FARGO
1996, Park Circus/MGM, 98 min, USA, UK, Dir: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

One of Joel and Ethan Coen’s most acclaimed films (they won Oscars for their screenplay and Frances McDormand got one for Best Actress). Cool, calm, collected (and pregnant!) policewoman Marge (McDormand) tracks the kidnappers of a used car salesman’s wife in North Dakota’s snow-covered wasteland. Salesman Jerry’s (William H. Macy) inept plot to get out of debt by staging the hoax unravels in gory fashion when his two bizarrely mismatched henchmen (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) have a falling-out. That hulking Stormare’s nonchalant, bloodcurdling use of a woodchipper at the climax emerges as both chilling and hilarious testifies to the Coens' complete mastery of tone in the filmmaking process. “…an illuminating amalgam of emotion and thought. It glimpses into the heart of man and unearths a blackly comic nature, hellishly mercurial and selfish, yet strangely innocent. If it weren't so funny, it would be unbearably disturbing.” – Arnold Wayne Jones, The Dallas Observer; “A crime gem that is darkly funny even when it's chilling -- and certain to become a classic.” – Peter Stack, The San Francisco Chronicle.


ALMOST FAMOUS
2000, Paramount, 122 min, USA, Dir: Cameron Crowe

Writer-director Cameron Crowe drew on his own memories as a teenage writer for Rolling Stone to create this incandescent coming-of-age tale (and earn a Best Original Screenplay Oscar). Despite worries from his mother (Frances McDormand), aspiring rock journalist William Miller (Patrick Fugit) lands a plum assignment covering the band Stillwater. On tour, he befriends groupie Penny Lane (Kate Hudson) and – against the advice of rock critic mentor Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) – Stillwater’s guitarist (Billy Crudup).


PROMISED LAND
2012, Focus Features, 106 min, USA, Dir: Gus Van Sant

Matt Damon and “The Office”’s John Krasinski penned the screenplay (based on a story by Dave Eggers) and star as two men on opposite sides of a hot button issue when big business comes to a small town. Damon and Frances McDormand represent a natural gas company and see their offer for drilling rights as an economic lifeline to a rural community in decline, but locals Krasinski, Hal Holbrook and Rosemarie DeWitt object to the plan. While the topic of “fracking” gives PROMISED LAND an up-to-the-minute urgency, the drama of people whose best intentions nonetheless put them at odds is timeless.


Syndicate content