughed my ass off and then I just got stuck. I think it’s because I didn’t really know how to approach this classic. Should I just do my usual shtick and throw in some personal memories? Should I talk about the quality of the film itself? The direction? The cinematography? The music? The intro? The dialogue? The acting? The sets? I really still don’t know the best approach to explore this but here we go.

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The very short scene depicted in the picture above is one of my favorite things out of all of the movies I’ve seen. It comes in the super long intro and involves these words that my friend and I have said ten thousand times and driven my wife crazy forever:

Cellmate: …and when there was no meat, we ate fowl and when there was no fowl, we ate crawdad and when there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand.
H.I.: You ate what?
Cellmate: We ate sand.
[pause]
H.I.: You ate SAND?
Cellmate: That’s right…

I guess, if you haven’t seen this (wth???) that might not make sense to you, The Good and Most Beloved and Cherished Reader, but – well – this is it – that’s MY kind of humor. I’ve gone public and told the world that I don’t like the likes of Will Ferrell and Danny McBride and Dane Cook and that kind of shit. I don’t like LOOKATME LOOKATME I’MEATINGCATSHIT IHAVEABONER type of comedy. I like my humor sly and subtle and ironic and sarcastic and quiet. For example, one of my other favorite moments in this is when Tex Cobb’s bounty hunter walks into H.I. and Edwina’s trailer, bends down to pick up the ad for the bank, and spends a good ten seconds staring at this:

arizonafart

I like it slow – and deliberate – that’s what gets me laughing. Like when Goodman and Forsythe rob that general store. Forsythe tells the clerk to get down and count to (I think) 900 and then back again and they might just come back and check on him. They get down the road and realize they left the baby in the parking lot. Goddamn I’m laughing writing this. So they start screaming and screaming and whip the car around and scream constantly all the way back to the store and the clerk is laying there on the ground and he’s all “awwww BULLSHIT!!!” and they come screaming down the road and his eyes get all buggy and he drops to the ground. Outside, they pick up the baby and in the background you can hear him “sevenhundredninetyninemississippi. sevenhundredninetyeightmississippi. sevenhundredninetysevenmissippi.”

ARIZONANATHAN

Or how about when the cops and FBI come into Nathan Arizona’s house and “interrogate” him. He gets all pissed off and gets the fingerprint ink on his expensive coat and then starts yelling and screaming – and cleaning up the living room. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! There’s also talk about wife swapping, men with menstrual cramps, and one of the greatest chase scenes I’ve ever seen. If I had the ability I would endlessly loop that chase on some sort of screen in my office at work. From the convenience store through the streets through a house through a grocery store with endless gun shots. FUCKING HILARIOUS!!

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I can’t say enough good words about this. If you haven’t seen this – I IMPLORE you to do so. To me: this is a master piece of comedy and film making in general. I just looked at my “OVERVIEW” page and I thought that I had written up a reason why I use Top Hats as a rating scale but, apparently, I didn’t.  Here’s the thing: a few years ago I went to see the new Star Trek at the theater and I was blown away. The next day I was instant messaging with my friend, telling him how good it was. I told him it was so good he needed to dress up in his formal suit, grab his monocle and wear a top hat. That in fact, it was so good he needed to wear five top hats and that’s how that came about (I need to update my about page). When I write stuff up I don’t balance something against the canon of movies out there, I base my thing on whether or not I was entertained. This entertains me no matter how often I see and this would get a five TH. or a ten TH. or 100 panties on your head.

Whew – that was good fun!! Now let me pass this one over to my main Mucker – Mark!

***

ARIZONAM

In 1984, “Blood Simple” was released and it marked the debut of a certain couple of siblings named Joel & Ethan Coen. It’s was a marvellously dark and twisted, low-budget, modern noir and put their names on the film industry’s map. You’d think that once a particular, successful, style has been established it would be wise to stick with that winning formula but the brothers’ sophomore effort went in an entirely different direction and they delivered a wickedly, wacky and hilarious comedy, proving that their talents are comfortable in any genre.

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H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) is a repeat offender for petty theft and can’t quite keep out prison. It’s in the slammer though, that he meets his sweetheart Ed (Holly Hunter), the police photographer, and not before long the unlikely pair are hitched, on the straight and narrow and ready to start a family. Problem is, Ed finds out she’s infertile and deeply longs for a baby. It just happens around this time that local and well-known furniture salesman Nathan Arizona’s wife has just given birth to quintipulets. H.I. & Ed decide that having five babies is more than anyone can handle and decide to kidnap one for themselves. It’s here that all sorts of problems begin for H.I. & Ed as they try to keep their new family together with escape convict friends (John Goodman, William Forsythe) paying a visit and a rogue bounty-hunter biker (Randall “Tex” Cobb) on their trail.
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The first and still one of the best of the Coen brothers’ comedies. This was the film that proved that the siblings could do zany and outlandish comedy with absolute ease and consummate skill. It also allowed them to show off their ability to film with such a kinetic energy and an introduction to their (ever growing) catalogue of zany characters. The performances across the board are outstanding with special mention going to the two leads; Nicolas Cage is marvellous as the hen-pecked, buffoonish, human form of Woody the Woodpecker and Holly Hunter is equally as good as his neurotic and controlling spouse. Cage has become a bit of laughing stock in the film industry these days but back in the 80’s and early 90’s he delivered some memorable roles. This is certainly one of them. What a joy it would be to see him reprise these type of roles and what a joy it is to watch such a sharp and exciting comedy from quite possibly the most consistant filmmakers around today. If ever there was a film that could be labeled as a live-action animation, this could possibly be it. It’s not just the work in front of the camera that excels though; behind it, cinematographer (and future director himself) Barry Sonnenfeld does some sublime work. He assembles some very fine action set-pieces and keeps the camera moving at an almost unbearably frantic pace. Roger Deakins has now established himself as almost another Coen sibling with his consistently reliable work on their recent films but he wasn’t always the man to bring their vision to the screen. Sonnenfeld was. Another frequent collaborator is the always reliable Carter Burwell who infuses all the mayhem with a pefectly fitting score that brings the whole package together.
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Quite simply, this is how comedies should be made. It has a little of everything and it shows exactly why, I regard the Coen’s as the most consistently surprisingly and creative filmmakers we have today.
Mark
(If you’re new to the joint and not familiar with Mark or his work – please take 10,000 seconds to visit his site HERE – it’s excellent!!)

23 comments

  1. Pingback: Raising Arizona * * * * 1/2 « MARKED MOVIES

  2. It would be hard to describe what it is I like about this movie – I just do! You made a good attempt at it. This movie was just too weird to describe cause everytime I tried to tell someone about it, they looked at me like I had two heads… Glad you gave it some praise!

    Like

  3. I love this movie and I love the way both of you reviewed it! My favourite Coen brothers movie is undoubtedly The Big Lebowski, then probably Fargo, and then this one.
    And hey, now I know all about the Top Hats! This post accomplished a lot.

    Like

  4. Pingback: My Top Ten Nicolas Cage Movies | Cinema Parrot Disco

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