Thursday, August 18, 2011

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My pal Christian Toto wonders which is better: the Coen Brothers' surreal caper "Raising Arizona," or their Chandlereqsue comedy "The Big Lebowski." Christian's all-time favorite is the former, though the latter is undoubtedly the more revered of the two, having generated enough rabid fans to inspire an entire festival in its name.

Count me as a fan of "Raising Arizona," though I'm a genuine devotee of "The Big Lebowski." It's undoubtedly the funniest movie I've ever seen, a structural delight as it deftly threads its stoner would-be detective through a Chandleresque web of bizarre personalities and layered criminality. It's perhaps the only film I can think of that could be described as both fevered and mellow, a wonderful synthesis of tone that exemplifies the Coens' extraordinary talent as both writers and directors.

I've always been baffled by the common description of the film as one that needs repeated viewings to "get," as I loved it upon first viewing in 8th grade. Then again, I had an initially lukewarm reaction to the Coens' brilliant "Burn After Reading," which morphed into adoration once I saw it on video.

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