Hey Center Seat readers! I'm back from my much-needed hiatus. Wedding plans and work duties are back on track, so here I go again with this crazy film obsession of mine.

How is it that I've never reviewed Fargo before? After all, I am a Minnesotan... I've lived here for 12 years, I love it here, I probably will never move.

Minnesotans in general tend to have a love-hate relationship with the movie Fargo. For one thing, it drives us nuts that many assume Fargo to be a city in the good ol' Land of 10,000 Lakes. It so isn't. Go get yourself a map of North Dakota. For another thing, we don't all talk like that. I don't think I've ever in my life uttered the words, "Yah, you betcha." We do all say "Minne-soh-ta", but that's pretty much the extend of it. So to have folks from the coasts coming in, giggling at us, and asking us to say lines from the movie, can get a little grating.

But aside from all the "I'm annoyed because I'm a local" conceit, it's really freaking brilliant. I know I may skew a bit on the favorable side when it comes to movies from the Coen boys, but there's a good reason for that, folks. They're masters.

Have you ever looked out your window on a January day and thought to yourself, "Damn. There is no color out there. My life is a black-and-white movie"? OK, you smartasses in California and Arizona get a pass, but that is exactly what Minnesota looks like half the year. And the Coens captured it perfectly; the starkness, the colorless landscape. And the way that, even in the city, Minnesota in winter can start to resemble Siberia.

Beyond the setting, Fargo mixes comedy and violence more effectively than any other movie I can name*, without making the bloodshed seem trivial. The murders that happen in this story come about in a very matter-of-fact way, but the contrasts between the casually violent attitude of the criminals and the mournful viewpoint of Marge the pregnant cop can be quite jarring. You find yourself being grateful for Marge's frank perspective, while feeling a bit guilty that in the first half of the movie you were almost rooting for the bad guys.

Of course the cast is wonderful: I think the witless schemer Jerry Lundegaard is William H. Macy's best role; and the same could probably said for Frances McDormand's Marge. The script is great too, and the setting wouldn't be as powerful without the amazing cinematography. But when you're watching Fargo, you're not thinking about any of that. Setting, script, characters, and acting are all blended together homogeneously into one beautiful product, as though shoved through a wood chipper and sprayed onto the white snow of your screen.

*Except maybe another Coen brothers movie.
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