Sunday, June 29, 2014

Movie Night: Cheap Thrills

So this is what it takes to make good use of David Koechner? The man known for his crass, loud, overtly chauvinistic brand of comedy turns in a great performance as an exuberantly rich man who meets our two heroes as they both are drinking away their sorrows on one particularly sad night in Los Angeles. What starts off as playful bar hijinks, first man to get a girl to slap him, escalates as the film moves on. When we finally reach the home of Koechner's Colin, the depravity continues to slowly degrade until before we know it we are seeing some horrible acts as the theme of desperation takes our characters to unbelievable lows. Ladies and gentleman welcome to a film by E.L. Katz, Cheap Thrills.

The film follows Craig, a man facing eviction who has just lost his job, as he runs into Vince, an old high school friend who happens to be down on his luck as well. Pat Healy and Ethan Embry, yah that Ethan Embry, play the two sad sacks and give them each enough charm and darkness to keep us completely engaged. While the film is often played for laughs, at no time do we venture into the ridiculous. While the dares that Koechner's character delivers to our heroes reach extremes, the script is so well done that our journey to these horrible acts seems somehow logical. Koechner is a big part of this since his character is the catalyst to all of these events. He still plays a variation of his standard role, but this time there's restraint and a sinister edge that runs through the film. We believe that he's just desperately trying to impress his way too hot wife.

While it would be easy enough to devolve into torture porn, the film never glorifies or even revels in these acts of depravity. Rather the film is shot in a simplistic but efficient manner. The camera is never assumptive, it never lingers too long it never foreshadows the horrors that are to come. It presents us this story in clear and well lit scenes with proper coverage. It spends a lot of time across our actors faces showing us the subtle changes as we journey from fun pranks to the incredibly sinister finale. Once the gore comes it is extremely straightforward. It knows when to give audiences the gut shots and it knows when to ratchet up the tension. Again the slow burn on this film is so impressive and before you know it you're on the edge of your seat tense as could be.

This is refreshingly dark comedy. Incredibly brutal yet never over the top, there is raw nature to the film that is almost sincere in its melancholic depiction of this battle of class. This is indie film showing you just what is possible with some talented actors and a great script. So far this is the biggest surprise of the year and sure to make it's way into a standard rotation of movies to suggest when people ask for something different. Entertaining from start to finish, when the last frame drops you'll have no idea what hit you. And that dear readers is exciting.


One last thought - you all know I love spoilers, stay away from other stories on this film. Watch it and comment below if you wanna talk more about it.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

It's a Date! Doctor Who Set for August Premiere

I've recently written about my new found love for Doctor Who. Wait, no that's an understatement. Most of 2013 was spent in fact devouring each season(since Eccleston) culminating in a trip to the theater to watch the amazing Anniversary special. Since then, thanks to a precocious young chap I have spent my time since revisiting a greatest hits collection across the past 7 seasons. Needless to say, this is a family of Whovians. We drank the Kool-Aid and with my son in tow we feverishly await the new Doctor as he is to arrive Aug 23.

Capaldi is amazing and I for one am beyond excited to see what he brings to the table. I imagine he will be a game changer in the same way that Eccleston was when the series was "rebooted at the turn of the century. If this teaser is any indication. The Doctor will be facing some dark times ahead. Then again we still have Moffat behind the wheel so no need to worry my friends there is sure to be plenty of whimsy and oddly colored kidneys. Fantastic.


