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Nordling's Comfort Movie Of The Week! "Look In Your Heart!"

Nordling here.

It's weird how my thought process works.  Twitter is the main receptacle for me when I articulate minor things that are going on with me, and the more I post on it the more things get clarified in my own mind.  I guess writing things out helps me think things through a bit.  Anyway, I was bemoaning the fact that I really don't have the time to take in comfort movies anymore, and that I do it entirely too much.  It's just easier to put in the tried-and-true these days instead of something new, and I desperately want to get out of that habit, especially since Fantastic Fest is starting in a few weeks.  Comfort movies help relieve the tension and stress of the week, and I want to do more writing than I have been this past month.  I haven't done a YOU KNOW FOR KIDS! column lately, and I'm kicking myself for that, believe me.

So I decided this morning that I would give myself just one comfort movie a week until the end of the year.  Otherwise, if I'm sitting down to a movie, it's got to be a fresh one.  Whether it's Netflix or purchased, or a screener, I have to sit down to a new film (at least new for me, there are vast amounts of movies that I haven't seen yet, and I'd be embarrassed to say what they are) instead of one I've seen already.  Otherwise I'm just as guilty of living in that nostalgia world as everyone else, and I can't grow as a movie fan or a writer if I close myself off to new experiences and films.  So of course, this gave me an idea for a column, one that I'll need to make sure I keep up with, especially for later in the year when we'll be inundated with new product and I'll be bitching about how I don't have any time.  But I thought that I'd review one film, one movie that puts me in that happy place where everything is great and for two hours I'm just not on this world.  I'm spending it with my friends.  And that's the Comfort Movie Of The Week.  No cheats, I don't get to pop in favorite after favorite.  I just don't have that kind of time anymore - but I get one gimme a week.  And then I'd write about it here.

They don't have to be in the Top 10 All-Times or anything, they can just be movies you've always enjoyed and put in to unwind.  It's like comfort food - you know a cheeseburger every day just isn't good for you, but people do it anyway.  But you limit it to once-a-week, and it becomes a treat, something to look forward to.  That's my goal for this column, and maybe writing about a film I love will spark the homefires a bit and get me writing more.  If you're in, you can happily read, and if not, no worries.  So are you ready?

This week's Comfort Movie (and the first one for the column) is a film that I picked up this week on Blu-Ray.  It came in a box set with three other films, and these directors are just gods of cinema, in my opinion.  I couldn't let the week pass without getting MILLER'S CROSSING on Blu-Ray.

Gonna make a bold statement here.  Of all the gangster movies out there, MILLER'S CROSSING is my favorite.  Yeah, over THE GODFATHER, over GOODFELLAS, even over my favorite Cagney movie, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES.  MILLER'S CROSSING has great, conflicted characters, a labyrinthine plot that sucks you in regardless of how complicated it gets, and of course the rich dialogue, which just seems to get so much better with age.  I could spend this entire review quoting it.  In its way, for me, MILLER'S CROSSING is more quotable than THE BIG LEBOWSKI, a movie I also love but never understood why out of all the Coen Brothers movies out there that it's the one that got so universally embraced.  MILLER'S CROSSING deals with darker stuff, while THE BIG LEBOWSKI is light for the Coens (only one person dies in it!).  But through the years, of all their films, it's the one I return to the most.  Mind the spoiler tag, by the way, I'm going in deep.

Johnny Caspar (the incredible Jon Polito) breaks down his version of ethics and morality in his corrupt world - there's nothing worse than a guy who squeals.  In this case, it's "the Shmatta" Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro) who is selling out Caspar's bets to the general public.  Caspar fixes fights, with the help of his henchman the Dane (the frightening J. E. Freeman), and when the fix is in, people get paid.  But when Johnny bets with Bernie, "out of town money comes pouring in.  The odds go straight to hell."  This is all explained in an opening monologue that's one of my favorites in film.  Johnny Caspar, in his way, is an honorable man.  He didn't make the rules, but he does his best to follow them, even if those rules aren't exactly the prim and proper rules of normal society.  So when someone like Bernie comes along and breaks them, well, you have to kill the son-of-a-bitch.  It's only fair.

