Fargo (3/16/12)

FargoMovie Fifty

Fargo is one of the sharpest Coen Brothers movies. In fact, it’s one of the sharpest dark comedies ever.

The movie begins saying it is based on a true story. This is not true, but the red herring fooled even police officers at the time. At its core, Fargo is a story about money. A weaselly car salesman, played by fantastic William H. Macy, has a scheme to fake the kidnapping of his wife to get her rich father to pay the ransom. He pays two criminals, Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare, to accomplish this task. Then, everything goes pear shaped; innocent people get killed and nothing is going to plan. Enter a pregnant officer, Frances McDormand, to put the pieces together.

Of course there is much more to the meandering plot that is both hilarious and brutally violent, sometimes simultaneously. While the Coens had made fantastic movies before Fargo, making Fargo was their first truly great film in my opinion. The characters, dialogue, setting, plot, noir sensibilities, and humor we have come to expect from their films are all present and in full bloom. The Minnesotan accents and cheeriness make for a lighthearted backdrop on what is a decidedly dark film.

As with the best films, multiple viewings of Fargo unearth new secrets with each successful viewing. Fargo‘s plot is fairly simple at a high level, but close up is quite complex. Fargo is a fantastic film, my second favorite Coen movie only to The Big Lebowski. But more on that later…

I give it 5 wood chippers out of 5.

Continue reading

Raising Arizona (1/20/12)

Raising ArizonaMovie Twelve

I love Coen brother movies and Raising Arizona is no exception. One of my favorite films ever is The Big Lebowski (we even named our dog after him) and Raising Arizona is certainly a movie I could watch no matter what mood I am in.

The story centers around career criminal Nic Cage, who falls for a cop (Holly Hunter). The couple decide they want kids but can’t have any so they decide to kidnap one of the Arizona family quintuplets and raise it as their own. Like any good Coen brother film, stories twist and weave all over the place without feeling too hectic and all come back to one single place.

A few years ago, before Nic Cage became a caricature of himself, watching him in this movie he was in perfect form. Watching it now, knowing how ridiculous his career has become…Well, it’s refreshing to have the old Nic Cage back, even though he is still silly.

Even writing about Raising Arizona immediately got the theme song stuck in my head and I could probably watch the whole diaper theft scene right now.If you don’t know what I’m talking about, please do yourself a favor and watch Raising Arizona.

I give it 4 jars of hair grease out of 5.

Continue reading