One last thought - one more time... Just want to see them one more time

Thursday, June 26, 2014

In Defense of...The Godfather Part III (Yeah, I went there)

It's hard to imagine there was a time, initially upon release, that The Godfather Part III wasn't universally laughed at. While it did have it's mixed reviews, it had a lot of praise too, also garnered some nice box office receipts (effectively saving Zoetrope Studios - the reason Coppola did the movie - well, that and Paramount threatened to give the franchise to Stallone) and it was nominated for both 7 Academy Awards and 7 Golden Globes...okay and Sofia Coppola got nominated not for one but two Razzie's, but we'll get to that. It took shows like The Simpsons mercilessly mocking it to create a cloud around the film in which makes most people feel that they can skip it entirely (while still mocking it as if they'd seen it) or go into seeing it for the first time (or first time in years) with such negative connotations to it BEFOREHAND, that they're prepared to openly mock and hate it from the get go. I've never hated The Godfather Part III, and in fact most people I've shared they trilogy with didn't either - one girl in fact called it her favorite (a bit strange), but I'll get to that too...

It's time to defend The Godfather Part III by looking at THE GOOD...THE BAD...and THE FULL RETARD (NEVER GO FULL RETARD).

Cinematography Still lensed by famed DP Gordon Willis, this film is every bit as dark, moody and creative as the first two films. Often soaked in warmer colors and crushed in the blacks, the film looks like the same world he crafted in the early 70's...just set in the late 70's/early 80's as the other two were in their periods. In fact, want the BEST reason not to do a Godfather Part IV? Willis is no longer here...

Call-Backs & Returns Like the second film, it picks the right areas to re-create or do call-backs to (the beginning and ending, which I'll go into later). Also, most characters you'd want to return would return, either in small doses (Johnny Fontane; Enzo the Baker; Lucy Sonny's big boobed slut) or in constant background like Al Neri. Okay, so we didn't get Robert Duvall but you know we at least did get...
Corleone's Before the Dark Times...Before the Roman Catholic Empire
Still Some Great Lines There's some great lines to mock in GFIII, I won't lie, but there's still some classic Godfather in there as well, most famously is Michael's "they pull me back in!" bit. We also have great bits like "never hate your enemies - it affects your judgement," "finance is a gun, politics is knowing when to pull the trigger" and Michael's initial reply to Vincent's offer of a job: "I don't need tough guys, I need more lawyers." Which speaking of lawyers, he is trying to force (and pay for) his son to become one...

Michael Opens up to His Kids
His son resents him so much (I suppose the knowledge that your Pops killed your favorite uncle when you were supposed to go fishing with him will do that to you) and yet of course Daddy is suddenly okay when he backs his career and his power is used for him.'s a great moment when he reveals to his sons his love of his first wife and her tragic end. Then we get creepy about the cousin love thing again, but the point is still...

Michael's Descent into Loneliness & Hiding of Pain So much of the film deals with Michael's struggles to bring his family close together again and his guilt with those who are no longer there and his effect on those situations. Notice how he puts on sunglasses every time he feels he's being too openly vulnerable, like when reminiscing about his first wife...or all his female loves before he dies.

Catherine Scorsese Cameo's in both this and her sons GoodFellas in the same year. Top that.

Andy Garcia calls upon the Corleone Holy Trinity Fun Fact: De Niro wanted to play Vincent! Aside from how awesome or terrible that could have been, we have to give Andy big credit, this dude had to romantically play off Sofia Coppola, that ain't easy. But more than that, he somehow finds ways to play off Sonny's temper, Fredo's naive innocence and Michael's almost unspoken smarts with this character. He also sucked up to the right family member early on...

Connie's Descent into being a ruthless old Hag She's a wimp in the first film who lets her husband beat her yet cries after his GFII she's little more than a whore throwing the goods around to any man who will take them, though by the end she's finding herself siding with Michael. Here? She's basically gotten pure evil, getting Vincent in with Michael so business won't get too straight or Michael too weak, ordering hits without his permission, chastising him for giving confession. Her descent is no better explained when, after she tells Michael he'll be feared again, he replies "Maybe they should fear you."

Passing the Don Torch Great moment that's important in one way or another to every GF Film, and equally important here. Vincent immediately bows in respect realizing his days of tutilage are over, and Neri and his goons pledge to the new Don and this time...Michael gets the door shut in his face.