But Leo (Albert Finney) isn't interested in fair.  What he's interested in is Verna (Marcia Gay Harden) and staying in her good graces, and since Bernie's her brother, that means, in the parlance of the film, giving Caspar the high hat.  Leo refuses to give Caspar permission to kill Bernie, since he pays for protection.  But Caspar won't be assuaged so easily - he leaves with the Dane, letting Leo know in no uncertain terms that this isn't over: "You think I'm some guinea fresh off the boat, and you can kick me.  But I'm too big for that now!"  With a tossed-off "Youse fancypants, all a yous" (I love how in the antiquated world of MILLER'S CROSSING it's perfectly fine to be gay - "I know Mink is Eddie Dane's boy, but I don't make it that way" - but if you're weak, you're despised) Caspar ends the conversation.

When Leo's right-hand man Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne in his finest performance, and one for the books) suggests that sparing Bernie was a bad play, and not good for business, Leo brushes him aside.  Tom's in debt to some bookies himself, but it's not honorable for Tom not to square his own debts, and so refuses Leo's offer to make it good.  With a final admonishment to Leo to think about the ramifications of letting Bernie live, he leaves, and we're off and running.

All of this is done in the first five or so minutes.  It's one of the greatest set-ups in film history.  Instantly we know the stakes, the combatants, and the man caught in the middle, Tom Reagan, who the story centers around.  It's efficient, direct, and every word coming out of the characters' mouths is a jewel.  There's a rhythm to the dialogue that, even if you don't get the meanings of the specific words and phrases, puts you so deep into the language of the film that you understand completely the intentions behind the words.  It's one of my favorite opening scenes, and any writer out there worth a damn has to look at it in abject admiration.  It's four guys in a room, talking over drinks, and it's intense as well as informative.  I'm still in awe of it.

I'm not going to break down the entire film.  But Tom definitely has his own motives outside of working for Leo - he's also seeing Verna on the side, and he's not quite sure how he feels about her.  Not sure enough to let Leo know the score, of course.  Leo is Tom's closest friend in the world, but Tom is not an open book - those blue eyes are the only windows into a deep, quiet, complicated man.  "No one knows anybody.  Not that well."  He hides his true feelings, and we the audience aren't even quite sure what Tom is thinking or what his motivations are.  It's one of those iconic performances that chases an actor throughout their entire career - one of the reasons why I don't think Gabriel Byrne ever really broke out big is because it's so hard to top.  It's also the reason why Bryan Singer picked him for THE USUAL SUSPECTS, I'm sure - in a film that holds its cards as close as that one, you don't want to give anything away but you want to show as much as you can, and Byrne knows how to do that better than practically any other actor.

But MILLER'S CROSSING is full of great actors.  Steve Buscemi, as Mink, makes an impression with just one scene, and his character is integral to the plot; he's something of a sad person, used by everyone who knows him.  The only person who cares for him is the Dane - and J. E. Freeman, as the Dane, creates a villain so multi-layered and scary that he's up there with Darth Vader as an iconic bad guy for me.  The Dane may not be able to out-think Tom, but he can sure out-tough him when it matters, and he's frightening to behold when he's in his element - "Go ahead and run, sweetie.  I'll track down all of you whores." - but even the Dane seems sympathetic as Tom outplays him.  No one can outplay Tom when it comes to manipulating people and events to suit his purposes.  Marcia Gay Harden isn't simply the dame - she's deep herself and her motives are always what's best for her brother Bernie - and John Turturro is amazing as Bernie Bernbaum.  He sees the angles and plays them to his advantage; since he's not a tough guy he has to if he wants to stay alive.  The way he manipulates Tom is genius.  Finally, Albert Finney gives a sad, strong performance - greatly wounded by Tom, and genuinely in love with Verna despite knowing that she's using him as well; Finney is resolute and powerful.

