In the latest edition of Quick Hits, I take at look at three lesser-celebrated films by iconic American auteurs: a Coen Brothers comedy featuring a madcap performance from Nicolas Cage, the latest quirky offering from the “master of cool” Jim Jarmusch, and a family studio comedy from Richard Linklater that deserves to be counted among his best work.
Year: 1987 | Rating:
Welp, chalk Raising Arizona up as yet another Coen Brothers film that I walked away from thinking that it was aggressively…fine. And as usual, I can’t really describe why I wasn’t enthralled with this movie; I thought that ending was slightly cheesy and lame, but it wasn’t a bad ending, per se…or at least certainly not bad enough to ruin the entire film for me.
And don’t get me wrong, there’s some things to like here. There’s a handful of funny moments, and the police chase sequence is legitimately great. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter give fully capable performances, and John Goodman is fantastic, as pretty much always.
But, I dunno, man. The Coens just rarely speak to me, for whatever reason. I’m thinking that it has to be stylistic since I’ve been left unmoved by their films of various genres at this point.
Ah, well. That’s life.
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Runtime: 1 hr. 34 min.
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (uncredited)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson, John Goodman, William Forsythe
The Dead Don’t Die
Year: 2019 | Rating:
The Dead Don’t Die is clearly one of Jim Jarmusch’s weakest works. I wouldn’t even argue with those who contend that this is his “worst” film: heavy-handed social themes and uncharacteristically clunky dialogue definitely give this film a tone that defies Jarmusch’s usual polished, cool vibe.
But there’s still a lot to like here. There’s quite a few chuckle-worthy gags throughout, and one or two moments that actually made me laugh out loud. Bill Murray and Adam Driver have a very awkward chemistry that works with the tone of the film. The score is awesome, even if Sturgill Simpson’s original theme song is very overused. And it’s the kind of different and interesting take on the zombie movie that you would expect from the guy who made films about bohemian vampires and mafia samurai.
So yes, The Dead Don’t Die may very well be the most minor of Jarmusch’s work, but I’m still glad that I saw it and glad that it exists. And it’s certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever seen.
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Runtime: 1 hr. 44 min.
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Starring: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Sevigny, Steve Buscemi
School of Rock
Year: 2003 | Rating:
I wasn’t feeling too hot recently, so I wanted to watch something that was guaranteed to put a smile on my face. Y’all remember (if you’re even old enough to) those Chicken Soup for the Soulbooks? That’s what School of Rock has been for me for almost 20 years now. I hope that everyone reading this is lucky enough to have that film from their childhood that still makes their heart soar and their soul sing.
Runtime: 1 hr. 49 min.
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Jack Black, Joan Cusack, Mike White, Sarah Silverman, Lee Wilkof