I have good memories of season 1, which I remember is quite like the film. Reading back my review of July 2015, this is not really the case though. Somehow I had the idea that I had seen season 2 already and when season 3 came I noticed I had not seen season 2 yet. Time to do something about that!
The story is season 1 is that of the film, but with more context. So what would the story be of season 2? Do small, snowy cities have more violent crimes? Apparently they do, since season 2 takes us back to 1979 in which a clash between two criminal groups runs completely out of control. Some civilians and local police officers get caught in the middle and a story as unlikely as that of the film and season 1 unfolds. The stunning naivety of some of the main characters gives plenty room for the black humor that accompanied previous Fargos and the cold-bloodedness of the criminals allows for violent outbursts and more black humor.
Now I do not know if you want to know this or not, but season 2 is not just similar story in a similar surrounding. Two characters that feature in season 2, return in season 1. Or put the other way around: season 2 is a “prequel”.
Just as season 1, season 2 is a fun watch, but by and far not as good as the Coen film. Since there are only 10 episodes, the music (especially in the earlier episodes), characters, story and atmosphere are well done, I would say that this second season is not a waste of time though.
Running series have a strange habbit of getting preposterously high IMDb rates recently. “Breaking Bad” now stands at 9.5, “Game Of Thrones” too. “Dexter” 8.9. “True Detective” 9.3. “Mad Men” 8.7. Most of these series are not good enough for me to watch all seasons, or even the next. I do like series though, but they are seldom really good. Then I heard that a series was made of the film “Fargo”. The film (1996) is good for a 8.2, which is deserved. The series currently stands at 9.0.
Initially I thought that the film would have been made into a series. When watching the series this proved to be incorrect and it seems that the true events that the series show are a story that Coen brothers only took a part from for their film. This neither can be true. What is true that both the series and the film play in the snowy landscape of Minnosata and things do not go as the main character had in mind. The characters are alike, the names differ. What also differs is what happens. When you know the film, you still will not be able to foretell events in the series. It is even hard to figure out which character in the series is which in the film sometimes. The atmosphere is comparable. Drama with black humour and violent outbursts. Enough of the comparing though.
The major character in the series is hired killer Lorne Malvo, brilliantly played by Billy Bob Thornton. The icecold Malvo leaves a trail of blood and violence. What is worse, he is also followed by a trail of violence. Malvo accidentally gets acquainted with Lester Nygaard, who -much more than Jerry Lundegaard in the film- proves to be a selfish bastard.
The series make a nice watch, but they by and far do not reach the heights of the film. Also, especially towards the end, the series become more of a drama. Not a cry-baby kind of drama, but the humour slowly flows away, leaving a grim story. The two closing episodes are downright thrillers. This is well done and it all nicely tumbles over the estimation of the characters involved.
So, if you have not seen the series yet, try not to think of the film deciding if you will watch it. The resemblances are vague at best. Like I said, the series make a nice watch, but that 9.0 at IMDb.com is overrated in my opinion. Also, should I have known that more seasons are in the make (2 is announced when I write this), it might have dropped down on my list. I do not like most 3+ season series so I usually wait until a series is wrung out before I decide whether or not I will watch it.
However my girlfriend always wants to see psychological thrillers (of James Bond) she now came home with this true story drama. Christine Collins’ (Angelina Jolie) son is abducted from her house and after 5 months the LAPD reunites mother and son. The boy is not Collins’ son though and with the help of a pastor (John Malkovich) she starts to question the LAPD who on their turn expose their power. The events are too strange to be true when we look at them from our own time, but apparently this is what happened. Not a superb film, but not a boring one. It has nice 20’ies settings and descent acting.
Jake is a young man who lives in New York and makes his living as a designer. In the summer he goes to his parents to help them with their trailer park, conduct local politics and organise a music and arts festival. When the permit for a festival in a neighbouring village is withdrawn, Jake figures that he might be able to make some money for his parents when he puts that festival under his own flag. He does not realise the scale of that “Woodstock festival”, not even when an old schoolmate (the organiser) comes flying in with a helicopter. Soon it becomes clear that this will not be a festival for 5.000 people like Jake expected.
