John Goodman

Raising Arizona

Year: 1987
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

I actually remember catching clips from this movie as a kid in the 80s on HBO. Long before I ever knew who the Coen brothers were or before I ever saw the movie with an understanding eye. It’s an interesting thing I like to consider and a memory I smile on. It makes this movie more endearing to me in an odd way. I think this is a delightfully charming movie that has always gotten better with each viewing.

I’ve always thought of this movie as full on Coen. In that I mean that it has all their greatest qualities rolled into one. It is funny in an intelligent and interesting way with a script that could only come from the Coens. There are interesting characters and action sequences that come out of no where but manage to be both exciting and funny at the same time. I have always loved the Coens and own a great many of their films. This one happens to be one of my favorites yet I find it hard to really explain why. It’s such a smart yet silly movie. I think the dialogue is the reason for that. The characters we watch are generally stupid but they speak in humorous creativity with an amazing vocabulary.

There is good Nicolas Cage– and bad Nicolas Cage. These days we don’t seem to see much more than the bad version but in 1987 and as H.I. McDunnough Cage is really funny. He’s so simple yet well spoken that I find it hilarious. That hair that he has is awesome and he rocks it with a look of pure stupidity on his face that makes me laugh every time. When he goes back to armed robbery and steals the Huggies I think he is part of one of the greatest action sequences ever. One that only the Coens could have concocted. The panties hoes, the shooting, the chasing dogs, and then the ending series of turns that leads them back to the Huggies is a work of sequential harmony.

My favorite performance in this film actually goes to Holly Hunter though. She has such a great accent in this movie and I love her womanly dramatics. My favorite scene is when she is in the car with Nathan Jr. after the kidnapping and she suddenly screams out “I JUST LOVE HIM SO MUCH!!!!” as she begins to cry hysterically. I think it is a hilarious scene and I do think Holly Hunter manages to steal the screen often in this movie. Her accent is remarkable. I love her from the get go when she mentions how her “fi-ance” had left her. She is flawlessly funny in this movie.

The Coen’s have always had a knack for including an out of the ordinary character in their films that leaves an impression on the audience. In this movie that character is Leonard Smalls played by Randall “Tex” Cobb. Smalls is such a scary guy that H.I. considers him a demon formed right out of his own sin to hunt him down and punish him.  When Smalls proves to be an actual person with demands of his own I think it only serves to make him more badass. He is such an intimidating man but when he snatches the fly out of the air right in front of Nathan Arizona’s face it puts him over the top. Smalls as a character is one of the best things about this movie and I love what he brings to the story.

John Goodman has been a favorite of the Coen brothers going all the way back to this film in 1987 and continuing until today. This is not my favorite collaboration he has had with them but he is hilarious paired with William Forsythe as an escaped con who figures out his old buddy H.I. is hiding something. He is so great from beginning to end from breaking out of the prison in the rainstorm to the prison robbery with Nathan Jr. in tow. It really funny in the end when he and Forsythe simply crawl back into their hole to go back to prison.

This is a one of a kind movie made by some of the most interesting and talented film making brothers to ever get behind camera. As with most of their movies it offers wit that you won’t find anywhere else and a story that is unlike anything you have seen before. I love a movie that gets better the more you watch it and that is the case most of the time when you sit down to watch something made by the Coen brothers. This movie is without doubt no only worth your time but worth plenty of it and I would recommend it any day of the week to anyone.

 

NEXT MOVIE: Ransom (1996)

 

 

Arachnophobia

Year: 1990
Directed By: Frank Marshall
Written By: Don Jakoby, Al Williams, and Wesley Strick

RYAN’S REVIEW

Before starting this film I look it up on IMDB and it is actually listed as comedy/sci-fi/thriller.  That’s an odd combination of categories but no where in there is horror.  I don’t know now if this movie is right for our horror month but phobia is in the title, that has to count for something right? No, I’m only kidding. I bought this movie specifically because Amber is terrified of spiders and I thought it would be a good idea to add it into what we were doing this month.  It’s always a good idea to choose to watch something your wife is terrified of……right? Maybe by the time this movie is over I will be much more scared of my wife than she is of this movie.