MILLER'S CROSSING came about through two films - YOJIMBO and THE GLASS KEY.  The former is one of Akira Kurosawa's greats, as a wandering samurai comes to a small village plagued by two rival crime families, and sets out to make things right by manipulating each side.  THE GLASS KEY is based on Dashiell Hammett's novel, and has a very similar plot (although it's about the political world as opposed to the crime world, but you could say they're the same thing) even down to several lines of dialogue.  The film THE GLASS KEY has a rhythm and cadence to the dialogue that's very similar to MILLER'S CROSSING.  It's a terrific little film in its own right and I hope it comes back into print.  It's also fascinating to see the parallels between the two, but what MILLER'S has over it is the sense of foreboding and a looming sadness over it all, as each character plays their roles, leading them down their predestined paths.  

It's a life that Tom desperately wants to get out of - he knows the road he is on ends only in sadness and death.  The final shot of MILLER'S CROSSING, as Tom looks out from under the brim of his newly-retrieved hat, is one of my favorite final shots in film.  It's a look of true freedom, of a man who now has no ties to the world he was once a part of, and how scary and liberating that must feel.  Are we truly meant to be free?  No one to hold you back, but no one to love, or be friends with, or share in your life with in any way?  What does that mean, to be truly free?  The film doesn't answer it, and so we have to contemplate what life for Tom means at the end of the film.  It's a road that leads away from Miller's Crossing, and from the life he once led.  To truly live without debts is a scary thing, MILLER'S CROSSING suggests, as it's the debts we build in life that keep us grounded and among our friends.  With those debts gone, who knows what a man is capable of?

Why is a dark, complicated film like MILLER'S CROSSING a comfort film?  Much of it is the dialogue, which is so rhythmic and beautiful that I could just put it on to listen to.  It's also very, very funny - some of the snappy repartee between characters makes me laugh out loud even now.  Like I said, I could have just quoted the film all day.  There's amazing direction in it - Leo's tommy gun shootout, set to the music of "Danny Boy" sung by Frank Patterson, is one of the most iconic action sequences the Coens have ever done - amazing cinematography, with rich greens and browns.  For me, MILLER'S CROSSING is a flawless film, and probably not one completely understood on release.  What I think the Coens were trying to make with MILLER'S was a film that they loved in their youth - the gangster movie that is so much more than the genre.  MILLER'S CROSSING is about the ties we make with our fellow human beings and how tenuous and fragile those ties are.  It's also about the death of a man's soul and what it costs him.  "Look in your heart!" the movie asks, and the answer is "What heart?" and a gun shot.  It's a true classic, and I'm glad to have made it the first of this (hopefully ongoing) column.  Thanks, as always, for reading.  MILLER'S CROSSING is available on Amazon by itself or as part of the Coen Brothers Box Set (along with BLOOD SIMPLE, RAISING ARIZONA, and FARGO).

Nordling, out.

Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:41 a.m. CST


    by Holodigm

    I'm a horrible human being

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:43 a.m. CST


    by Geoff

    and yes you are holodigm. Classic film btw

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:43 a.m. CST

    Don't feel too bad about the vast movies...

    by bubcus

    ...that you haven't seen yet. I bought the DVD for "The Count of Monte Cristo" 8 years ago because everyone was raving about it and I STILL haven't watched it yet.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:48 a.m. CST


    by Jim Bolo

    Red Harvest and The Glass Key.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Since you are keeping the quotations to a minimum...

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    "And if you can't trust a fix, what can you " It's the principle of the thing.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Not a fan

    by Bobo_Vision

    This Coen's brothers movie doesn't do it for me.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:55 a.m. CST

    A transportive movie.

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    I can truly say that isn't another anywhere near it. And even though it is clearly based on a specific genre, even coming close as a cousin to specific films and books, there's nothing like it. It is all its own creation.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST

    If I never see him again it'll be too soon

    by ltgalloway

    Such a powerful movie. I used to hear from people that if you said Miller's Crossing was your favorite movie it was a cliche. Like saying your favorite food was pizza. I've come to realize that those people are snobs, and if it's your favorite movie then you could certainly do worse. Although it's impossible for me to choose an "all time single favorite favorite film", this one would be way up there. For me I don't even think of it as a gangster film, I think because the subtlety of the script and especially the performances transcends the categorizing limitations of being a genre film. OK, I'll shut up now. Thanks for the write up, Nord!

