Fargo

November 17, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 58) November 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCE

Fall has fallen and the boys at Simplistic Reviews have taken it upon themselves to kick off the Thanksgiving Month right.  There’s Ronda Rousey Roadhouse talk, an uncensored Julie, Kelly LeBrock reminiscing and a good old fashioned game of Kill, F%*k, Marry.

All this in more in a turkey filled episode of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast

NOTES
The Usual Suspects
Ronda Rousey Loss
Woman In Red
Roadhouse
Fargo’s Mike Milligan

MUSIC
My Flows Is Tight By Lord Digga
Action In Memphis By John Pearson
The Ususal Suspects Theme By John Ottman
Cast Your Fate To The Wind By Vince Guaraldi

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July 1, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 26): June 2014

 FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

The end of June brings another edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  This month the boys discuss Batman’s out of control property damage, play a game of Word Association, berate Chelsea Handler, swoon rather uncomfortably over Fargo, Godzilla’s tail and Eva Green, then promote the Patrick Dempsey 80s classic Loverboy.  Yes, we are using “classic” loosely.  All that and more on a dog days of Summer edition of the Simplistic Review Podcast.

Show Notes:
Loverboy
DJ’s Hidden Eli Wallach Reference
Mad Max Reboot
Pacific Rim 2 Announcement
Cloud Atlas Valleyspeak
Gary Oldman Apology
Jonah Hill Apology

Music Notes:
Birds & Brass By Sort Of Soul

May 4, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast: April 2014 Late Edition

On this late edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast, Matt, DJ, and Justin try to catch up on the month that was April.  They take their turn ridiculing soon to be former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling then debut a new game called Simply Lying.  The losers of this game will have to watch and review the 2004 film Torque.  Yeah, they’d have been better off fighting to the death.  We do get a pretty decent Terrence Howard impersonation from Matthew out of it and learn some of the lesser known criminal activities of Samuel L. Jackson.  That, reactions to Star Wars casting, Julie’s descent into HYDRA and much much more on this episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

 Show Notes:
DJ’s Hidden Princess Bride Reference
X-Men Days Of Future Past
Donald Sterling
Hail Hydra
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Torque

Music Notes:
Birds & Brass By Sort Of Soul
Liar Liar By The Castaways
Lawyers, Guns, And Money By Warren Zevon
The Best By Tina Turner


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY.
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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 6, 2012

Election Day Special: Election

SURPRISING
On this election day, I wanted to talk about a film that really encapsulates what most modern elections, especially this one, are about.  A revenge seeking electorate creating a candidate that looks great superficially but is merely an empty shell underneath, then propping up said candidate to satisfy their own deeper resentment for his opponent, no matter what lines they cross.  That film my fellow Americans is the 1999 comedy Election, starring Matthew Broderick, Chris Klein, and Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon.  
Election is a film that caught me by SURPRISE when I first saw it.  This was Chris Klein’s first film, Witherspoon wasn’t big yet and Broderick was dead to me after Godzilla.  So, I wasn’t expecting it to be as funny as it is.  The wholesome setting and simple story mixed with the quirky and sometimes dirty humor is a terrific combination.  It is much like Fargo in that regard.  Election and Citizen Ruth were director Alexander Payne’s beginnings in finding the abnormal in normal modern society.  They are the roots for his later films About Schmidt, Sideways, and The Descendants.  Though, Election is a little more slapstick than the rest.  Some of the jokes are subtle and hidden, like the the way Tracy Flick’s block letter buttons and posters seem to look like something else if squint at it.  Then some are just over the top hilarious, like Mr. McAllister’s encounter with a bee.   Overall, Election is as great as it is because of its characters and the performances of the actors playing them.  So, I want to focus mainly on that.  
Tracy Flick is simply amazing.  She is that girl you hated in your chemistry class that reminded the teacher to give out homework.  The girl who had a fuzzy pink scrunchy that matched her fuzzy pink sweater that matched her fuzzy pink pen cap.  The girl that would stalk the halls like a hungry lioness, accosting people with a clipboard and guilting them into participating in a food drive or a blood drive or a clothes for blind Indonesian midgets drive.  Man, I hated that girl.   Reese Witherspoon plays this overly ambitious go-getter in a scarily accurate way.  Amy Poehler, whether she admits to it or not, owes her entire character of Leslie Knope from Parks And Recreations to Reese.  Tracy Flick is Leslie Knope in high school.  It is uncanny.  Reese has gone on to do many things since, including winning the Oscar for Walk The Line.  However, when I want to point to a great Witherspoon performance, I point to Tracy Flick every time.  
It is a bit surreal watching Matthew Broderick go from being the teen rebel to the vindictive and devious authority figure.  Shows I’m getting old.  Though, Broderick plays the character of Mr. McAllister in a more sympathetic way than Dean Rooney.  His performance, as well as all the performances in Election, are done in a way where you can understand where each character is coming from.  When I first saw this film, I saw Mr. McAllister as the bad guy.  However, the older I got, the more I began to side with his point of view.  The one crying shame about Broderick is that he does such a great job in this film but in the same year he does such a horrid job in this one.  
Bar none…Bar…none, this is Chris Klein’s funniest performance.  Well, I’m not counting his unintentionally hilarious performance in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li.  Paul Metzler is the unsung comedic force of this film.  His aloof, matter of fact, ho-hum nature is so funny and SURPRISINGLY real, I was convinced for a while that Klein was pretty much like Paul in real life.  All of the narrations in this film are funny but his make me laugh the most.  
A lot of kudos should go to actress Jessica Campbell.  Her portrail of Tammy Metzler and her tragic side story is one of the most heartfelt moments of the film.  She feels real in the role and makes the emotions of a teenage sexual identity crisis seem genuine and still funny.    
Election is one of those movies that gets overlooked when it comes to great comedies.   It proves you can still get a belly laugh out of an audience without a flatulence joke or some once great comedian dressed in a fat suit.  Go out and vote…PICK FLICK….watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.  
October 24, 2012

