William Forsythe

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)

 

 

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Once Upon a Time in America

Year: 1984
Directed By: Sergio Leone
Written By: Harry Grey (novel) six different men are credited with the screenplay including Sergio Leone.

RYAN’S REVIEW

One of my favorite things to do in the past was browse the movie sections of stores or stroll through a video store to look at all that was available. I loved looking at all the options and picking out something I wanted to buy or something to rent. Sadly as time has moved on this is something I have lost the opportunity to do. Movie sections in stores are shrinking at an incredible rate and video stores are all but nonexistent these days. The closest anything comes now is the recommendations suggested to me on Amazon. I find myself sometimes just scrolling through the images presented to me looking for something I want. I rarely find an older movie that I want and don’t already own but sometimes I see something that I think I should have seen and never did. That’s how this movie came into the collection. I was eventually worn down by Amazon and clicked that order button one day just taking a chance. It was a mob movie and it starred Robert De Niro, James Woods, William Forsythe, and Joe Pesci. Throw in Sergio Leone as director and I found myself wondering how I had managed to miss this one over the years.

Now, after spending three days to watch this movie that has a running time of 3 hours and 40 minutes I came away with only one thought in mind. If you want a looooonnngg and confusing mobster film then this movie is head and shoulders above The Godfather II. I’ll admit that after watching this movie I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened. That’s due in part to the fact I tried to watch it in three different viewings and truthfully when I was sitting down to watch it my attention wavered frequently because the movie is so slow. Nevertheless, even without knowing the ins and outs of the plot I still felt like this movie was better than De Niro’s more famous mob movie from ten years earlier.

I had never seen a Sergio Leone film. His trilogy of spaghetti westerns has long been on my to-do list and I have known his name and reputation for quite a while. When his name popped out to me on the Amazon image I thought it was high time I actually see one of his films. I found his film quite impressive truthfully. Far too drawn out at times and the story telling could have been better but all that was made up for in spades with savage and exciting action. I don’t care for the portrayal of rape in the film because it seems altogether too casual to me. Not necessarily the rape of De Niro’s true love Deborah but of the woman in the bank more so. What he did really offended me, and I specifically didn’t like how everyone was so nonchalant about it as the film went on.

De Niro is a great actor who does incredible in this movie playing varying ages but I don’t like how rapey he is. It was a bit of a shock to me to see De Niro raping women like he does in this movie. I don’t know why because over the years I have seen him do so many violent things in films but this seemed like a line I hadn’t seen him cross before. That’s not all that makes his opium smoking Jewish gangster an unsavory character among all the others he has played in his career, but it is what bothered me the most.

I specifically liked James Woods’ portrayal of Max and wish he had taken more mobster roles in the past. I like James Woods but more often than not he is playing the wrong character. The immediate parts that come to mind are the pimp he plays in Casino and the trainer he plays in Any Given Sunday. Not his fault because both of those characters were specifically written to be disliked. There are plenty of his films I have yet to see and roles like the one he had in this movie give me reason to look forward to them.

I was partially sold on this movie by presence of Joe Pesci in the cast. I am a huge Pesci fan and feel like I haven’t seen enough of him in his career. The opportunity to see him in another mob film was so appetizing but I have to report that I was let down. Pesci is awesome as ever in this movie but his role is merely a cameo. He is only in the movie for maybe 5, 10 minutes tops. A big disappointment but I’ll take anything I can get from Joe Pesci because he isn’t like to make more movies in the future.

I only bring up The Godfather II because so many people have the audacity to call it great. I call it confusing, slow, a weak story, and practically absent of anything exciting. This movie can be a bit confusing too as it is all over the place in both time and tone. However where this movie makes up for all its faults is in the action. When the fire gets lit in this movie explosions happen and it’s hard to predict what might happen next. The action in this film is graphic and worthy of praise. The movie sets the tone early by starting with a bang before it drags out hopelessly but when things do happen they happen in a big and exciting way.