This Guy I mentioned earlier one girl I showed the trilogy to ended up liking Part III the best... now, I'm defending this film now, but I'm not stupid, and this was strange...then I found out her reasoning, "Eli Wallach of course!" Oh...okay. Another friend once mentioned to me "Even Eli Wallach couldn't save that film..." So anyhow, you gotta love this sweet old man as snake slithering through the grass into a false sunset. RIP, Tuco!

Joe Zasa's Dapper Don Just like certain characters and moments in the first two films were adapted from real life characters and situations, GFIII continued on this tradition, which things like their own take on the "30 Day Pope" and Joe Zasa being this film worlds take on the Dapper Don, John Gotti. When Michael openly mocks him for his fancy dress and positive press in front of the Mafia Commission, it's a classic GF moment in which extended emotion (humiliation for Zasa, humor for the rest of us) leads to blood...speaking of which...

Andy Garcia tries to protect Pacino from the vile hatred of Godfather III and most films he's been in this century...
The Hits This film has no shortage of what the series is maybe best known for (aside from lines of advice that somehow work both for the mafioso underworld and 9-5 working-class guys), which is hits and whackings that never fail to surprise or be inventive. From the helicopter ambush on the Commission, the parade hit, the backstreet in Italy or...

The Final Montage Just as this film opened up similarly to the first two (a celebration/party/event of some sort) it ends similarly too, Michael and co enjoying some kind of alibi as the dirty deeds go down. In this case Michael's son sings in a dark play about betrayal and murder in Sicily...brilliant.

This Moment & Editor Walter Murch
GFIII was cut by three different editors, but it was Walter Murch who pieced this moment together. He was reportedly so annoyed at hearing this constant screaming of Pacino's voice when another editor put together the initial cut in a edit suite next to his it led to him taking it out completely for most of it's duration. We end up having Pacino's finest moment on film, the fruition of past sins coming back to haunt him and the final descent into loneliness. His pain is all on screen without the need for the scream and it leads into a montage of Pacino dancing with the various women he loved - his first wife, Kay, and his daughter. You can say all you want about the film, but if you don't give this scene credit as one of, if not, the finest and most powerful moments in the trilogy, you can bite a bullet instead of an orange.

I want Kay Adams to be brutally murdered I really don't think that's the point of her character, you know, to make us hate her and come to be as angered by her presence as she is in Michael's, but man she annoyed the piss out of me. She's a walking contradiction that likes to forget she'd still be teaching preschoolers for minimum wage had Michael not shown up and taken her into his limousine.

Pacino misses the mark of Michael This is in the bad rather than full retard because there's two sides to this coin. While we do get those character moments reminiscent of who he was decades earlier ("never tell anyone what you're thinking") he often pulls later day, Big Boy Caprice Pacino and just yells and gets mad. It doesn't seem like the Michael we knew. The flip side is, here in GFIII, he's dealing with a lot of anxiety issues and, for the past decade of the two in time spent between films, has tried to reconcile the zombie he had become and things just never seem to work out for him to get clean of it all. It may be the cracks in that exterior he just can't help but show at that point in his life...

Michael's Death Fun Fact #2: Coppola wanted this to be called The Death of Michael Corleone. Anyhow Michael dies a lonely, old man in some ways that's perfect for his character arc, especially with how he's going in this film. However I know many fans wanted to see a Michael go out with a bullet, a live by fire die by fire end to a ruthless Don.

George Hamilton I know these films are basked in warm colors but did he really need to add to it? Speaking of things that shouldn't be added to a film...
"Just imagine it, cuz, a real life child right out of the Hills Have Eyes..."
Cousin Love I don't think I need to say more...

Elements of the Rome Scandal Story A lot of this film deals with the theme of, the higher you go up the ladder and more legitimate you try to become, the more crooked and illegitimate you must be. I love a lot of the Rome dealings in this film, and theres some great shots involving it (the Pope going "over the top," the money changer hanging) but elements could have been handled better, clearer and more interestingly so. I believe they would have if Paramount had given Coppola what he wanted...