  • They are real-world dramas; Miller's Crossing is more like a gangster Fairly Tale.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:03 a.m. CST

    should be "Fairy Tale"

    by jim

    no idea what a "Fairly" tale would be

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:10 a.m. CST

    I love Miller's Crossing

    by matthooper8

    It's a wonderful film, a masterpiece but it's not even close to the Godfather or Goodfellas. But, I respect Nordling's opinion. He gives his opinion as opinion and not fact. Good stuff, and a good column.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST


    by ChaunceyGardiner

    I don't always get the Behind the Scences Picture quotes till I see the pictures, but you cherry picked the perfect one. "Look into your heart!" and there was no other movie. I even heard it in Bernie Bernbaum's voice, that desperate nasal squeal of his, letting loose in that crossroads forrest... Alan Cumming tried to imitate that scene in the "Get Carter" remake, and I recognized it immediately. But it turned out to be one of the most cringe induceing moments I've ever seen in film - in a bad way. I think it is because the Coens don't hate their characters in the way most mainstream films do. You may, but they don't. This makes a vast difference in what we see on screen. Even if Bernie is a rat, a "grifter who'll have grifter kids and grifter grandkids," there's a logic to him that the Coens get and preserve and allowed Turtorro to mold into something perfectly, frighteningly human. The Coens get a bad rap sometimes, are judged as being too harsh on their characters - but if you merely understand the logic of the characters themselves, the films make perfect sense; it is almost an Old Testament way of viewing human fraility. What dignity there is, especially in "Miller's Crossing" is just an overcoat in the rain. It is an inside-out depiction of character and action, not vice-versa. No matter what happens to the characters, they are who they are. They can't change it - they merely are. That may be harsh, but it is a bold statement and one that I think the Coens have given great credence to. They've given blood to the idea of it, and they showcase this view of Good and Evil in particularly grand fashion. (And what most critics lack when sufficing to say that the Coens are harsh, they forget the element of forgiveness that hangs like a light, like a circled halo over almost every Coen brother film. It is always a possibility, whether chosen or not.) But Tom, poor Tom, he exists in a world where forgiveness is death. At least he's got his freedom by the end - but we're left to wonder, what's it worth?

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Only "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Hudsucker Proxy"

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    get Dues ex machinas. And that's cause one's greek epic, and the other's Frank Capra.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:16 a.m. CST

    Nice Nordling, thanks for this.

    by annie_michael_hall

    Good post. Not too many worthwhile wide release movies out over the past few weeks and so its kind of a blah weekend at the cinemas. Appreciate your last few posts.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:19 a.m. CST

    It's beautiful - you read the quotes, and you can hear the verbal cadences.

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    Oh, you Coens.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:30 a.m. CST

    Just finished reading it, Nordling.

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    I know I already posted, but I was haveing trouble containing myself. And when I completed the reading, I saw you say so much of what I had said. Its the validation of a great movie, to have a very specific meaning for each person, to travel different roads in those people, but to have their overall view of the film come out so strongly similiar. Thanks Nordling - passionate writing. If your heart is in the writing for the other films in this newly christened column as it was for this one, we are truly in for a treat. Thanks again, as reading this had an equivalent feeling as to watching the movie. The excitement of it.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:32 a.m. CST


    by mr.underwater

    Saw Goodfellas in September, and Miller's Crossing in October. Two of my all-time favorite movies released within a month of each other. So I think it's safe to say, without any nostalgia whatsoever, that 1990 was a really kick-ass year for movies.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Yeah, I concur. It's weird how your thought process works.

    by Subtitles_Off

    It's even weirder that you'd read something like that first paragraph and think it was well-written. Geebies.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 10:49 a.m. CST

    Let us Delve Deeply into the World of "Fairly Tales"