We are half way through this movie now and it is absolutely everything IMDB said it was.  While people are dying all around from spider bites the movie still manages to be light hearted.  It’s like a joke that occasionally throws in John Goodman as a punch line. It’s a damn good punch line if I will say so myself, John Goodman is a gem that we should all appreciate every time we have the opportunity.  To get back to the point, it seems I have made a horrible mistake in making this film part of our special month of Halloween.  Not only is this movie not a horror film, but it’s actually a comedy in some twisted way.  Of course I did succeed in one way, Amber is freaking out with fear. Although she is getting angrier at me with each passing spider scene and I know I am going to pay for this eventually.

I have seen this movie before but it has been quite a long time and it didn’t make enough of an impression on me for me to remember much about it.  I knew I was all wrong about what I thought the film was when the spider reached America. The spider climbs out of the coffin it came in and scared first the dog then the cat out of the examining room through a doggy door and onto the street.  Something about that scene seemed specifically intended to be humorous and I realized I had really made a big mistake. Later there was that scene where the two spiders meet and presumably fall in love.  I looked at my wife and wanted to laugh but her eyes weren’t filled with laughter at all.  She didn’t see the humor in that scene. When I looked in her eyes I saw only fear, and searing anger directed right at me.

Holy shit, John Goodman just said, “Oh my God they got the professor.” Obviously this movie is not to be taken seriously but nobody delivers that line better.  John Goodman is just so damn good, if nothing else he makes this whole movie worth wild.

The family is now climbing through a bathroom window to escape a never ending amount of swarming spiders. Is it really necessary to run or flee from something you can simply step on?   This movie is so silly but in the strangest way I have found myself sucked in and can’t look away.

OK Jeff Daniels has just had his climactic battle with the queen upon which she was electrified to death in the end.  It’s so awesome in the strangest way, both ridiculous and dramatic.  It seems this fight isn’t over though; there is still a king to be dealt with.  Uh oh, Jeff Daniels is trapped and the king is dodging the wine bottles he is throwing.  Is it going to come after him? Is he going to relive his oldest and scariest memory for real this time as an adult? Oh he has escaped and now has a spray paint can and lighter he is using as a blow torch. Could this man vs. spider fight be any more riveting? Wait for it, wait for it…..it’s happening right now, that king spider is crawling on him and he can’t move.  He’s a baby in his crib all over again but this time he is going to die.  The spider is taking it’s time, critical bad guy mistake……..paralysis conquered, Jeff Daniels launches king spider into the fire. It’s finally over, wait no it isn’t! The spider leaps from the fire and readies for another attack, this time in flames.  Jeff Daniels finally kills it by shooting it to death with a nail gun…..a nearly horrific moment, and here is John Goodman catching Jeff Daniels as he falls just in time to stop you from really feeling fear and remembering that this movie is kind of funny.

The movie ended on the most light hearted and happy go lucky note I may have ever seen.  I was so off base when I thought this was a horror film and I feel ridiculous for it now.  In the strangest way I actually liked this movie though and can’t say that I feel like I wasted my time.  It was silly but I think it was obviously meant to be like that.  The film was made by the Spielberg crew (Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall) so maybe it was made to mock Jaws in a certain way.  I don’t know this; it’s simply an idea because when I wrote about Jaws I discussed how the film had created an entire genre of movies about killer animals.  Regardless I found myself entertained by this movie and at the end of the day that is all that really matters.  Amber hated it with a passion and during the next few days I’m sure to find out just how much she hated it.  Halloween is a season for scary things and under these circumstances this comedy/sci-fi/thriller had just what was needed to scare her.  I’m going to call this a success despite my mistake and be happy with it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

EWH, EWH, EWH.

