Opening night this year was nearly derailed by a last minute, unplanned trip into town, but I managed to keep the thing on course. Here’s how it went down. . . .
Last year I was going to have a Coen Brothers night, then discovered that none of their stuff was available via Netflix. I rectified that situation this year by renting a couple of their movies beforehand, and decided to kick everything off with this one. Of the movies I’ve selected thus far, this is the only one I’ve seen before, but it’s been a long time. I can say it definitely holds up, and it’s a classic. A dark, dark comedy and crime story, it might not be for everyone, but it’s a gas. Every character is perfect. Good guys, bad guys . . . they are all entirely memorable. The desperation of William H. Macy’s bumbling car salesman in a pinch. The sweetness of the relationship between pregnant police chief Frances McDormand and her husband. The classic awfulness of “funny lookin'” Steve Buscemi. The cops. The hookers. The terrible buffet! In fact I have a little smile on my face just thinking about it. Isn’t that great about movies? When they do things right, they really deliver a great experience that few other things can. So much more than just simple entertainment.
One aspect I enjoyed in particular this time around is I’ve been to the part of the country where it takes place several times, and I hadn’t the first time I saw it. I’ve experienced that very specific kind of cold of a Minnesota winter, the openness of the stretches of highway, and the salt of the earth people who inhabit the smaller towns. Yeah, some of the accent stuff in this movie is over the top, but that’s part of what makes it fun. When I was thinking about this post, there was a great little scene from the movie I hoped would be available online, and I’ll be damned if I found it almost immediately. This might be my favorite exchange, by two characters who really only appear in this scene:
You want another one? Oh, alright, twist my arm:
If you’ve never seen this movie, do yourself a favor and watch it already.
Oh yeah, I did take time out to watch Game Seven of the Miami/Indiana series too.
Death Race 2000 (1975)
By the time the game ended it was getting late and I didn’t think I could make it through another Coen movie, so I watched this via Netflix on my iPad from the rack. It may shock some to learn that I’ve never seen this movie before. If it’s sort of a pulpy, dystopian science fiction cult classic, you’d think it would be right up my alley, right? Well, I guess it is . . . but it’s one of those movies you’d have to be in the proper mood for to enjoy fully (:cough: drunk :cough: high :cough:), I think. The idea here is that in the future they have this cross country car race where the contestants not only are racing to reach the finish line first, they also earn points for the pedestrians they mow down along the way. Given the budget and production values of the day, it’s delightfully cheesy. I particularly loved Sylvester Stallone as Machine Gun Joe Viterbo. David “Kung Fu” Carradine is the hero, a man mysteriously known only as Frankenstein (his secret weapon, a “hand grenade”, is literally a grenade built into a fake hand that he keeps hidden by always wearing a glove, even when gettin’ naked with the ladies; tell me someone wasn’t REALLY high when they thought of that little bonus!). The sub-plot, with something about a resistance and killing the president is ridiculous and really doesn’t matter. Hell, the whole thing doesn’t matter, if only to underscore that beautiful women in the 70s were a lot more beautiful than the scrawny ideals of today.
Bottom line is if this movie sounds like your kind of thing, you’ve probably already seen it.