Sofia Coppola We get it at this point, if you're related to Francis Ford Coppola (and it seems about 71% of Hollywood is) you're going to get a job, even if you change your last name to Cage. I also get Winona Ryder had to back out of this role last minute. That being said Sofia Coppola deserves every bit of hate she's gotten for this role. If I heard her try to sexily say "cuz" one more time I was going to pull a Ghost Dad and call her up, morph through the phone and clip her myself.

No Robert Duvall So many minor and major characters came back it's a shame that Michael's right hand man, the one who put up with all his "whack all my enemies!" lifestyle, is nowhere to be found aside from his son. Even worse is Coppola planned to build the film, much like he had I and II, around the way Michael's actions lead to or are effected by the death of a Corleone brother...Santino in GFI, Fredo in GFII and then Tom Hagen the adopted brother here. SCREW YOU...
Pacino smirks thinking Francis is joking as he tells him Paramounts demands
Paramount Pictures Not only did these bums blackmail Coppola into making this (by threatening to let Sly Stallone make Part III) but then when Coppola asked for six months for him and Puzo to craft a script? They gave him six it'd make the Christmas '90/Oscar deadline. Topping it off with cutting the budget and thus forcing Duvall out as they couldn't afford his salary. If you do hate this movie, blame Paramount, not Coppola.

This film has problems...yes. The biggest being it's a solidly put together film that not only followed two absolute cinematic masterpieces, but it did so nearly 20 years later. All that time and hype will kill a movie (just as George Lucas). Had this even been a legit 10/10 masterpiece it would have probably taken until, well, give or take now for it to be fully appreciated. No, it's not the first two films, but it's better than an exit wound. I'd rather have the Godfather saga with it than without...

Dear Mr. McFarlane, Some Thoughts On A Spawn Film That Won't Suck

The 90's were a lonely and desolate place for comic book films. Blade would come at the tail end and show us all that it was possible, but looking back at what we got during this decade, the quality was abysmal at best. Now there are of course exceptions, but for every Batman Returns, we have Batman and Robin. The 90s are also responsible for giving us Image comics. The flagship title, Spawn, was a victim of the horrible treatment that the 90s gave these wonderful properties. I recently revisited the film in the hopes that it was far better than I remember. Alas, the film has little redeeming value, and at best is a nonsensical cgi mess. In my narcissistic ego trip, I humbly propose this open letter to Todd McFarlane, were he ever to get his dream of a second Spawn film off the ground here are a few notes for you my friend. These are aspects of the film that could've been fixed with just a little bit of love and thought.

1. First and foremost, have a good script. Usually this goes without saying, but my god the script for the first Spawn film is the definition of lazy. Everyone talks about the motorcycle scene as being superfluous and just completely ludicrous. This is true, but there are countless more examples of the screenwriters seemingly not knowing what to do so they just invent more powers for Spawn. Now let's be fair, technically Spawn has the power to do anything, it just depletes his power supply and when he's out, he's back in hell. Do they mention this? Well Violator makes a side remark but NO absolutely not. He barely even uses his cape and chains... which we'll get to in a minute. But literally at one point he develops x-ray vision, has a mixture of phasing ability and telekinesis, and then laser eyes. All in the span of one minute. This is just one example, but please give us a story that makes sense, and a Spawn that has actual motivations.

2. If you can't make the CGI look good, don't use it. Ok this might be unfair, but the effects in this film are horrible. I feel like this was made at a time when people were starting to figure out just how incredible CGI could be, but the technology simply wasn't there yet. The scenes in hell are laughably bad, and holy shit for how visually arresting his cape is in the comics, here I cringe every time I see it. Plus his signature ability is usually tinged with a green glowing light, again seeing him use his powers here just gives me nightmares.

