12 February 2006

Coen (1983-1987)

1983 - Blood Simple. - The old saying "seeing is believing" fuels a cascade of misunderstandings in this film. In a way, it's almost like a noir version of a Three's Company episode in which the kooky hijinx result in murder. Throughout the film, when seeing overrides listening, bad things happen. A faked photograph and failure to heed the sound of a cocking revolver doom Marty. The sight of Abby's revolver and Marty with a bullet wound in his chest leads Ray to two erroneous conclusions; a listen to Marty's chest and a real conversation with Abby would've cleared those things up. Abby's failure to listen to Ray allows the PI to see well enough to fire his rifle and kill her lover. It's only when Abby listens to the position of the PI and fires a bullet -- without ever seeing him -- through a door that this run of bad things ends.

I'm curious as to the differences between the director's cut I just watched on DVD and the original theatrical cut. Generally, I'm not a fan of directors re-editing their movies after a significant amount of time has gone by. This is an impressive first film, but I have to wonder how much influence the modern versions of the Bros. had over this cut.

1987 - Raising Arizona - I think in fifty years, people will still be able to watch this and find it funny. Outside of one reference to President Reagan, this is a timeless comedy in which the laughs come from the goofy characters, the situations they get into, and even the editing of the film itself. The closest thing I can think to compare this film to is a Looney Tunes short. It has all of the kinetic energy and broad characters of a cartoon with a solid core about family. I'm still not sure why Leonard and H.I. had the same tattoo (appropriately, of the zany cartoon character Woody Woodpecker). Were they brothers? Was Leonard the hellspawn pure-evil outlaw biker flipside of H.I.'s angelically harmless recidivist convenience store robber? Or, maybe it was just for the simple chuckle: "huh, that's weird!"? Either way, after this recent viewing, I think Raising Arizona is now somewhere in my top 20 favorite comedies. Pure fun.