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Influences and Inspirations, or "Turn to the right!"

We watched "Raising Arizona" last night on DVD. The ten-minute opening "prologue," before they even roll the credits, is simply classic, as they establish all the characters, introduce the plot, and set up the whole movie while Nicolas Cage's heavily accented voiceover (since when did people living in Arizona have Southern accents) keeps the whole thing moving along until the yodeling and credits begin. Unbelievable.

I remember John Kessel introducing Andy Duncan at a local reading for Duncan's short-story collection, and Kessel said that he thought "O Brother, Where Art Thou" could've been written by Andy. That's an awesome compliment.

I've been adding all the Coen brothers movies to NetFlix, and now that we've seen "Blood Simple" for the first time a few months ago (talk about your plot twists and people coming back from the dead!) and now "Raising Arizona" again, we have "Miller's Crossing" (haven't seen it yet, looks good if a whole lot darker than "Raising Arizona") and "The Big Lebowski" already at home waiting for us. Sweet!

I own "O Brother" and hope to watch that again. I may even watch "Barton Fink" again, even if last time I watched it I was quite disturbed by it. And of course there's "Fargo" and the new one with Clooney and Katherine Zeta-Jones that's supposed to be good.

I like the way the Coen brothers make unclassifiable movies. They're comedies, they're mysteries, they're fantasies, they're retelling of legends, they're lots of things all thrown together, held together with wonderful plotting (I'll never forget the nice jolt I felt when I saw the flood at the end of "O Brother" and how perfect that twist was).

And the writing and dialog is awesome. I laughed my ass off at almost every line in "Raising Arizona." (Of course I can't think of any of them this morning!) And I love the character of Leonard Smalls, the biker dude who tracks down the kidnapped baby. A perfect mix of fantasy and comedy and drama -- the final scene of the movie, as hokey as it is, sort of got to me when Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter are old and enjoying their children and grandchildren...

If you've found movies that even come close to the Coen brothers' work, I'd love to hear about 'em. I find their movies quite inspirational. All of this is sort of percolating back in my brain as I think about the plot and characters and situations for my next novel. It's a cool feeling.

Speaking of cool, the collab with Tim and Greg is going great, at least I hope it is after sending them my portion. I hard the hardest time thinking of what to add to it, and then this morning it all sort of clicked. Or something clicked... Maybe it that yodeling at the beginning and ending of "Raising Arizona" that did it. It's still echoing in my brain...

Now Reading:
Tapping the Dream Tree, Charles de Lint

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