3. Don't try and do so much, tell one good story. This kind of goes hand in hand with the good script, but this movie introduces three villains. There's absolutely no need for Spawn to go down to hell and fight Malebolgia. Also, Jason Wynn has way more power than to put that pacemaker in his heart or to even get his hands dirty as much as he does here. You could tell a great story about Spawn learning what he is and being trained by Cog, while Angela is chasing him.

4. Spawn doesn't ride a motorcycle

5. Spawn isn't a martial arts master

6. Cast Josh Brolin as Wynn, and John Boyega as Spawn. Just cast people who care. I like Martin Sheen but I'm pretty sure he's never read a comic in his life. As for spawn you need someone who can carry a dramatic performance with boiling tension underneath. Boyega would own this role, of Abrams ever let's him free from a galaxy far far away.

So there you go Mr. McFarlane, the key to success is in your hands. Ultimately though, as long as we get some talent behind the lens, there could be hope for this story. The 90's have us neutered versions of our favorite super heros. Pale imitations created by people who obviously had no interest in the characters or source material. Burton was able to make an amazing comic book come to life, and he cast actors able to pull off that incredibly stylistic way of moving and speaking. Captain America with Salinger Jr not so much. Now studios are better, at least some of them see the importance of staying true or at least respecting the source material. On second thought, give Spawn to Burton, get Keaton for Wynn, Ewan McGregor as the redeemer and I'm in.


One last thought - some quick trivia... del Toros cinematographer was the DP on this. Wow.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cool Stuff From Cool Directors: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson is having a great year, with The Grand Budapest Hotel receiving some of the best reviews of his career, he is poised to be a big contender at the end of the year. Production design alone deserves to be recognized. The film itself is amazing in how it evolves his form while being undeniably an Anderson picture.

Anderson has evolved his style over the course of his career and has kept true to his particular idiosyncrasies while fine tuning some of his visual aspects. Anderson creates films that exist in a heightened reality, and he gives us this feeling with his perfect compositions and his perfectly chosen color palettes. His films evoke a sense of whimsy and wonder as characters bring these moving paintings to life. They are Americana come to life with a melancholy adoration and just a hint of darkness underneath.

So in my search for this column I wanted to find something I had never seen. His work for Prada and Amex was pretty popular, albeit great. I still wanted something less known. I was excited to come across a Stella commercial that I had never seen before. It was created with the help of his longtime collaborator Roman Coppola. We already know how much Coppola loves the sci fi super spy films of the sixties with his best and first film CQ. This short commercial takes a young couple on a date coming home for a nightcap only for the girl to find a plethora of inescapable switches and lights. The apt is bathed in Anderson's favorite warm tones with glimpses of cool as accents. The short commercial captures the fun whimsical nature of Anderson's work while keeping that slightly sinister nature just under the surface.


One last thought - he sure loves that dark eyeliner

Movie Night: Thoughts From The Pile - The Fearless Vampire Killers

Polanski has been quoted as this being one of the films he is most proud of. With works like Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby, and Chinatown in your oeuvre to say that this horror comedy riff on Hammer Horror is shocking to say the least. I bought this movie while I was in college and burning through Mr. Polanski's body of work. The man is a master of tension, imbuing each film with a wonderfully dark comic wit and evil constantly bubbling to the surface in the definitive slow burn. I was excited to see what this man would be capable of when playing in a more comedic wheelhouse. What he accomplishes is a pitch perfect send up of the Hammer films of that era and a film that overflows with exuberance.

This is by far NOT his best film, but that doesn't mean it doesn't fit neatly within the rest of his films. You can tell how much fun Polanski had while making this film. The film is incredibly witty as he skewers the vampire genre all while keeping up the impeccable cinematography and perfectly framed scenes. This is horror comedy as only Polanski can do. The film takes place in a small Eastern European town as an aging professor and his protege are on the search for vampires. When they stop at a local inn they get what they asked for as they become entangled in stopping Count Krolock from terrorizing the townspeople.

