Raising Arizona (1987) Cinemas in the 80s were vast. empty mausoleums. People stayed home ﬁddling with their new toploader VCRs. while the local lleapits ground down hard-bitten cineftles with anaemic comedies. Then came this joyous. silly and touching comedy.
Nicholas Cage is H.l. McDunnough (dunno —< geddit‘.’). a wild—haired robber who falls for bonkers policewoman Holly Hunter. When the white trash couple discover they cannot have children. they hatch a cra/y plan to kidnap (a favourite Coen plot device) one of local furniture can Nathan Arizona‘s quintuplets (reasoning he won‘t miss one less Nathan .lr). (‘haos ensues when two ex-con buddies (John Goodman and William l-‘orsythe) turn up (out on ‘their own recognisancc’) and a biker bounty hunter (a ‘wanhog frotn hell‘) is sent to retrieve the child.
With its languorous voice-over by HI. and cartoon mayhem. Raising Arizona is the maddest of madcap comedies. The final scene always gets you. Lounging at peace in their Arizona trailer park. H.l. cogitates on his now perfect life with a line opaque yet entirely unforgettable: ‘:\nd it seetncd real. It seemed like us. It seemed like. well . . . our home. If not Arizona then a land. not too far away. where all parents are strong and wise and capable. and all the children are happy and beloved. I dunno. maybe it was L'tah.’ Poetry. (Paul Dale)
12 THE LIST 18 Oct 1 No: 1/7081
Miller’s Crossing (1990)
Honour among thieves has been a perennial theme in cinematic lore. But has it ever been more stylish. more arresting. more cool than in the (‘oens‘ first movie of the ‘)()s'.’ It’s a visual and aural masterpiece of spinning fedoras. stunning violence and scintillating performances: John 'l‘unurro is at his grubbiest as the largely pathetic Bernie Bernbaum: Gabriel Byrne is as solid and emotionally detached as an iceberg; Albert l’inney is the gun-toting gangster patriarch; and ’l‘arantino could only dream of coaxing out the performance that Marcia (iay Harden gives as the malicious moll.
Among a do/en winning scenes. the finest is when Byrne's gangster drags ’l‘uiturro's rat into the clearing known as Miller's (‘rossing to kill him. All the emotions. loyalties. plot-strands and fatalism merge into the moment. look into your heart.‘ pleads Bernie over and over. as his pitiful life flashes before him. ‘liriendship’s got nothing to do with it.‘ hits back Byrne. remaining steadfast in his determination to do what needs to be done.
As tough and convoluted as any of the hardboiled pre-war gangster classics so beloved of the ('oens. this tale still leaves you shaking your head even after the final hat has come to rest and the debate on ethics remains unresolved. (Brian Donaldson)