FARGO
1996, Park Circus/MGM, 98 min, USA, UK, Dir: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

One of Joel and Ethan Coen’s most acclaimed films (they won Oscars for their screenplay and Frances McDormand got one for Best Actress). Cool, calm, collected (and pregnant!) policewoman Marge (McDormand) tracks the kidnappers of a used car salesman’s wife in North Dakota’s snow-covered wasteland. Salesman Jerry’s (William H. Macy) inept plot to get out of debt by staging the hoax unravels in gory fashion when his two bizarrely mismatched henchmen (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) have a falling-out. That hulking Stormare’s nonchalant, bloodcurdling use of a woodchipper at the climax emerges as both chilling and hilarious testifies to the Coens' complete mastery of tone in the filmmaking process. “…an illuminating amalgam of emotion and thought. It glimpses into the heart of man and unearths a blackly comic nature, hellishly mercurial and selfish, yet strangely innocent. If it weren't so funny, it would be unbearably disturbing.” – Arnold Wayne Jones, The Dallas Observer; “A crime gem that is darkly funny even when it's chilling -- and certain to become a classic.” – Peter Stack, The San Francisco Chronicle.


INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
2013, CBS Films, 105 min, USA, Dir: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Just before the early-1960s folk boom turned them into magnets for aspiring singers, the clubs and coffeehouses of Greenwich Village were peopled by the likes of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a struggling troubadour whose traditional repertoire puts him on the margins of the music business along with a handful of other earnest and occasionally eccentric characters. The Coen brothers’ INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS brings the birth of folk into focus as effectively as their O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? did bluegrass. That earlier film’s musical midwife, T Bone Burnett, handles similar duties here as an Executive Music Producer, and stars Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake all do their own singing on screen. The film was the Grand Prix award winner at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.


THE MAN WHO WASN’T THERE
2001, Focus Features, 116 min, USA, Dir: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Joel and Ethan Coen’s haunting tale of passion, crime and punishment, all presented in glorious black-and-white. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Ed Crane, a barber in a small Northern California town in 1949 who is dissatisfied with his life - until his wife’s (Frances McDormand) infidelity presents Ed with an opportunity for blackmail that he thinks will help him to change it. However, Ed’s scheme soon unravels and lays bare even darker secrets before leading to murder. Co-starring Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Jon Polito, and a young Scarlett Johansson.


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