The Hammer Films always had amazing surreal sets. They always took you away to a magical place, almost like a fairy tale. Polanski nails this, as we journey to the snow covered castle of the vampires we are swept up in the dark majesty of it all. The production design gives you the necessary texture and feel to bring you in. You feel how damp and cold it is as our heroes bumble and stumble through the countryside to save the pretty girl and stop the count.

While the film dives far deeper into comedy than most of his other work, complete with a Jewish vampire who laughs at a cross and complains about the other vampires having more money, the film also contains some of his trademark themes and tropes. First off, we have the idea that love blinds us all even in the face of evil. Young Alfred is deep in love with the innkeepers daughter, even after he has gone through a transformation, he still longs for her and believes he can save her. This theme is carried on Rosemary's Baby, and even in Chinatown. We are also presented with an indictment of the upper class. The vampire is of course an aristocrat, and is obviously the villain. But look at The Ghost Writer, Knife in the Water, Chinatown, and we see members of the upper class acting above the realm of morality or at the very least feeling a sense of entitlement. I love that even in a film that is so obviously made for "fun" that these consistent themes of Polanski's work seep in uncontrollably.

How much better would life be if Stephen Sommers cared more about making a proper film than having fancy fx and a good looking cast. This is a vampire story with an unlikely hero and wonderfully dark wit. Polanski never misses a step as he delivers his signature gorgeous and emotionally charged cinematography backed up with a strong albeit silly script.


One last thought - coffin bobsled.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cool Stuff from Cool Directors: Rian Johnson

Rian Johnson has just been announced as Writer/Director for Episode VIII. This is easily the most excited I have been about the possibility of new Star Wars. I think Abrams will do a fine job, but with Johnson we are going to get something special. He is going to deliver Star Wars in a way we never thought possible. Hopefully.

In celebration of this incredible announcement I wanted to take a look at some of his more obscure early work. I love seeing where directors come from and how their style developed from its first seed of creativity. Here we have his very first student film, which apparently can also be found on the Looper blu ray, Evil Demon Golfball from Hell. With a kitschy title and superb use of sound, even in this amateurish homage to schlock we see his talent emerging. Also of note his use of special effects as seamless, which we see later on in Looper. He brings the Golfball to life and uses only images and camera angles to create this story of paranoia and absurdity. It's poor quality video, but an intriguing look into modern master.


One last thought - please let him direct Bats.

Nerdlert: ok NOW go buy a Wii U

It's been some time now, so you've all had a moment to absorb everything you saw at E3. One thing that is incredibly exciting on all fronts is just how focused on content everyone has been this year. No bullshit pettiness from Sony and Microsoft, and Nintendo finally gives people a reason to buy their system. Full disclosure first, I am a huge Nintendo fan from day one. I love everything about them, and while their treatment of the U has been confusing, I hold to the fact that it's an amazing machine that is full of potential. For today I want to look at a few parts from their digital presentation and talk about some of the new content we have to look forward to.

Nintendo enters a new category with Amiibo

I don't own Skylanders or Disney Infinity. I really have no desire to either as I feel like that's a never ending black hole for some mediocre gameplay. I know, both have their fervent fanbases that would argue the latter, I just don't see the games being much more than a fun gimmick. That isn't to say that Amiibo will be any different.

Amiibo are small figures that hold stats and upgrades that you have done to various characters. You can then tap the figure to any Wii Pad and your character would join in the game. So far it appears as though that character can assist you, or you can fight against it(the example they showed was for Smash). That in itself is a bit weird, as I'm not entirely sure how you would level up a character you are not in control of, but there are some intriguing aspects. Mainly, that you don't need a new peripheral in order to utilize these new figures. The pad is already set to accept these new figures, and the demo that was showed made the process seem to be quick and seamless. Mario Kart will eventually be able to use these as well and Mario Party further down the line. I'm not completely sold on these yet, but Nintendo has me intrigued. If this is indeed going to offer a new dimension to gaming as well as be a fun way to transport stats and characters I'm in. Besides this figures are badass.

