Fargo - Special Edition
MGM Home Entertainment -
1996 - 98
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Famous for taking two nickels out of an old piggy bank and being able to fund a fantastic movie, the Coen brothers make it big again with Fargo. A sometimes-misunderstood movie, this very black comedy is not everyoneï¿½s cup of tea. Fortunately, it is just the brand of tea that I can appreciate. A film that doesnï¿½t need monstrous explosions, elaborate sets, or technology-busting special effects to be effective, Fargo is a fantastic character-driven movie that showcases what happens when you couple great writing with seasoned directing. The result is a movie that looks, sounds, and feels like no other movie. It is truly a unique independent film.
Jerry leaves the scene.
Nominated for seven Oscars, Fargo is the twisted story of Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a man who wants to have his wife kidnapped and then be held for a $40,000 ransom. Then Jerry pays the ransom and gets his wife back. Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul, you say? Well the obvious catch is that it is not going to be his money. His wifeï¿½s father, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell), is very wealthy and will be supplying the money. Jerry tells the kidnappers that heï¿½s getting $80K from the old man, and is giving them half. Fair? Fair. What Jerry doesnï¿½t let on is that heï¿½s actually going to milk the old coot for $1 million and keep $960K.
Sounds doable, right? Well, after the deed goes down, the not so savvy perpetrators run into a little trouble in Brainerd (a town name that inspires a good chuckle), and they end up killing a state trooper and two unlucky dopes that happen to be driving by at the wrong time. After the state trooper gets killed, police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormandï¿½s Oscar winning role) is put on the case. A loveably goofy pregnant cop, Marge and her patented Midwest accent win you over from her first ï¿½youbetchaï¿½. Not as fresh-off-the-turnip-truck as some of the deputies working for her, she is hot on the trail of Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) from the time the first shell hits the pavement.
A fairly twisted movie with an equally twisted ending, Fargo is one of those love it or hate it kind of films. I happen to love it, and the incredibly inventive method of execution in the closing frames is one that will keep you talking. Successful in two of its seven Oscar bids (the aforementioned best supporting actress for Frances McDormand, as well as best writing for Joel and Ethan Coen), Fargo deserves all the accolades it receives. Certainly not the type of film to recommend for everyone, hopefully the intelligent movie viewer in your household appreciates this one for what it is.
Donning a new anamorphic transfer, the video on this release is far superior to the previous release. Gone is the top of frame flicker that was painfully present on the previous release. The color white regains its former in-theater dominance. The grainy snow scenes from release one are recycled and refurbished to a much better presentation this time around. The darker scenes hold up well under scrutiny, and contrast is solid throughout. A DVD that someone actually watched when they planned the layer switch, the event happens in a fade to black sequence when there is very little audio action.
As I was pleasantly surprised and pleased by the improved video, I was anticipating and half expecting the same type of improvement in the audio arena. Sadly, the improvement here is nowhere near as noticeable. Though the fronts delivered good atmospherics like crunching snow and exhibit terrific separation, the rear speakers miss just like they did the last time around. Transitions are soft, and the silence throughout is borderline disappointing. They do speak up in some of the high-tension scenes, but hardly enough to make up for it. The center delivers the main audio feature in the crisp dialog department, and the subwoofer chimes in occasionally. Though Fargo isnï¿½t an erupting bass kind of release, I still expected a little bit more from a re-release.
This new release of Fargo shines in comparison to the earlier release. A true movie-only feature the first time around, the Special Features section boasts a whole new boatload of features. Though I would have liked screen-specific commentary from the Coen brothers, it doesnï¿½t surprise me that they didnï¿½t bother, and Roger Deakinsï¿½ commentary does suffice. There are two different featurettes, one from ï¿½The Charlie Rose Showï¿½ with Frances, Joel, and Ethan, and the ï¿½Minnesota Niceï¿½ documentary, which holds a few gems. I wonï¿½t spoil those for avid fans that may not have all the inside info. The rest of the supplements are nothing overly special, but show that the filmmakers did a good job of digging up whatever they had on the subject to add to the DVD. This release of Fargo is far superior to the first release, and is overall a very satisfying refurbishing job.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Ya, youbetcha! A film that is so original it almost defies categorization, the DVD got stiffed the first time around and makes some improvements here. A must own for fans, a must rent for anyone who hasnï¿½t seen it.
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