Sunday, October 04, 2009

Black Sheep presents: The Belanger Brothers vs. The Coen Brothers


All this week, Black Sheep will be taking a look at a different Coen Brothers movie each day in anticipation of their latest release, A SERIOUS MAN. Well, I am anticipating it; my brother, Matthew, is certainly not. In fact, I would think that he would be seriously boycotting A SERIOUS MAN but that would imply that he cared and when it comes to the Coen's, my brother likes to exert as little energy towards them as possible. This is why it surprised me when he agreed to partake in a little back and forth about four of the Coen brothers more prolific films with me. This would mean he would have to think about them and maybe even watch some of them again. He really came through though and for those of you who don't know us personally, you only need to know that we both love movies but have near opposite taste most of the time. It has in the past come to blows. Seriously.

First up on the chopping block, or perhaps I should say, first up at the wood chipper is FARGO.

FARGO for me is the Coen's best work. It's quirky but it's also very real. This is a story of desperation and how that can lead to unintended, horrible outcomes. The bleakness of the story is matched only by the Minnesota landscape where it is set and is only offset by the vivid colour of the performances by the entire cast. William H. Macy makes me feel so uncomfortable at all times; Steve Buscemi cements himself as the weird looking guy of indie film; and Frances McDormand is the film's soul. As that body is infamously being stuffed down the wood chipper, it becomes perfectly clear why FARGO won the Coen's their first Original Screenplay Oscar.

Fargo for me is one of the most overrated movies of all time. I find the characters to be typical quirky Coen brothers style but everyone in this movie is unrealistic and way stupid enough to fit into a Harold and Kumar movie. McDormand's Marge Gunderson is a character that fails upwards throughout the movie and has been considered brilliant by the film community for doing this. Buscemi, Stormare and Macy have played the same character over and over again, so not much depth there but it fits into the film so kudos to the casting director. The plot was ok but not remotely original. And the "infamous" wood chipper scene is the most overrated part of an overrated movie. Nothing about this movie makes me believe that the Coen brothers have any grasp on reality let alone a grasp on good film making. Where you saw vivid color against the Minnesota landscape, I saw cold weather and tired plotlines combined with typical Coen brothers wide-eyed acting.

It's funny to me that FARGO for you does nothing to ground the Coen's as realists when I think that the reason it works so well is because I can believe that this whacked out situation is actually plausible thanks to their fine screenplay. And don't you be dissin' Margie! She is tough, sharp and good at both her job and being a wife. The film community applauds the performance, not just the character, and McDormand follows the trail with as much amazement as the viewer does.

I have no idea if she's a good wife. One could argue that a pregnant woman as far along as she is running around in stressful and dangerous situations is not doing her baby any favors and, as an extension, not showing her husband respect. But as for tough and sharp, we clearly have different definitions of those words. I would think of her as more dimwitted and lucky. Sure she looks like a genius next the rest of the idiots in this movie, but this movie is one slow person shy of being a Trailer Park Boys movie. I will give you that though. It is realistic to have this bunch of inbreeds come up with this series of events.

The woman makes time for breakfast with her husband even though there is a murder investigation waiting for her. She even picks him up art supplies so he can sit at home and paint bad duck art. Now, that's love! And as for the inbreeding comment, I know you dislike the Coen's but that is no reason to start insulting their parents.

I did not mean the inbreeding comment towards the Coen brothers but rather the bunch of geniuses in their films. Although I do disagree that their parents don't shoulder some of the blame and deserve some of the ridicule. As for her making breakfast and funding her degenerate artist husband, thank you for furthering my point.

Ouch. I got schooled a little there. Next Up: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.


Unknown said...

Fantastic and yes, opposite opinions indeed but I have always found it interesting to listen to the two of you banter back and forth with often such different views on the same movie.
I read the Fargo reviews nd not having seen any film by the Coen brothers; your thoughts come across clear as to bottom word of what is reality. Clearly, mine is not leaning towards the Coen brothers but I do like the reality of colaberation of film criticing by the two Bélanger brothers. I look forward to more.

Black Sheep said...

By the way, leaning away from the Coen Brothers is like taking Matthew's side. I'm just saying.