I fucking HATE spiders. I know that a lot of other people are like me too, but I can’t stand those little gross fuckers. This movie was ridiculous. It was weird and funny at times, but ultimately it was a really stupid movie. Having said that, it still creeped me out to a very uncomfortable degree. I hid my eyes and did that shudder thing you do when you see something just so so so so so so GROSS.I hate that Ryan made me watch this.

arachnophobiaThis poster is actually pretty nice. It’s very slightly asymmetrical, except when it comes to the moon and the dangling spider. It shows the little town that the movie takes place in and then gives you the image of a moon (creating the mood of the film) and a spider hanging from the web above its head. It forces you to look there. There is nothing really special about the title and in fact it reminds me of a lot of Stephen King typography. The colors are nice and for the most part so is the imagery, so I am actually about to say that I like this poster. I don’t shudder and hate it, so that’s saying a lot coming from me.

Movies By Request

O Brother, Where Art Thou

Year: 2001
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Homer (The Odyssey), Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

More than anything this movie reminds me of my time at Action Video when I was 16. This movie was one of our hottest renters on a regular basis even long after it had been released on video.  I didn’t watch the movie then and apparently haven’t seen it ever before. The soundtrack from this movie was played relentlessly by my father when it came out and that probably had a lot to do with why I didn’t see it.  I had also yet to discover who the Coen brothers were at that point in my young movie watching life.

The Coen brothers are two of the best in the business and they are unique because they do it all, on all of their movies.  They write all their films themselves, then direct, produce, and edit all by themselves as well. They always create interesting characters and write really clever dialogue for them. This film is no different either; it is clever and extremely well written.  The Coen brothers took the classic epic poem “The Odyssey” by Homer and loosely rewrote the story to take place in the Deep South during the Great Depression. The movie stars George Clooney, who the Coens have had success with a few times.  I have never liked Clooney though; all I can ever see is the worst Batman of all time no matter what he is in.  He plays a good part in this film, but I detest him nonetheless.  John Turturro is another Coen regular and I think he is great in just about everything he does.  John Goodman, yet another Coen regular, has a fantastic role in the film and he is probably my favorite thing about the movie. Tim Blake Nelson was appropriately cast for his role in the film; the Coens have a gift for finding the right people.

This movie is immensely popular, in fact it is one of the more popular films made by two of my favorite directors.  I can completely see what people like about it too but I have just never liked this one and always have a hard time trying to watch it.  I detest country music to the point that I kind of go a little insane in my head every time I hear it, I loathe the sound of it.  It’s a personal issue I have that I can’t really explain.  While I know that the music in this movie isn’t country, it is country enough to set off one of my weirder and more insane tendencies. The number one song from this movie is a good song, I can admit that, but I just cringe every time I hear it and it has a knack for getting stuck in my head for days. Beyond that I don’t really like the coloring technique the Coens used or the time setting of the film.  Not to mention Clooney, despite all his witty lines in the film it is still Clooney. I can clearly see that this is a great film and I know why people like it so much.  I just have really weird reasons for never giving it a chance and those same reasons prove too much to get past for me while watching it.

Do not take my advice when it comes to this movie.  Give it a chance yourself and you will probably find that you feel completely different than me.  I have weird and unusual reasons for not liking this movie and even I recognize how ridiculous that is.  Every single person I know disagrees with me on this and thinks I’m crazy for not loving this movie. Based on that reality I’m going to suggest that while I may not like this movie, it is still more than likely worth your time.

The Big Lebowski

Year: 1998
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is my second favorite movie of all time.  I think it is a perfect movie. The performances are great, the screenplay is great, and it is made by a pair of the greatest filmmakers in the industry today. This may be my personal second favorite movie of all time but it is well-loved all around. There is actually an annual Lebowskifest for fans of the film which has gotten so big that the cast reunited for it this year and made an appearance. It is a great movie made by great movie makers, the Coen brothers, and it is their vision and creativity that make this film so great.

