Screen

O'Brien, Tom

SCREEN YOUNG & TENDER 'ARIZONA' & 'FACING SOUTHEAST Raising Arizona fulfills a friend's prediction that, sooner or later, Hollywood would catch up to the baby boomers' baby boom the large...

...his best "miracle" involves delivering steaks to poor families in restaurants by mental concentration, asci-fi update of the loaves and fishes...
...The "E.T...
...Even tongue-in-cheek monsters in semi-absurdist life-size cartoons need better dramatic justification...
...Hunter is impervious to his sweet talk until she tearfully announces that she is being jilted for a cosmetologist by "my fieants" (alias, fiance...
...Determined on motherhood, Hunter nags Cage into kidnapping one of five quints born to a smarmy Crazy-Eddie type furniture salesman named Nathan "Arizona" (his original name was Hoffheinz...
...Why should I wait outside," he explains, when sooner or later you'll just put me in here anyway?'' The line is the first of many rational, cool gestures on his part that gef him classified as delusional...
...But Subiela provides a profound twist...
...Perhaps some of the new films will go further than Raising Arizona, which ends with Cage dreamily fantasizing about a happy old age surrounded by children and grandchildren...
...Some years ago Kramer vs Kramer addressed custody issues with dignity...
...The Coens, recent graduates of New York University film school, make films with hard-to-classify humor...
...gets his share of cooing "oohs" and "aahs" in any theater the desire for children, as the recent Vatican pronouncement reminds us, can also occasion deep pain...
...The strength o(Man Facing Southeast is its fusion of sci-fi, fcligious, and bedlam motifs...
...Yet the weakness of the Coens' films involves a precedence of style over substance, evident, for example, in academic allusions that are seldom vital to the plot...
...That link unifies much of the madcap mayhem of Raising Arizona...
...then, without coordinating his clues and plot, he solves it for us, or at leastappears to...
...TOM O'BRIEN 244: Commonweal...
...Later, another fellow "visitor," a young woman named Beatriz, emits blue liquid from her mouth a clue to something inhuman, I suspect...
...Sophomoric theorists may defend such contrivances by citing Marques, Borges, and the tradition of Latin "magic realism...
...But Director Subiela has slipped us a mickey...
...We are given far more knowledge than the doctor...
...Th«f courtship is a matter of snatch phrases exchanged between Cage's left- and right-profile poses...
...The central couple, played by Holly Huntef and Nicholas Cage, have difficulty having children: she Is infertile, and he, an ex-con, is not allowed to adopt...
...Nevertheless, Man Facing Southeast has integrity, more than implied in some descriptions of it as "an adult E.T...
...Only in jest does the doctor ever consider 6 extraterrestrial story...
...Director Eliseo Subiela and "'Sniffed acting keep this film from descending to the cliche'of ^"sanity of the insane," found in such counter-culture films as King of Hearts...
...But his external rationality Provokes his doctor (Lorenzo Quintero) to try to solve the n<ldle of his claim...
...We are left to think, or at least to suspect, that Rantes tells the truth about his origins...
...The Coens angle toward the link of religion and family, but fear it...
...savior or lunatic, take your pick) gets up before the chorale and starts to dance...
...Raising Arizona exploits the baby boom for comic, farcical purposes, even managing a reference to the current taste for names like Jason...
...At such moments, Man Facing Southeast has a profound, tender magic about it...
...Tray Wilson) holds news conferences on the kidnapping during which he can't resist reminding the cameras of his "unbeatable prices...
...About half of Raising Arizona is ruined by the posturing of ex-boxer Randall Tex Cobb as a macho biker bounty hunter out of some sadistically apocalyptic Mad Max movie...
...Amazingly, writers Joel and Ethan Coen, who also divide direction and production credits, by and large pull it off...
...The tone of the film is set in a long opening sequence in which Cage narrates how he met Hunter, a police photographer, at his bookings...
...Yet he recognizes Rantes's intelligence, even genius, especially in music...
...Mean242: Commonweal while, back at the ranch, Nathan Sr...
...Better still are provocative allusions to Christ and Pilate, which pose a new version of the ancient question: "What is truth...
...In addition, Subiela repeatedly shows us Beatriz changing her shoes, like some Imelda Marcos from Outer Space, although he never provides a clue about the meaning of this activity...
...That is, for half of the film, Subiela provides a genuine mystery...
...The "visitor" Rantes (Hugo Soto) does not convince anyone about his extraterrestrial identity except his fellow inmates...
...in truth, it resembles manipulative double-dealing...
...While babies are a sure source of good feelings on film Nathan Jr...
...Such irony is funny, but also reveals how modernist minds handle values which they can't openly acknowledge, without (horrors...
...Who needs further proof of the value of his vision...
...Early in the film we see Rantes move objects with magical skill...
...Maybe we were in Utah," he concludes, sardonically referring to the Mormons...
...At first, I hated the scene, thinking the music had been overused...
...Blood Simple, a cult hit last year, was a comic film noir, closer to Hitchcock in spirit than any of the weak thrillers (Black Widow, Dead of Winter, Bedroom Window) this spring...
...As anyone in a mall or urban shopping area can vouch, we live in an age of Stroller Gridlock, where a human wave of Joshuas, Jasons, Jessica^ and Jennifers have inherited the earth, or at least all available open space in an aisle or street...
...Subiela shoots the film mainly from the doctor's point of vie w, but then denies the doctor access to these oddities, which are never brought to bear on the final determination of Rantes's sanity...
...Man Facing Southeast rests on a fine premise: at an Argentine asylum, doctors are amazed when a young man walks in and claims to be from another planet...
...It is closer to John Sayles's The Brother from Another Planet or David Bowie's The Man Who Fell to Earth...
...We read daily of real kidnappings by separated parents (or simply lonely adults), of surrogate motherhood, and of problems of infertility...
...appearing vulnerable...
...Cage, more understated than in Peggy Sue Got Married, at first balks at the theft...
...The best moment 24 April 1987: 243 in Subiela's film is a genuine surprise: it occurs during a concert of Beethoven's Ninth, where the doctor takes Rantes for some recreation...
...Beethoven (however we classify him) would have understood...
...The film succeeds because of this deft, early link between crime and a comically expressed need for family...
...The situation could be (and, I hope, will be) treated seriously in future films, but Raising Arizona opts for offbeat, almost cartoon-like slapstick...
...The film is only the first of five movies coming out this year about having or wanting a baby (two will be released by Disney studios, which keeps in chronological step with the interests of its original Davy Crockett audiences...
...pointing at the nursery, Hunter snarls, "Git back in thar and git me a babee.'' Her comic intensity about'' the family unit" reaches a peak when, in a wild car chase, she tells the strapped-in child, "Hold on Nathan, we gonna pick up daddee," who is meanwhile fleeing the police (plus a doberman and a mad convenience store salesman) after stealing some "Huggies...
...The Coens' strength lies in their keen, witty observation of Southwest slobbism and petty criminality...
...Perhaps movies in general should handle issues of having and wanting children with something more than comedy...
...SCREEN YOUNG & TENDER 'ARIZONA' & 'FACING SOUTHEAST Raising Arizona fulfills a friend's prediction that, sooner or later, Hollywood would catch up to the baby boomers' baby boom the large numbers of couples now in their thirties who delayed having children because of the financial pressures and careerism of the last decade...
...In long, sometimes Odious, dialogues, the doctor concedes the mental illness of touch so-called "normal life": social oppression, and his own "token marriage and alcoholism...

Vol. 114 • April 1987 • No. 8


 
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