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    Once upon a time, there was a little girl whose name came from the fact that she always wore a red riding cloak. They called her "Little Red Riding Hood." As she grew, she persisted in asking her grandmother to be trusted with the responsibility of travelling the woods from neighbor to neighbor - with whatever words of news or goods, as the need required. Now these woods were terribly dark, as they were terribly old and their great height blocked out the sun as a hand would. The floors of this vast black forrest were covered in a great second canopy of ferns that shone bright green in the pale light there, almost as though they carried their own ghostly light. Dank mushrooms thrived, sometimes as tall as the knee and as round in circumference could a cap sometimes be found that measured as wide as the little girl's head. The forrest floor was always moist with its own dew and white clouds of mist hung below the branches of the trees that kept the sun away from dispelling these. Animals stood on their haunches and watched as you walked, so proud and assured they were in this kingdom of their's. Anything could be hiding here - and often was. Eventually, the grandmother relented. She felt that, indeed, the time had come to entrust a share of the responsibility with her dear granddaughter. These days she was feeling older and more tired than usual - and so, finally, she found herself packing a wicker basket of goods for the dear girl to carry across the forrest to a neighbor who, word had reached them, was deathly ill. She looked at the small green glass window, hopeing for an auspicious sign for this day's outcome. The little girl Little Red Riding Hood took the news badly. She was currently in the middle of a videogame and could not be bothered with takeing food to ill neighbors. Grandmother would have to take it herself. Grandmother stood by the door, wondering how her gamey hip would hold up on the uneven and root strewn forrest floor. Well, taking a sprig of ginger in her teeth, no better day than today to find out. She lit out as Little Red Riding Hood called out from the den, "And bring me some licorice. We're all out. Have been for days." Grandmother remembered this as she pulled shut the door, and pushed aside the thought that she had raised an ungrateful child. She turned, and hoped to be back soon. THE END.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 11:53 a.m. CST

    Nostalgia: The Website

    by Bobo_Vision

    That should be the new tagline around here.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 12:13 p.m. CST

    This is the only Coens film I haven’t seen.

    by frank

    Guess I should get around to that. My impression is that I won’t like it all that much, though. My favorite Coen bros. movies are the ones that really reflect the Coens’ own particular idiom, like Lebowski, Barton Fink, Raising Arizona, A Serious Man and some others (not O Brother, which felt like a parody of a Coens film). This looks like more along the lines of No Country for Old Men or True Grit, which to me are like Coens lite: good movies that feel like they could have come from any number of different filmmakers.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 12:34 p.m. CST

    i've always been known among friends .....

    by westie the biggest movie fan they know. A friend in high school brought this movie up to me, and I'd never heard of it. He made me watch it and I never stopped. Excellent writing, Nord, for a truly underappreciated movie.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 12:34 p.m. CST

    franks_television, have you seen Crimewave AKA The X,Y,Z Murders?

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    Written by the Coens with Sam Raimi. It's a clusterfuck of a movie, but a must have for any Coen Brothers fan.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 12:38 p.m. CST

    The Final Scene

    by the_high_hat

    The way I read it... After a rendezvous with Verna, Tom described a dream he had in which a gust of wind blew his hat off. Verna interjects, supposing that he ran after it and upon catching it, the hat had turned into something else. Tom says no, "nothing more foolish than a man chasing his hat." In the final scene, as Leo walks away, their relationship now over, Tom pulls his hat on tight thus signifying that he's no fool. Regardless, whichever way you interpret it, it's an awesome close to an fucking incredible movie.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 12:43 p.m. CST


    by Nordling

    Once you hear the dialogue, you'll consider it very much a Coen movie. The lines, delivery, and camera shots are practically signature.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 12:45 p.m. CST


    by pleasebanme

    You should definitely check out Miller's Crossing. Yes, it's one of their more serious films, but it is rife with classic Coen brothers humor and character development. And it without a doubt contains their most impressive and "Coen-esque" dialogue (along with Lebowski). That's what is truly missing from No Country and True Grit for me, which makes sense since both are very literal adaptations. Glad you liked A Serious Man, which is my favorite film of the last decade and a truly underappreciated masterpiece.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 1:21 p.m. CST

    What is it with you and the ctrl/c - ctrl/v Chauncey?

