Old 12-12-2000, 02:48 PM
(VIDEO) "Fargo" (10/10)

"Fargo" A Brock Landers Overview of A Coen Brothers Film (10/10)

After a recent viewing I realized that "Fargo" is nothing short of a supernatural occurrence. An uncompromisingly honest, bloodstained film set so far from the colorful lights of the modern day metropolis that it feels as if it takes place on a different world, yet it is completely conceivable and absolutely compelling from beginning to end. "Fargo" is just honest, great American filmmaking…

The film starts off with…Minnesota? I mean…Kansas has its white-trash serial killers/vagrants…New York has the mob (and a yuppie named Bateman)…Wisconsin has its Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer-types…Mississippi has its rednecks high on moonshine, toting shotguns and ropes…Florida has its gaudy coke dealers, Tec-9's and slick high performance cars (not to mention Ted Bundy)…but Minnesota? Paul Bunyan? Mary Tyler Moore?

Funny thing is, after watching "Fargo" it all makes sense. It's set on the snowblind Minnesota plains. It comes from Joel & Ethan Coen, who commemorated the desperate small/beer crimes of Texas in "Blood Simple", and with 'Fargo", they have masterfully uncovered what makes film noir great. A relentlessly ferocious story of more people driven blood simple by desire, anger and idiocy. The simple-mindedness is pure Coen brothers magic. (think…"Raising Arizona", "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" & "The Big Lebowski") The brothers…Joel directs, Ethan produces, they both write… aren't fascinated with beautiful or courageous people, but to dumb-as-a-sack-of-wet-hammers ones. Their quintessential character doesn't really get it, can't see the big picture, operates off motives that are base and tawdry. (think…Hi McDonnough in "Rasing Arizona" or Clooney in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" It's the same with "Fargo", about a small-time loser who sets a plan in motion on the simplistic speculation that all things will go as intended. Of course… they don't because they can't, and a seemingly simple strategy bursts into senseless violence that leaves seven people deceased and the snow slushy with fresh blood…the brilliant part being that it's all a comedy…

Our protagonist is classical…an intelligent cop who figures it all out, goes after the evil-doers and takes them down, one at a time, like an avenging angel…but with the Coens maybe there is no such thing as simple or normal…she's also in a family way (7 months). Marge Gunderson (played by Frances McDormand) is the chief of police in Brainerd, Minnessota, a tiny town 90 miles or so across the glacial tundra from Minneapolis-St. Paul. She's so spirited and nonchalant (think wood chipper-style), making most folks look like they have a depressive disorder / personality. Nothing stops her, and when she investigates two bodies becoming rigid in the snow, the blood on them coagulated into coal black jello, she turns to her deputy and asks him to remind her to pick up some nightcrawlers for her husband, a wildlife artist. In fact, the Coens get at something very seldomly accomplished in films, where the cops almost never have personal lives because they are so preoccupied and drained by the violence in their lives. Not Marge…no dang way, maam. She's from the midwest, Minnesota-style…She does her job, then puts it away and goes home for takeout fast food from Arby's and a quiet evening of watching Carson on the tube (it's 1987…Johnny's still on TV). She may not have a distressing sense of existence, but she has the certainty that rules are to be complied with and the commitment to her profession to see that they are…

For a second, it would seem that the cultured Coen brothers are goofing on the poor peasants of the plain, but then you see the magic. Those cheerful accents, driven by Scandinavian heritage, bounce crazily into the cold air…untouched by misfortune, magnitude or obscenity…"darn it" or "you're darn tootin" or "what the heck is going on?" or "cheese, but it's darn cold today, yah?". You see, the secret of "Fargo" does not lie in arrogance or snobbishness…it is all about humanity and good will…

There's Jerry Lundegaard (an ingenious William H. Macy), a peculiarly immature man who has never quite made it on his own, though he's pleasantly married to surly millionaire Wade Gustafson's daughter, Jean. Jerry, in his foolhardy search for success to prove himself in Wade's unrelenting eyes, has gotten himself deeply in debt. Thus the original idea is his…to enlist two men to abduct Jean, go to Wade (Harve Presnell) for the huge ransom, give the kidnappers a small portion (unlike Marge's favorite smorgasbord) of it and keep the rest for himself to pay off his debts. But in Minnesota nothing is simple…he hires big-talking small-timer Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and the dubiously stoic psychopath Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare), whose answer to everything is to start hitting or start blasting. With those two aboard, the plan is ill-fated (just check out the crazy indian beating the crap out of buscemi with his belt) from the start…it stumbles wildly toward chaos in the first few seconds, intensifies into a shootout on the two-lane highway that leaves three frozen stiffs in the snow, and then begins to fall apart as the thugs fall out among themselves, Jerry falls out with Wade and slowly, surely, Marge closes in…

All in all: a fascinating film that is full of unique and highly textured characters…an instant classic…(10/10)
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Old 12-12-2000, 04:02 PM

I hope for your sake you A)really are copying this from some movie critic out there or B)are dishing this type of stuff out to be published in some movie magazine

because this is great writing and I would hate to see that the only people reading it are a few schmoes on this board. This is good stuff dude - probably the best review I've read on Fargo - and if you're not publishing stuff like this then you're crazy - dont take that the wrong way - trust me it's a compliment!

