Joel and Ethan Coen are arguably the best in the movie making business within the last ten odd years, only just behind Scorsese. And while other directors are truly brilliant, The Coen's usually have them beat in terms of unique direction, odd characters and completely capricious storylines. Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher and Paul Thomas Anderson will come into the minds of most that aren't particularly familiar with The brother's work. However Joel and Ethan Coen have EASILY entrenched themselves into the category of the above visionaries, and proven themselves as Rock stars in Hollywood, true master craftsmen. From a personal stand-point, these guys will eventually rise to the top of the charts, almost no doubt about it. Sufficed to say, they have steadily grown on me, and I try to see all of their films.
Joel and Ethan Coen's debut film; Blood Simple, made surprisingly back in the mid-80's, shocked audiences worldwide, as is often cited as their number one best, a masterpiece in fact. I didn't think so highly of it, and found it relatively dull, pretentious and too generic for my liking. Having said that, they've only let me down a few times in their career (True Grit, O'brother, the man who wasn't there,) and with already so much gold under their belt, those few missteps didn't dent my liking for them in the least.
Their second masterpiece (in my opinion) came to fruition in 1996 after the seriously underrated, masterpiece Miller's Crossing. That film happens to be Fargo, and oh boy did they outdo themselves this time. Shot in mainly one location for nearly the entire duration; Fargo takes place in the small town of Brainerd, Minnesota with some truly brilliant camerawork, to really show off the snowy terrain that captivates the surroundings. The snow never lets up, and "becomes a character in itself". (a movie critic said that) You are immediately thrown into the mix, showing the intro scene, with Jerry (Macy) making his way to a little bar to meet his two "partners" in crime. (Buscemi, Stormare) Pay really close attention to every scene in this film, not in the least of which being the opener. As it's PERFECTLY shot, perfectly acted, setting the tone for what's to come in the upcoming scenes. The conversation between the three consists of a kidnapping plot, in which Buscemi and Stormare will be paid a good sum of cash to obtain possession of Macy's wife. Jerry has planned to gather such cash from his father in-law, and his cut from the Kidnapping. Fargo delves deep into the moral dilemmas of income, desperation and Betrayal all so well, and Macy's character is the main catalyst for the reoccurring themes. Each Coen brothers movie seems to have that underlying theme, but Fargo truly exposes them even more so. Throughout the film you'll definitely be wondering why in the world these people are doing these evil deeds, but all the while enjoying it to the utmost extent. That's what I love so much about most of the brothers' films. The fact that there are so many things going on, it's impossible to look away, as the next big thing could happen at any moment.
Frances McDormand is nothing short of perfect, playing the intuitive Sheriff Marge Gunderson. She almost stole the show. The cast at hand couldn't have been any better, with every last one of them firing on all cylinders. The plot is nothing particularly special or unique. But what progresses throughout the short 90 minute duration makes it seem so complex. Twists and turns, capricious violence, and a dark tone set the mood for Fargo, and color me surprised if you do NOT enjoy it. Perhaps Joel and Ethan Coen's finest hour!
Fargo (1996) Reviews
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It is above all thanks to this flick that the Coen brothers became pretty huge. I mean, before that they had a solid cult following (my older sister, for example, introduce me to their work even before this movie was released) but it is only after this feature came out that their popularity grew up exponentially. Indeed, it became basically their first classic movie and many think it should have won the best picture award back then (It lost eventually against 'The English Patient'). Personally, I have a strange relationship with this movie (actually, I have this feeling with almost all the movies made by the Coen brothers...). The first time I watched it, I thought it was great, the second time, it was just Ok, the third time, it was great again, the fourth time, just ok again.... It's rather weird, isn't it ? I guess, it all depends on my mood. Still, there was a great cast (William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Frances McDormand), they all delivered some terrific performances and, if you are in the right mood, the whole thing is just funny as hell. To conclude, it is a classic and it is definitely worth a look, especially if you like the Coen brothers' work.
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