Friday, December 26, 2008

Raising Arizona

Joel Coen, 1987 (10*)
This is one the funniest and fastest-paced comedies ever made, and my favorite film of the Coen Brothers. The story starts at breakneck speed, as we get robberies and chases involving lead character Nicholas Cage before the opening titles even roll, about 15 minutes into the film.

During his prison photo shoots he meets a weepy guard played by Holly Hunter, who informs him that "my fi-ants done left me"; what ensues is a whirlwind romance, marriage, then another weepy Hunter disclosure "I'm barn" (meaning barren or infertile). Cage then gets the line of the film: "The doc said her insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase". Roger Ebert said that "people just don't talk this way", but here in Georgia they sure do, and remember the Coen Brothers are from Texas.

The couple reads about quintuplets born to local unpainted furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona, brilliantly played by scene stealing Trey Wilson (who died shortly after filming, causing the film to be dedicated to him), and Hunter convinces Cage to "go get me a toddler! they got too many, we ain't got any".

The rest of the film is a riotous post-crime spree involving a bounty-hunting biker played by ex-boxer Randall "Tex" Cobb, two escaped former inmates of Cages who drop by (John Goodman is surprisingly unfunny in his part), several chases with baby in tow, and everyone else chasing the baby stealers. The dialogue is ripe with great lines, the visual style is as exciting as any action adventure, even the baby is funny, and the result is perhaps the funniest comedy of all time.

Quote: Down at my store we got one motto: "Do it my way or watch your butt!" (-Nathan Arizona, talking to the FBI)
Quote2: Boy, did you know you got a panty on yer head? (a local pickup driver who picks up Nick Cage hitchin a ride just after an armed robbery)


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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