Nintendo shows you what would happen if they developed an FPS

I really hope Splattoon is as awesome as it looks. The idea of Squid/Human hybrids trying to use paint guns to cover levels sounds amazing. The video shows off some amazing elements such as the ability to change into a squid and swim through the paint, only to jump out change back and shoot in midair. The gameplay looks appropriately fluid and smooth, and in the video you get glimpses of the different types of weapons you can get including a paint bazooka. This is a new venture for Nintendo and it looks to have all the charm and ingenuity as anything else. There is a childish glee and incredible imagination on display and I can't wait to see the end result.

The Big Guns

New Zelda announced and a promo reel is shown. That should be enough to sell more than a few systems. The single greatest franchise has a new entry on the way and holy shit it looks incredible. This is, of course, to be expected considering the strength of the U in relation to previous systems. More exciting though is the developers desire to create a game more in line with the very first Zelda than the current iterations. Meaning they want to give us an open world and non linear experience rather than the seemingly open world we have now but that is extremely tied to one line of progression. The Zelda games are always amazing, and I can't wait to see what this next one brings. The idea of a more open world that we can explore sounds incredible. The side quests are always fun to do, and they would add some new dimension back into this flagship title.

Nintendo showed plenty of other games. I didn't even touch on the immense cast of the new Super Smash, but ultimately I'm happy that we all have so much to look forward to in the near future. Hopefully people will begin to realize how great of a system the U is.


One last thought - Wii Fit Fighter?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why FARGO is the best show on TV

Fargo is the best show on TV. It will easily go down, along with FNL, as one of the best adaptations from film to television ever. Just like FNL, the show is smart enough to tell new stories. This isn't a retelling of the events we already saw in the Coen's masterpiece, rather these are new characters in new locations. For these people Fargo is more of a representation of darkness. As we see corruption and evil invade the lives of our characters, the shadow of Fargo is ever looming.

Let's get the plot out of the way, Martin Freeman plays a meek insurance salesman who comes across an assassin in the hospital which leads to a life long bully getting murdered and Freeman, in a fit of rage, killing his overbearing wife. This sets off a string of events which involve more killing, more lies and Freeman is just constantly trying to stay afloat as he drowns in a pool of the darkness of man. Throw in a few gangsters, a corrupt business man with some ties to a familiar stash of money, some bumbling cops trying to prove their worth and one can see that while this is a different story, they have kept the quirky and well defined characterizations present in the original film.

The spirit of the original is here in every frame. We have something undeniably Coen inspired, yet different enough that the show is able to exist as it's own animal. The stark snow photography is juxtaposed against extreme scenes of violence drenched in blood. As we get to the city, those subtle noir touches become apparent as shadows creep in the frames lot by failing streetlights. Each show begins with an establishing shot, showing us the bitter cold of nature, only to be invaded by man and corrupted.

This thread of corruption weaves in and out of the story as we see it invade each character. Freeman is the the everyman who has been pushed too far. Representing the capabilities we all have for evil to overwhelm us. Then we have the gangsters from Fargo, men who are criminals because it is easier for them. And finally we have Malvo, who is perhaps the greatest character on the show. He is the evolved man, making no qualms or apologies about his actions, rather he is Darwinian incarnate. He knows that one thing is important, and that is survival. He has made peace with the darkness within everyone, and he taps into it as he moves through this world creating shock waves and leaving a body count in his wake.

The show is approaching it's first season finale and with each episode the characters become more complex, the plot becomes deeper and we are drawn into the darkness of Fargo along with everyone else in these Midwestern towns. We are hunters all of us and whether we live or die is dependent on our acceptance of that fact. Astounding cinematography, great acting, and incredible storytelling helps to both honor the original and make this show an incredible piece of work all it's own. With a jet black streak of humor this is an American tale of falling from grace and journeying through hell with the other doomed souls.


One last thought - wtf are you doing Dennis?