“Taking Woodstock” shows the amount of money that went around in the festival, the slyness and professionalism of the organisers, but mostly the impact on the small town when half a million hippies start to gather in and around the festival area. Almost nothing about the music, nor of the festival itself, but all about the direct surroundings with Jake’s parents realising the goldmine, the neighbours forseeing the problems and weird characters trying to help Jake or themselves. “Taking Woodstock” is a very amusing film with a different look on the most famous chapter of music history.
the soul keeper
This film tells the story of Sabina Spielrein whose diaries have recenly been discovered. Spielrein was a young, Russian woman suffering from hysteria and put in a Swiss mental hospital in 1904. There she falls under the care of doctor Carl Gustav Jung of whom she is the first patient. Jung is of course the famous psychiatrist and student of Sigmund Freud. Spielrein and Jung fall in love, but Jung is marries, so eventually the paths split. After being cured, Spielrein becomes psuchiatrist herself and founds a school in her homeland.
“The Soul Keeper” is a nice, but rather dull film. You don’t get to know too much about Jung’s revolutionary methods and actually not too much of Spielrein either. It is just a biographical drama based on true history of a snippet of the past.
George Jung (Johnny Depp) didn’t have the best imaginable youth with his loser-dad, so when he groes up he and his buddy Tuna (Ethan Suplee) move to Callifornia where they are immediately introduced into a youthfull world filled with sun, sex and softdrugs. Pretty quickly the duo starts to sell marijuana and they do pretty well. When they run into a friend from their hometown and find out that the homelands are crying for pot, they start to smuggle marijuana in large quantities and make a lot of money. This is possible with the help of George’s Callifornian girlfriend Barbara (Franka Potente) who is a stewardess.
Then the money gets to George’s head and he makes contacts in Colombia to get larger amounts of marijuana faster. With the help of Derek Foreal (Paul Reubens) who they bought their first pot from, they sell huge amounts very rapidly. Then George gets caught and spends some time in prison. There he hears about cocaine (something new in that time) which he is also able to get in Colombia and he becomes the first to import it to the USA. Also with the help of Foreal George manages to sell 50kg in three weeks time, which brings him under the attention of the biggest Colombian drug-baron. For a while Jung is the only importer of cocaine in the USA and he makes millions of dollars. When he breaks up with Barbara, the Callifornian groups falls apart. Later George meets a new girlfriend called Mirtha (Penélope Cruz) who he marries. Then his business-partners betray him and George is out of business and he even is caught by the police with the help of a former friend.
All this is told in the modern crime-film-manner. The film indeed reminds a bit of “Boogie Nights” and maybe even a film like “Snatch”, “Thursday” or “Sexy Beast”, but it is not as violent and funny as these.
The film is based on “the book by Bruce Pollar” and supposedly “based on a true story”.
All in all quite a nice film, but not brilliant.
I had wanted to see this film for a long time, but when I read in the anouncement of the TV-broadcasting that the Sex Pistols are part of the story, I wondered why I never watched this film before. Not that I am a big Sex Pistol fan, but I like films about the 70’s (music) scene, such as “Boogie Nights” or “Almost Famous”. “24 Hour Party People” is even more ‘educational’ than I expected. After the first concert of the Sex Pistols Tony Wilson decided that he wanted to form a plane for independant music. First he gets a show about punk music on a regional TV channel, later he opens the club “The Factory” to organise shows and after that he founds “Factory Records”. There isn’t too much punk in this film, because soon Wilson discovers the genre ‘postpunk’ (later ‘(new) wave’ or ‘gothic’). Quite a large part of the film is dedicated to Joy Division, the controversy about their name and the suicide of the lead singer. In their early days, there wasn’t much of ‘a gothic look’, but later there was. Obviously the genre developed into a scene. After the suicide of Ian Curtis, the band continues under the name New Order.
Wilson doesn’t just sign wave bands though, because he also discovers the Happy Mondays and some avantgardistic bands that I don’t even know. The greatest thing to see is what happens around the person a Wilson, a music lover not interested in genres. He releases punk, wave, indie/avantgarde, funk and eventually he opens a club where ‘the rave scene’ was born, the earliest signs of life of house music, where the attention didn’t go to the creators of the music, but to the medium, the DJ. Touched upon are the problems with drugs, gangs and the like.
I don’t know how historical the story is, but I read somewhere on the internet that the story is very one-sided and focussed too much on the person of Wilson. I suppose that is true, but still the film gives a wonderfull view on the happenings of the Manchester scene of that time.Personally I was delighted to see how different kinds of music and scenes run through and follow up eachother.
Also the film itself is very well done. Most of the time you get the idea that you are ‘part of’ the time the film is about, but the main character frequently makes it clear that the film was shot recently, by saying what will happen in the film, who plays what character, giving comments on what happens, etc. The humour is British and extremely dry, I like that! The film is educational in a way, enjoyable and a great watch. Now I need to see “Velvet Goldmine” (1998) some time soon too!