Great review dude.

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Old 12-12-2000, 04:24 PM
I agree with Crynot fully and completely...

Brock, come on dude, tell us you're not wasting your talents on the Schmoes boards alone... Or at least come clean and tell us where you're drumming these up from.

GREAT review, perfect balance, perfect depiction. I wanna go rent it again right now!

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Old 12-12-2000, 05:04 PM
Sadly I never really have the time to read any of your long reviews, but if SirReel and Crynot say they kickass, I am sure that they do. I just read your FARGO review and have to say that you definitely have mucho talent, but a lot like your board posting patterns, I think you need to be straddled in somewhat.

You obviously have great writing skills but you seem to take waaaay too many tangents on the side (so and so also did such and such) and I personally find your reviews...too wordy. Call me a dumbass, but there are my two cents, as the regular Joe...JoBlo, that is. But definitely keep 'em coming...you obviously LOVE MOVIES and that's why we're all here.

For me, this movie has always been quite over-rated. Sure it was wonderfully shot. Sure the characters were well played by all and the story an interesting one. But for me, nothing about it REALLY stood out!

And I've watched it over 4-5 times now, and I STILL don't understand all the fuss.

In fact, I always thought Marge's character was too much of a caricature, and the scene with the Asian fellow breaking down in front of her, kind of unnecessary (others claim it's a genius scene).

Having said all that, I will easily concede ONE THING about this movie...William H. Macy was AWESOME in it! Wow...what a weasel! Perfectly played...brrrrrr, you just felt his frustration/patheticness growing...

[This message has been edited by JoBlo (edited 12-12-2000).]
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Old 12-12-2000, 06:26 PM
In your fifth paragraph of your review says it all. This is a humanity film. This is a people film. It is about people, cherrished people, facing hardships, screw ups, and ill fated attempts at their goal at the present.

Fargo succeeds in what lots of movies try to accomplish: it has been made into a classic film. It is packed with so many memorable scenes, so many good characters, and excellent direction and writing. But maybe the most precious and important thing about this is that it came from 2 passionate people. I am talking about the Coen Brothers.

Your review pretty much summed everything up, Brock. A good review on its own merits, but man, it was wordy as JoBlo said. At times it was like you were babbling. It seemed like a tribute or summary for the film rather than a review.

favorite quotes:

Jerry:Now we had a deal. A deal's a deal.
Carl Showalter: Is it, Jerry? Why don't you ask those three poor souls in Brainerd if a deal's a deal. Go ahead, ask them!
Jerry Lundegaard: The heck do ya mean?
Carl Showalter: [mocking] "The heckya mean?"

Gaer Grimsrud: You are a smooth smoothie, you know.

Carl: O.K., we'll go get some fucking pancakes and then get laid.

Carl Showalter: Just keep it still back there lady or we're going to have to, you know, shoot you.

Gaer Grimsrud: We split the car.
Carl Showalter: How the fuck do you split a car, you dummy? With a fucking chainsaw?

Marge Gunderson: There's more to life than a little money, ya know. Don'tcha know that? And here ya are. And it's a beautiful day. Well. I just don't understand it.

[This message has been edited by R. P. McMurphy (edited 12-12-2000).]
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Old 12-12-2000, 09:07 PM
PackBacker's bitterness comes out again:

I felt this film was a tremendous waste of my time. Maybe it was a great depiction of Minnesotan life. I sure wouldn't know. Yeah I was pithy enough to be put off in a large part by the accent....it grates on my ears.
That aside, though, I found the film exceedingly boring. Not as bad as The Big Lebowski (i.e. not outright dumb), but simply uninspiring. I didn't give a rat's ass what happened. I only hoped that it would come soon and that I could return the damn tape. I didn't laugh once. I had heard about the wood-chipper scene so that didn't even impress me.

Up until this point in time no one could give me a reason why this film was so highly rated. The claim that it captures humanity and simple folk may be true....it just seems that these folks are so far removed from anything I know (the South of the US) that I can't identify with them. I should add that I am very much looking forward to their new release.

[This message has been edited by PackBacker (edited 12-13-2000).]
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Old 12-13-2000, 11:43 AM
Thanks for the feedback guys...I do tend to get off subject and go off on a tangent now and again...I never was a good english student, learned everything I know from reading books, magazines and watching movies...I also have a tendency to obsess about finding just the right word...thesaurus -style...I will try to keep away from being too wordy...I really have no interest at this time in trying to get anything published Crynot, I am just writing these for you schmoes and because I love to dissect my favorite films (just the other day my brother bet me $50.00 I couldn't have dinner with him and his family without making a movie reference...Guess who is $50.00 richer? Not me...

SirReel, I don't think it's a waste to talk to you guys...I mean, you guys love movies too...what better place to share ideas and thoughts, however rambling they may be...oh, and by the way, it took me a little while to write this, it's not like I'm some idiot savant aka Rainman just popping these things out...I wish I was...

R.P. McMurphy, I am a legendary babbler (smile)...I will try to corral myself somewhat..thanks...

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Old 02-08-2001, 03:33 AM
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