RARA-AVIS: Re: There Will Be Ham (Recent Crime Films)

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 28 May 2008

John wrote:

> since you didn't mention them, I'm sure you don't feel the same
> affection for
> RAISING ARIZONA or THE BIG LEBOWSKI, both crime films by the bros
> Coen,
> albeit more stylized and comical ones. both brilliant exercises,
> where I come
> from

Oh, I like them fine. And in fact, THE BIG LEBOWSKI in particular shares much of the sensibility of Ethan's stories; a sort of pulp- through-the-fun-house mirror angle that I really go for.

And Dave wrote:

> I agree about The Lookout, a small but very well made movie. I don't
> why, but Before the Devil Knows You're Dead left me cold. It should've
> been a movie I liked, it had all the ingredients for it, but the
> ending just didn't work for me.
> Btw. I agree about Big Lebowski--it's one of my favorite movies, but
> then again, I've loved most of the Coen Brother movies--Barton Fink
> next in line after Big Lebowski. Very cool what they did with their
> homage films to Cain, Hammett, Chandler and Thompson. The only movie
> of theirs I didn't like was No Country. That one left me wondering why
> I wasted the time and money.,

I'm sorry you didn't like NO COUNTRY. But if you think that's the Coens' worst film, for God's sake stay away from their version of THE LADYKILLERS.

I'm with you, though, on BEFORE THE DEVIL. All the parts were there, but it didn't gel at all for me. And it really should have.

But there was no fire -- it all seemed curiously flat. One of the most tired, dispassionate movies about passion I've ever seen, like 60 MINUTES doing a by-rote report on the events depicted in BODY HEAT or THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. Maybe Hoffman was tired. He was only in 437 movies last year. Which left the thespian heavy lifting to Ethan Hawke.

But it was more than just the acting. It was the approach to the story itself that felt off. There was a sense of exhaustion to it before it even began. Maybe that was the intent, but it didn't work for me...


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