Billy Bob Thornton

April 23, 2014

Simply TV: Fargo on FX

TONE

Fargo – Tone

Some movies should just be left alone…for the most part. I’m not a huge fan of taking films and trying to shrink them down to the small screen. It’s like trying to find sense in a Pauly Shore movie (thanks Clueless). See examples like, ironically, “Clueless” and “Blade: The TV Series” for prime examples of bad adaptations. You could imagine my reservations for “Fargo” the new series on FX.  I mean, how could you add on, or create a show, to a film that pretty much had a definitive ending that needed no more explanation. Well, in the case of “Fargo” I stand corrected, and I’m excited to see what direction this newest FX offering goes into.

Whereas the film version of “Fargo” took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota this version takes place in the small town of Bemidji, Minnesota. A mysterious drifter named Lorne Malvo has arrived in town and immediately begins to wreak havoc. Meanwhile, a milquetoast insurance broker named Lester Nygaard is having a hard time dealing with a demanding wife, family members that have no respect for him, and an old high school bully that loves to remind him that he slept with his wife before they were married. A chance encounter with Malvo in a hospital turns Lester’s world upside down and sets off a chain of events that leave behind quite a few dead bodies….and that’s only the first episode.

“Fargo” is developed by Noah Hawley, who had success as a writer on “Bones” but also put out clunkers like “The Unusuals” and “My Generation.” While I can’t say such for his two failed TV experiments, the name recognition of “Fargo” and the Coen Brothers on as Executive Producers certainly gives this series name recognition, and I haven’t even gotten to the show’s lead actors yet.

It’s easy to forget that Billy Bob Thornton is a really good actor, and when given a role like Malvo in “Fargo” you can see a twinkle in his eye. I liken Thornton as Malvo to Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight;” he is truly an agent of chaos. He’s a cold, calculating, yet charming drifter who befriends a down on his luck Martin Freeman, who plays Lester Nygaard. I guess my best summation of Malvo would be a combination of The Joker, Anton Chigurh and maybe throw in a little Rust Chole from “True Detective.” The great cast also includes Colin Hanks and Bob Odenkirk in supporting roles.

The one thing that “Fargo” might lack at this time is a strong female lead. I see potential in Allison Tolman, who plays the lone female police officer in the series, Molly Solverson, but will she be able to match Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson? There are quite a few similarities, including their commitment to police work and family, but Tolman has extra motivation in the series which I think will add that extra dimension to her character.  

Despite my early reservation for “Fargo” I see a very bright future for the series. Whether FX decides to continue after the initial 10-episodes, I would love to see either an “American Horror Story” type anthology direction for the series where we meet new hitmen like Malvo from around the Midwest, and hopefully some tie-in’s with the film, and perhaps situating the show as somewhat of a prequel. Either way, “Fargo” has legs, and in the deft hands of FX, I believe it will be a series that gets better and better.

Fun Fact:The tallest building in Fargo, North Dakota is the Radisson Hotel, standing at over 206 feet and built in 1985.

November 25, 2013

Parkland

Parkland: Messy

Drama/93mins/2013

Parkland is one of those films you hear about then count till the day it comes out. It peak my interest mostly due to the event this film takes place on. I’m talking about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The assassination has always been an interest of mine for awhile now because I’m the history type of guy and not a conspiracy type. Every 22nd of November I sit in front of my TV and binge watch.

So how does this film work covering the events that took place on that day? Well it’s kind of…

Messy  

Let me try and explain. If you wanna watch a good movie about this part of history watch Oliver Stone’s JFK. Parkland is really, well suppose to be about the events at the Hospital Kennedy and Oswald where taken too. Yes in the beginning we get that, but then it begins to explore Zapruder, we shift to Robert Oswald and his mother, The Secret Services agents, The Reporters and then back to the hospital. Now maybe the writers thought this was a good idea to do a film about the hospital and not the same old format. But that’s not really how it played out. Did they say, “Shit we don’t have enough material to do just the ER.”

The synopsis to this film is  “A recounting of the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas’ Parkland Hospital on the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.” But most of the film is about Zapruder and the Oswald family. Yes that was very well done and in fact both of those parts are the best in the film, but I was expecting a whole ER film with a few drop outs in setting but not a bookended film with no care toward the only parts this film was made about.

Abraham Zapruder was played brilliantly by Paul Giamatti. He is my favorite thing of this whole film. Ron Livingstion who is always great and James Badge Dale who really stands out in this film as one of the only actors seemingly entertaining to watch. Marcia Gay Harden, David Harbour, Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Welling, Mark Duplass, Colin Hanks, Jackie Earle Haley and Jacki Weaver all are included in this mass of who can we fit in here for a kinda cameo. That’s what it really felt like. Was it bad? No just a bit too much I think.

Then we have the top billing of Zac Efron. I’ve never watched that much of his work but ouch he seems to try way to hard to not be that Zac Efron. He just plays a guy we as a viewer should care about but instead we go hey you look like, right your that Zac guy. Hey he might be a nice guy, I really don’t know or care but you need to tone it down a bit. For the charactor we should care about I honestly could care less about.

This film isn’t what I was told it would be. It was good at a few things including a nice looking production, with a real time period look to them. Solid acting, here and there. And a film that even though a ton of information is missing, including that of not including John Connally who was at the same ER and in the same car as JFK. So yes the film is weak, worse in some areas but overall a messy mess.

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