Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Crime Gone Wrong


It's Crime Gone Wrong on Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks this week.

For me, THIS is the sub-genre within a genre within a genre to end all sub-genres within...you get the point. It is the one that made me a cinephile, the one that drew me in, the one that pulses inside our collective obsession with film noir. It has been mastered by my all-time favorite filmmakers. Two brothers who did it with perfection in their first outing. Then kept doing it, making three of the finest films in modern history.

Simply put:  Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo has been my favorite film since I was 14. That may never change. And I love its brothers nearly as well.

Here are my picks:

Blood Simple.
dir. Joel Coen, 1984


Texas. 1984. A guy hires a private investigator to dig up on his cheating wife. That private detective is a bad bad man and commits a crime that sets in motion a downward spiral of bleak, unabashed violence elevated by rich, dark humor and incredible attention to detail.

Fargo
dir. Joel Coen, 1996


Minnesota. 1987. A guy goes to North Dakota to hire a couple of criminals to kidnap his wife and split the ransom...to be paid by his rich asshole father-in-law...setting in motion a downward spiral of bleak, unabashed violence elevated by rich, dark humor and incredible attention to detail.

No Country for Old Men
dir. Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007


Texas. 1980. A guy stumbles upon a scene of violence in the desert, a drug deal gone wrong, many dead. Down the path he finds the "last man" with a suitcase full with millions of dollars. He takes it, unleashing evil incarnate, setting in motion a downward spiral of bleak, unabashed violence elevated by rich, dark humor and incredible attention to detail.

May they keep making this movie every so many years. 

22 comments:

  1. Fargo! First one that comes to mind. And for me the best out of three you featured here, I love Coen bros theme!

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  2. I like your theme within a theme. I also chose No Country for Old Men, that's my favorite Coen film.

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    1. Thanks! Can't go wrong with the Coens here.

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  3. A theme within the theme! Always love those!

    I liked all three of these but Fargo is my favorite by far. Blood Simple is solid, especially for a first film but it apes classic noirs a bit too much at points. That's too be expected with a novice effort and certainly doesn't diminish the enjoyment of the film.

    No Country went on a little too long for me but I liked its trust in the audience when major events to the storyline happened off camera and the filmmakers left us to fill in the blanks ourselves.

    Fargo and Frances McDormand are just so finely judged in their delineation of story and character. It really carries you along.

    This was another week that I had to expend little effort towards finding picks since I'm always game to try out a film with on this subject.

    One False Move (1992)-After a series of drug deals go bad and result in several murders a trio of gangsters take it on the lam ending up in the small Arkansas town of Star City. On their trail are two LAPD detectives who team with the small town sheriff (Bill Paxton) to capture the three. Bracing, violent thriller excellently directed by Carl Franklin. Co-written by Billy Bob Thornton who plays one of the criminals.

    He Ran All the Way (1951)-Petty thief Nick Robey (John Garfield) teams up with his buddy Al to pull what they plan to be their big score, a payroll robbery. But they are foiled by a cop who shoots Al, panicked Nick shoots the cop. On the run he ducks into a public pool house and strikes up a conversation with a young girl named Peggy (Shelley Winters). Smitten Peggy walks home with him and he takes her family hostage until the tense finale. Low budget, taut noir was the blacklisted Garfield’s last film before his too early death at 39.

    Criss Cross (1949)-Armored car driver Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) is still carrying a torch for his ex-wife Anna (Yvonne de Carlo) who is now married to a L. A. gangster, Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). Anna impulsive and restless is drawn to him as well and when Slim catches them together he forces Steve to participate in a robbery on the cars he drives. It does not go well and a series of double crosses lead to tragedy for all. If you only know Yvonne de Carlo from The Munsters this is the best place to see she was not only an incredibly beautiful woman but an excellent actress as well.

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    1. I think the humor of Fargo is what sets it apart from the other two. I totally agree with you on everything you said about these three films.

      As for yours, I am unfamiliar totally. But they all sound solid.

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  4. I was seriously going to do all three of these films! My favorite of these three might be Fargo, though I seriously need to re-watch No Country. Great choices!

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    1. Haha! I just couldn't get past these. Had to do it.

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  5. Only film I haven't seen from this list is Blood Simple, can't find any fault in picking the Coens as your favourite film, their output is consistently superb.

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  6. I love the theme within a theme within a theme and so on...😊 I have not seen the first film but I am always game since I love the other 2 films. I knew Fargo would be popular this week.

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    1. Thanks! Fargo is really that great.

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  7. I've seen all your picks, & they are all favorite films of mine. All of them are masterpieces.

    I loved Blood Simple. Everything was spot-on, especially the dark, brooding film score by Carter Burwell. Definitely one of the best directorial debuts ever. (Also, are you getting the Criterion release of it next month? It comes out September 20, FYI).

    I absolutely loved Fargo. It's my favorite Coen brothers movie, & also #6 on my Top 100 films list. Everything works perfectly with this movie. (I can't believe that this lost the Oscar for Best Picture to The English Patient. The English Patient was ok, but Best Picture-worthy? No way).

    I loved No Country for Old Men. It has the best villain of the 20th century, beautiful cinematography, & a great screenplay. Excellent.

    I have 2 picks this week: The Usual Suspects & Reservoir Dogs.

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    1. Both of your picks would be perfect. Love them both.

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  8. You're speaking my language, Coen-ese that it!. I'm a huge fan of the Coens too and love to see all the classics here. But favourite Coen Brothers film is O Brother. They are perfect for this weeks theme.

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  9. Three brilliant picks. Blood Simple may actually be my favorite Coen Bros. film, not gonna lie, even though Fargo is perfect. No Country is a great example of latter-day Coens - it's a perfect genre piece (taut, nasty thriller) with a lot of philosophizing that takes away ever so slightly from my overall enjoyment of the whole, and made impeccably.

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    1. Nothing wrong with Blood Simple being your favorite. It's the shit.

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  10. I haven't seen the first, but the other two are absolutely brilliant movies. Also I love your theme within a theme.

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    1. Thanks. If you love the latter two, you would totally love Blood Simple. I highly recommend it.

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  11. Great picks! Fargo is my very favorite movie.

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