I was a history student in college when I fell in love with this film.  It’s because I watched it during that era of life that this film is so endeared to me.  It’s a smart movie and history plays a large part in the story really.  This movie is set at a specific time, during the First Gulf War.  The Gulf War was the first “major” military conflict the United States had entered since the fighting ended in Vietnam nearly 20 years prior. Here we have a story centered around a relic from the Vietnam era. The Dude is an old school hippy still doing his thing, getting high and bowling, enjoying a White Russian now and again.  He doesn’t have anything and doesn’t really care, he is just living life.  His best friend Walter Sobchek is a former soldier obviously still living in the past. After all “he didn’t watch his buddies die face down in the muck so that he could go on and live in the present.” His other friend Donnie the pacifist, he is out of his element. These are the men that represent different sects of American society during a very dramatic time in our history.  That isn’t what this movie is about though, this is just who the characters are.  These guys manage to get caught up in an unusual chain of events, something that happens in many Coen Brothers films.

The cast is fantastic in this movie, another Coen Brothers trademark.  Jeff Bridges is iconic as The Dude.  He is a good actor but at the end of his career I think this character will be the one that stands out the most.  That also goes for John Goodman, who is always great and is a Coen Brothers regular.  He is crazy and completely over the top as Walter Sobcheck and it is awesome.  There are many Coen Brother regulars in this film actually. Steve Buscemi, John Turturro, Peter Stormare, and Jon Polito are some of the other Coen Brother regulars in this film.  Buscemi doesn’t stand out in this film because he is always in the background but he is the kind of actor that makes everything he is in a little bit better.  There are many directors that like to work with him on a regular basis and there is good reason for that.  Phillip Seymor Hoffman is overwhelmingly enthusiastic and very funny as the Big Lebowski’s assistant Bran. John Turturro is classic as the Jesus.  Sam Elliot provides another interesting character to the mix.  Tara Reid is young and sexy. Julianne Moore plays a very weird Maude Lebowski but she plays the part well.  Everybody is at there best in this film, the Coen Brothers have a great ability to get the best out of their actors.

When you watch this movie for the first time you really can’t be sure what will happen next and where it is all going.  When you watch it again you catch things you didn’t see the first time, and the more you watch it from then on the better it gets.  That is really what makes a movie special, when you can watch something over and over again and still find new things to love about it.  I have probably watched this movie over 100 times and I still think it is awesome when I watch it now.  This movie is more than worth your time, in fact it’s worth your money, attention, and respect.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is a hard movie for me to write about. I love it so much, but I doubt that I can find the words to tell you how truly awesome this film is. Everyone I know who has seen this movie loves it, or at least likes it. I have never met anyone that has seen it and tells me that they hated it. This movie is just so perfectly made. I love the Coen Brothers so much and think that they make the most amazing films. They are filled with interesting story lines that haven’t been done before, they have humor and drama were needed and they usually end pretty perfectly.

The people in this film are what really make it. The movie wouldn’t have been the same without Jeff Bridges as the Dude. He will always be The Dude, or the Duderino, or Duder, what have you. Walter is played so well by the infamous and Coen Brothers loved John Goodman. I think he is definitely my favorite character in the movie. He plays his role with such ease, as if he really was that person, not even acting at all, it was so effortless. The others, Phillip Seymor-Hoffman, Juianne Moore, Tara Reid, John Turturro and of course Steve Buscemi all played their roles to the “t” and it makes for such an interesting movie.

The plot centers around the most relaxed person in the world, “The Dude” getting confused with another person, named “Lebowski” simply because they have the same last name. The story follows along what happens to him after his rug gets pissed on by the people assuming he is this “Lebowski” character.

Memorable Quotes:

“See what happens Larry? This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass!” -Walter

Maude: “What do you do for recreation?”
The Dude: “Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.”

“Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules? Mark it zero!” -Walter

“What’s this day of rest shit? What’s this bullshit? I don’t fuckin’ care! It don’t matter to Jesus. But you’re not foolin’ me, man. You might fool the fucks in the league office, but you don’t fool Jesus. This bush league psyche-out stuff. Laughable, man – ha ha! I would have fucked you in the ass Saturday. I fuck you in the ass next Wednesday instead. Wooo! You got a date Wednesday, baby!” -The Jesus

NEXT MOVIE: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)