    by Skyway Moaters

    Have some shame man. I bet I could find where you're plagiarizing from if wanted to spend the time.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 1:36 p.m. CST


    by Skyway Moaters

    You're a tool.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 1:40 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I will definitely check it out at some point.

    by frank

    Have been meaning to for quite a while. Have not seen Crimewave either but sounds pretty awesome. Sounds like kind of a companion to Hudsucker Proxy which was also co-written with Raimi, I believe. I loved A Serious Man. A lot of writing could be done about that move, I think. Just look at that parking lot.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 1:51 p.m. CST

    Take your flunky and dangle.

    by Finch

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 2:03 p.m. CST

    Possibly should there be a club...

    by ChaunceyGardiner

    of people who, after seeing this film, tried (most likely, unsuccessfully) to incorporate the dialouge into their everyday lives? I definately tried on "What's the Rumpus?" a few too many times. It was ill-fitting. Course, I was nowhere near a Speakeasy. And I'm Southern.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 2:09 p.m. CST

    Stunned by a few things

    by proevad

    The brevity of this thread, the number of film geeks who haven't seen it proper (or at all, wtf?), and people who I know aren't trolls who say they didn't like it. Hmm.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 2:36 p.m. CST

    Hey, Skyway Moaters.

    by frank

    We used to talk about the Lord of the Rings movies on here back in like 2003. Good times. Can’t wait for The Hobbit.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 2:56 p.m. CST


    by Skyway Moaters

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 2:59 p.m. CST

    Don't think I'll make until "The Hobbit" Frank...

    by Skyway Moaters

    Didn't I see you at CA awhile back?

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 4:34 p.m. CST

    Love this movie and know it's your option... but...

    by nightvip

    ... I found it difficult to read the rest of the copy once you said you think it's better then the Godfather... Godfather 1&2 are works of art... not films... works of art. However I respect that both of our views are subjective and this is a great film and you also have exceptional taste... but surely you don't really think it's better then the Godfather 1 or 2... say it isn't so!?

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 4:38 p.m. CST

    The soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal.

    by BookhouseBoy

    Carter Burwells best work, excluding Psycho III of course!

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 5:14 p.m. CST

    I like this movie

    by Eddie_Dane

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 6:43 p.m. CST

    I Can't Find a Thing Wrong With This Movie

    by Aquatarkusman

    It's one of the most densely quotable of all time, and still it's not in the same league as Godfather I and II, and its mannered cartooniness (fine for the Coens, not everyone's cup of tea) is no match for the runaway freight train that is Goodfellas. The "bad day in 1980 for Henry Hill" sequence alone is probably the finest cinema of the last 30 years.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 6:44 p.m. CST

    Hey, it's Eddie!

    by Aquatarkusman

    Have you sent somebody to a deep, dark place and enjoyed doing it?

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 7:32 p.m. CST

    One of my very favorites...

    by Red Ned Lynch in probably top twenty-five. And the "Danny Boy" sequence is top five of all time. A wonderful choice.

  • Sept. 5, 2011, 9:28 p.m. CST

    It's like I tell all of my boys... always put one in the brain!

    by tritium

    One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies of all time. Miller's Crossing is a film for film lovers.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 4 a.m. CST

    I bet you thought you raised hell....

    by goatboy500

    Sister, when oi raise hell, you'll know it.

  • The score for that movie is sheer musical perfection.

  • The way the movie was shot, the way the Coens and their DP use of perspective is deliberatly made to maximaze it's impact on a big screen. A bit of it is lost on a smaller screen. People also fail to coment on the use of sound in the Coen's movies. I say, they are experts in the us eof sound to create mood in his movies. And the best example of that is in movies like BARTON FINK and NO COUNTY FOR OLD MEN.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 7:50 a.m. CST

    1990 Year of Sequels Slightly Underappreciated In Their Time

    by Autodidact

    This was the year of Robocop 2 and Predator 2, two sequels which come off a lot better in hindsight. I feel both these movies really live up to the spirit of their predecessor, despite having a different director in both cases. Also Godfather 3 and Exorcist 3. These are less underappreciated, but still slightly underappreciated in their time. BTTF 3 as well if I'm not mistaken although I couldn't give less of a shit about that movie (after loving BTTF 2 which I thought was enough already).

