Fargo - Classic Film Pick
In 1996 the Coen Brothers took black comedy mainstream with the idea that "Fargo" was "a true story." With the buzz of Tarantino's cinema of blood-guns-and-irony penetrating every nostril of filmmakers and audiences alike, the timing couldn't have been better for an unconventional crime story set in the unknowable snow-covered landscapes of Minnesota and North Dakota. William H. Macy gives the understated comic performance of his career as Jerry Lundegaard, a weaselly car salesman with big money troubles. Jerry sets tragedy in motion when he hires two hit men (wonderfully played by Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife Jean (Kristin Rudrurd) in order to get a huge ransom from her wealthy dad (Harve Presnell). The Coens embellish their pressure-cooker plot with the area's regional accent and speech patterns to tweak the comic tone lurking beneath the drama. Frances McDormand is the film's secret weapon. As the Brainerd, Minnesota chief of police, Marge Olmstead-Gunderson, McDormand is one cool detective whose provincial and humane charm disguises a keen nose for details. From its meticulous use of contextualizing camera angles and suspense-building sequences, "Fargo" is the kind of black comedy you can rediscover over and over again. The laughs and shocks never fade. "There's more to life than a little money you know. Don't you know that?"