31 Nights Of Halloween, The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

INDELICATE

As I’ve stated before, you gotta bring something different to the table in order for your horror film to pique my interest.  Stereotypical slashers bore me to tears.  Found footage ‘Paranormal Witch Projects’ are just poorly shot films with the same cheap scares as a haunted house visit at Halloween Horror Nights.  And torture porn.  Don’t get me started on torture porn. You want to scare me to my core?  Give me a film that grounds the supernatural element you are playing with in reality.  Write characters that aren’t “Lets go investigate” idiots that I can’t relate to, let alone, root for.  And an occasional loom of the prince of darkness doesn’t hurt either.  The Exorcist was that for me.  It was the benchmark for the best the horror genre had to to offer.  I’d swat away any comers trying to claim supremacy over it like an old man asked to indulge in some newfangled fad.  The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is the newfangled fad the grandson of that old man forces him to try or else he’ll ship him away to a home.  Somewhere an AARP member just sh*t their pants…um…uncharacteristically.

Now films love to slap the “Based On A True Story” label on their films.  Mainly, for the reason I stated before. Ground your film in reality and it immediately becomes much more interesting.  Sometimes, however, it only serves as an unnecessary distraction.  You get so wrapped up in if it is actually true or not. Especially, the more fantastical the film gets.  The Coens caught some flack for saying Fargo was based on a true story when it wasn’t.  The claim distracted critics from the point of how great a film it was.  You can make your film feel real without reassuring us.  But I digress.  The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is a story loosely…and I mean loosely based on the real life exorcism of German born, Anneliese Michel.  See?  I just did it.

The one thing I really liked about The Exorcism Of Emily Rose is that it is a postmortem.  Whatever the traumatic event that happened to this girl has already happened by the start of this film.  We learn about the specifics mainly through flashbacks and testimonials.  This, to me, puts the audience in the mind of the skeptic.  As the film goes on we are put in the position of either being doubtful of what we’re told happened or convinced.  Because make no mistake, this is a film about belief.  An interesting approach to the material that had the potential to make an interesting film.  But what was the operative word I just used?  It was ‘had’.  This film’s INDELICATE, rushed, stomping through the material makes it a marginal effort at best.   A film of this ilk is more effective when handled with more subtlety.  Director Scott Derrickson actually shoots the one exorcism scene in this film more like an action scene, tossing all intensity out the window…literally.

Another miscalculation The Exorcism Of Emily Rose has is the numerous divergences from what makes it good.  The film is mostly set in a courtroom, pouring over the facts of what actually happened during the exorcism.   Was this young girl taken over by demons or did her priest criminally harm her?  However, it tries to slide in some suspense with a pointless subplot involving star Laura Linney being accosted by dark forces.   It feels totally out of place and stops whatever momentum the film has built up.   I am convinced these scenes were jammed in because of studio pressure for more jump scares and exciting moments.  You see, studios hear subtlety and automatically think boring.  Their low respect for the audiences they constantly pander to usually short circuits modern horror films.

Jennifer Carpenter, from Dexter fame, does most of the heavy lifting in this film.  Now, I won’t go into comparisons of scary between her in Linda Blair.  However, I will say I was more impressed by Carpenter’s terrified Emily than her possessed one.  Tom Wilkinson is great as usual, though underused.  Laura Linney is nothing special but is still solid.  The only really poor performance that sticks out to me is given by Campbell Scott.  I’ve seen him before on the television show Royal Pains and a short bit as Peter Parker’s dad in….(Rolling Eyes With A Wanking Motion)…The Amazing Spider-Man.  In those parts, his super stoic delivery, nature, and overall presence didn’t particularly bother me because they’re small.  In this film, Campbell Scott is tasked with carrying a significant part of the film.  He is the voice of the doubters.  He is, in actuality, the secondary villain of the film.  And he has about as much personality as a creaky ironing board.  A great character actor like Victor Garber or John Noble could have put some heft to that part.  Instead, we’re left with a walking talking popsicle stick.

So, yes.  I tried another one of these fads.  But after watching The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, it might have been a better choice to just get shipped to the home.  If the power of Christ compels you…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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