No 101 - Raising Arizona
Directors - Joel and Ethan Coen
I'm so very sorry.
I saw this film AGES ago - like over a week ago. But then I got super busy with work and then I got raucous at Secret Garden Party. There hasn't been a blog.
Allow me to attempt to rectify, but please be aware that this will be quite rough and ready now as the ravages of time (and Magners) have taken their hold.
The first thing this film reminded me of is that Nick Cage is brilliant. I know that I should be aware of this - he is great in Con Air... and Adaptation.... and I love him in Face/Off even if he is ridiculous.
But recently, he has been letting his hair do most of the acting and appearing in some preposterous nonsense with AWFUL tag lines.
So it is nice to be reminded of his skills.
The Coens are very good at creating 'Noble' Ne'er Do Wells. People who we relate to - despite them being bad 'uns or corrupt in some way.
Nicolas Cage's Hi is the perfect example.
He can't stay out of prison for long and doesn't seem to particularly bothered by the entire process. In fact, he uses his regular arrests to form a strange semi-flirty relationship with the police photographer.
Finally he proposes and goes straight.
As you may be able to fathom, the 'going straight' aspect fails in a spectacular fashion.
The film itself is really quite bonkers and focuses on a surreally twisted version of our reality. The comedy itself isn't surreal, more the people and situations are so twisted and distorted that the turn into caricatures and cartoons.
It seems quite right, that the only two people that are given any kind of 3-dimensional depth are the protagonists:
Ed - played fantastically by Holly Hunter. Her character is so frail, delicate and naive looking. A very homely beauty to her that all helps to defy the mad obsession for having a baby. Because Ed is so sweet and unassuming, it is generally quite scary to see her snap.
Hi - played by Nicolas Cage and again playing quite a sweet and gentle man. Just one who only knows how to stick up shops.
And before he went straight, Hi had amazing sideburns.
In fact, sideburns are an important point. The whole film seems somewhat timeless, because it seems to be trapped in a contemporary 1950s. The men are either pastel wearing preppy nincompoops or rough and ready rockabillies. The scenes and environments share the same 50s pastel palette as Edward Scissorhands, only feels far less suburban.
The whole films has a strong 50s vibe, which I suppose helps to carry the gung ho 'rock and roll' vibe of the film.
The film also plays up to cliches of the Midwest. Mainly that they're all gun toting hicks who shoot first.
A failed store robbery (for some nappies) ends in an excessive gun fight as various yokel looking members of the store staff fire ever larger, ridiculous and destructive weapons at Hi. Eventually destroying the majority of two stores.
This could be viewed as quite un-PC or quite insulting. But in my opinion all it does is reinforce the cartoonish nature of the film. No one gets hurt from the gunfire so it is just another bonkers layer to the film.
This point is exemplified by the Hell's Angel bounty hunter. Who may be real. Or who may be a metaphor for the rampant anger of Mrs Arizona or who may be some kind of subconscious element of Hi's psyche (they both share a Woody Woodpecker tattoo, which hints at some kind of connection). However, this film aint Fight Club, and that isn't something that gets explored.
He is a wonderful character (as is John Goodman's show (and baby) stealing cameo) and the scene where he explodes is played far more as Tom and Jerry than Scanners.
I'm aware that this is a very brief and flakey review, but it is similar to how I feel after the festival...
All in all... I liked it!