Tag Archives: Jon Polito

The Set of 400: #12 – My Favorite Artist With a Thompson

Today! Because, hell, I ain’t embarrassed to use the word. I’m talkin’ about ethics –

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (x6)

Starring Gabriel Byrne (x2), Albert Finney (x5), John Turturro (x5), Marcia Gay Harden, J. E. Freeman (x3), Jon Polito (x2), Steve Buscemi (x4), Mike Starr (x3), Al Mancini, Tom Toner, Michael Jeter (x4), Mario Todisco, Richard Woods, Michael Badalucco (x4), Sam Raimi, Frances McDormand (x4)

My favorite Coen brothers movie, their earliest effort on this list, with one of the best screenplays ever written, Miller’s Crossing is a gangster movie, unquestionably, but it is really so much more. Its twisty plot of continually shifting loyalties and multi-directional romances can be a bit bewildering at first, as the whole thing is given a very light touch and seems the breeziest of crime chronicles. It adopts a comical old-timey vernacular right from the jump, and showcases character quirks and extremes so rapidly and immediately that you might suspect you’re in for a decidedly light-hearted movie. At first.

Back when the main topic of the film appears to be Ethics

But quickly the story drills down into the group’s complex, internecine strife and we’re off to the races. It’s a film I saw too young to fully comprehend, to be sure, to the point that it literally took decades of sporadic rewatching for me to pick up on everything. Not that it’s all that complicated, but to a ten-year-old it seemed just a lot of hokey turns of phrase, over-the-top shouting, and operatic violence – entertaining, but not necessarily in depth. Thanks for the early primer, early ’90s HBO! Like many of the top, top films on my list, Miller’s Crossing is something I can rewatch endlessly, but it is the rare one that fits the old saw often floated about great works of art – every time I see it I find something new.

Are we all actually Tom’s hat??

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The Set of 400: #91 – My Favorite Saddam Hussein Dream Sequence

Today! Because that rug really tied the room together –

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (x5)

Starring Jeff Bridges (x2), John Goodman (x6), Steve Buscemi (x3), Julianne Moore (x3), David Huddleston, Philip Seymour Hoffman (x6), John Turturro (x4), Sam Elliott (x2), Jon Polito, Peter Stormare (x2), Tara Reid (x2), Flea (x3), Jack Kehler (x2), Dom Irrera, David Thewlis, Ben Gazzara, Aimee Mann, Mark Pellegrino, Philip Moon

As mentioned earlier, the Coen brothers aren’t exactly flush with box office hits over their career. But coming on the heels of Fargo finally getting them Oscar attention, you’d have though their next film would fare a little better than, say, Species II or Simon Birch or Gus Van Sant’s Psycho remake or John Carpenter’s Vampires, but no. The Big Lebowski was virtually ignored on its initial release, landing in 96th on the 1998 box office chart, and garnering no significant year-end awards. Reviews were good by and large, even if it’s hard to go by Rotten Tomatoes today, with so much revision that is done to films predating the website. But I remember it being generally liked, but far from loved.

Even with the Jesus

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