Monday, May 03, 2010

Raising Arizona

"There's what's right and there's what's right and never the twain shall meet."

I have seen six Coen Brothers' films. Raising Arizona is my seventh. Fargo conquers all. No Country still blows my mind. Miller's Crossing is so bad-ass. But Raising Arizona takes the comedic cake. Hi (played surprisingly well by Nicolas Cage, who knew!) and his wife Ed (also played wonderfully by Holly Hunter, no surprises there) are incapable of conceiving a child (hilarious) so they steal one (even more hilarious). Wait, what?!

The Coen Brothers have an innate ability to draw humor out of the darkest recesses of our human interactions and exchanges. Truthfully, Raising Arizona, if left untreated by the Coen Brothers, reads something like a melodrama, a Lifetime movie you might watch on a lazy (read boring) Sunday afternoon. But lens employed by the Coen Brothers lifts the film into an almost farcical realm. Almost: The characters are off-kilter, the colors are brighter, the camera angles are noticeable, the plot is hell-bent on absurdity, and the dialogue is simply ridiculous; BUT, we never question that this film represents some kind of reality, no matter how far removed it may actually be. Take this diaper robbery/car chase/Scooby-Doo-esque sequence. Oh, by the way Hi is an ex-convict, Ed is a "twice-decorated" cop, the baby (Nathan, Jr., Ed, Hi, whatever his name may be) is one of a set of quintuplets belonging to the Arizona family (who own Unpainted Arizona, a furniture emporium, with, well loads of unpainted furniture); see what I mean about the "almost:"

The laughter continues as two of Hi's friends (recently escaped convicts) find their way to Hi and Ed's home, there to learn that the Arizona family is offering a 25,000 dollar reward for the return of their child. So, being the loving friends they are, and more so the criminals, they steal Nathan and run away to rob a bank... only to leave the baby in the road after robbing the bank. Here's your screaming men sequence, Dr. Boles:

Let's not forget the maniacal Leonard Smalls, the lizard-pelting, grenade-wielding, stud-wearing, "tracker," who's after the money, as well. Perhaps, "Almost" turns to "Totally" in this case:

It is, for sure, the unabashed portrayal of men, women, and convicts alike pursuing their goals, no matter how absurd that leads to fits, rather rows of laughter. Hmmm... perhaps it is the unabashed portrayal of men and women pursuing their goals, no matter how ethically or morally inconsistent, that leads to an understanding of filmic reconstructions of 80's culture...


Vladigogo said...

As Andy Bernard says on THE OFFICE, "Nailed it."

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