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 8:18 a.m. CST

    Not a fan

    by NightArrows

    I've seen it twice. Once in my youth and more recently and I have to say, it's never really impressed me at all. I think the Cohens have done much better movies, and as a gangster film? Miller's Crossing wouldn't make my list. There is enough love for this film it seems.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 8:19 a.m. CST

    @autodidact- BTTF3

    by Knuckleface

    It took me at least a minute to realize that you were referring to the Back to the Future series. I'm not sure they've earned the unreferenced abbreviation. You are right though, BTTF3 was lame. The old west setting used too many genre cliches and it broke too much from the point of the first two. BTTF was about Marty witnessing and influencing his teenage parents, BTTF2 was about Marty seeing himself as a father and how his children would turn out. BTTF3 just came completely out of left-field, and it did nothing to enrich the stories set up in the previous two movies. What they should have done was expand the ideas of BTTF2 into two films, so that BTTF2 focused on Marty's future, and in BTTF3 he should have gone back and forth in time trying to rectify everything, winding up right back where he started in BTTF.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 8:30 a.m. CST

    @autodidact - BTTF3 ADDITIONAL COMMENT

    by Knuckleface

    And hey, don't you think Marty's dad would start to wonder why his son bares an uncanny resemblance to the kid his wife (Marty's mom) had a huge crush on? He'd start to feel a bit cuckolded, no?

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 8:55 a.m. CST

    meditation on HAT METAPHOR, etc.

    by chifforobe

    I enjoyed this post about what is easily my favorite Coen Bros. film (which is saying something!). Of course the great thing about movies that when one is this dense, we can all dig into it and mine our own jewels-- like a good novel. So-- I thought I'd throw in my thoughts after seeing the film countless times over the years. I didn't really see it as being about freedom, as much as control. Tom is a hyper-intelligent creature who, as Nordling mentioned, is a master of people and events. He doesn't want power or money, he doesn't need it-- he's cursed with the ability to get whatever he wants. (This is why he gets off on pure gambling-- to lose at something out of his control is a tasty treat.) But what does he want? Verna? Success for his best friend (Leo)? Revenge against Bernie? Justice? He has no frickin idea. The one thing he does not control is his own heart-- he doesn't know who he is, this tortures him. For a man (back then) a hat would show how put-together and in control he was-- and Tom's nightmare, the iconic shot of the film, is the loss of the hat. For all his intelligence and social powers, he can't keep a grip on that thing. So I see the film as Tom's inner battle. He is playing the character's like chess pieces, except when his own heart gets in the way-- which he cannot control. Everything that goes right and wrong is essentially his doing. When he finally achieves his desired goal at the end-- and he puts his hat snugly on his head-- he isn't sure if this is what's best, or if it's what he wanted at all. But what the hell, back to work. You can't fucking beat this movie.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 9:26 a.m. CST


    by Nordling

    Love this - "This is why he gets off on pure gambling-- to lose at something out of his control is a tasty treat." That's so true. Perfect.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 11:25 a.m. CST

    Albert Finney in drag when Tom confronts Verna in the club's Ladies Room

    by Lao_Che_Air_Freight

    One of the great blink-or-you-miss-it moments from the Coens.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 11:51 a.m. CST

    You forgot to plug "Attack the Block"

    by cookylamoo

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 8:54 p.m. CST


    by Stifler's Mom

    That's just, like, your opinion, man.

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 10:04 p.m. CST


    by Eddie_Dane

    Get the sand out of your vagina

  • Sept. 6, 2011, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Black and White...

    by Vance Castaway

    I don't think I've posted on AICN for almost a decade, but I wanted to suggest something to try for fans of Miller's Crossing. Turn off the color. Watch it in black and white. It's perhaps an even better film. The lighting used throughout the film translates very well to b&w. This works well with many, many other films of course; but Miller's Crossing is something special. It comes alive in the absence of color. Trust me. peace