I specifically liked the scene in which the gangster pulled the old switcheroo on the Police Chief’s baby. The whole scene is incredible. Danny Aiello is so good in the role as a father of four daughters who has had his first son. I love how excited he is to have finally had a son and how much of an ass he is in explaining to his daughters that they now more or less don’t matter because a boy has been born. The shock on his face when he opens up the diaper to see a vagina staring right back at him is hilarious. When De Niro calls with demands it is the easiest thing in the world to get done because he has all the leverage in the world against this man. The real punch line comes after De Niro hangs up the phone and his associate tells him he actually lost the list of baby numbers they used to switch the kids around. Even funnier, and horrible as the same time, is how De Niro just shrugs it off and they decide that any random baby boy will do.

Buying this movie was a shot in the dark for me. In the purchase I’ll call it a swing and a miss but it wasn’t a complete waste. I didn’t really like this movie but I liked enough about it. I am glad to have seen it if for no other reason than that one scene with Danny Aiello was awesome. I also love any opportunity to bash The Godfather II and this movie offers the opportunity to do so. I sincerely think that film is awful despite what anybody says. I loved the first one, it’s one of my favorites of all time but the sequel is garbage. The third film is even worse. There are parts of The Godfather II that are cool. The flashback scenes of a young Vito Corleone that were part of the original book were cool but as I said in my review, everything that happens at present time is awful. If you want a movie like The Godfather II that is better then check this one out. Otherwise I can’t say it is worth any of your time. However, there are few films that are this long that I will ever suggest are worth anyone’s time.

NEXT MOVIE: Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)

 

Dick Tracy

Year: 1990
Directed By: Warren Beatty
Written By: James Cash & Jack Epps Jr.

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was six years old when this movie came out, and I watched it about a million times.  It’s a movie that inspired my love of action films as well as comic book themes. The color coordination really hooked me in as a six year old too.  Turns out the main colors of the film are yellow, orange, green, red, blue, and purple plus black and white. Which are the six colors the comic appeared in when originally published. Twenty-two years later and I still like what Warren Beatty did with this film and his use of the colors at hand.  This film is so bright it resembles a Tim Burton film, especially with Danny Elfman doing the score.  That’s a good thing though, I think this movie has a timeless quality that will help it live on forever, or until the inevitable reboot because studios are too stupid to come up with new ideas these days.

I like everything Warren Beatty did behind the camera as director of this movie.  Not just the color coordination but the style, the sets, the cars, the walkie-talkie watches, and the costumes are all top of the line. Beatty is also great in the role of the title character, he rocks the hell out of that yellow fedora. Al Pacino is always an excellent choice for the mob boss.  Under a lot of make-up he does a great job of playing Big Boy Caprice, based on the Chicago mob boss Al Capone. Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for the role but didn’t win.  Madonna plays her part well; she is really sexy and seductive as Breathless Mahoney.  She was one of the many women to jump start my sex drive at a very young age and it was this role that did it. At the age of six my parents thought I wasn’t old enough to see her doing anything else.  This film has a terrific supporting cast beyond those top three including Paul SorvinoDustin HoffmanWilliam ForsytheDick Van DykeJames Caan,  and Kathy Bates.  There is also Charlie Korsmo in the role of The Kid, he was in a few movies I loved as a child in the early 90s then mainly disappeared.

This was the cops and robbers story I identified the most with as a child.  It had a strong hero who always knew what to do, a large variety of really animated bad guys, and a big time shoot out in the end. It offered scenes that my imagination was really able to run wild with and it helped aid in my young creative spirit. This is a film I would recommend to anybody and I have really enjoyed seeing it again. This movie is worth your time if you get the opportunity to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is beautiful. I feel like this movie is an animated film, that isn’t actually animated. The colors are completely vivid and pretty and the characters are made up in a way that doesn’t even seem possible for the time period that this movie was made. Madonna looks exquisite in this film. I remember watching this movie when I was younger and not really ever knowing exactly what was happening, but watching it now I still really like this movie. It has action and suspense and is made in such a whimsical way. I think that Warren Beatty is one of the only men in the world that could actually pull off wearing that classic yellow hat and jacket.

This film is well worth your time of you haven’t seen it. It has a little something for everyone and is a movie you should definitely see in your lifetime.

NEXT MOVIE: Die Hard (1988)