Tag Archives: fargo
On this episode, I am joined by fellow Smug Film contributors John D’Amico and Jenna Ipcar. We discuss the movies that got us into movies, and were our gateway into obsession. As always, we go on tangents along the way, take a quick break for a movie joke by comedian Anthony Kapfer, and then close the show with questions from our mailbag.
If you have a question for the show, leave it in the comments or email us at Podcast@SmugFilm.com.
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Movie Stuff Referenced in this Episode:
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
Written and Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Some spoilers ahead.
Inside Llewyn Davis is a frustrating movie. It’s difficult to know how to approach it. Going in, you either know something about the folk music scene of NYC in the early 1960’s, or you don’t—and either way seems to handicap a viewer looking to make sense out of the film. Those who have a familiarity with the subject will be running through their head for facts, looking for characters who correspond to real people, wondering ‘Will Dylan be in this?’ They will be distracted, and in the end, it will not be a very rewarding experience. On the other hand, those who go in blind will probably get lazy and blame their misunderstanding of the film on their ignorance of the subject, thinking it to be full of inside jokes.
If you can somehow make it past that built-in obstacle course, you’ll be able to view the film for what it is—another Coen Brothers film about a cosmic circle. A man, standing still (a la Ray from Blood Simple, H.I. McDunnough from Raising Arizona, Jerry Lundegaard from Fargo, Barton Fink, The Dude) while at the same time, going on an adventure (Tom Regan from Miller’s Crossing, Rooster Cogburn from True Grit, Llewelyn Moss—practically sharing the first name of our main character—from No Country For Old Men, Ulysses Everett McGill from O Brother, Where Art Thou?—literally sharing the first name as our other main character, a cat).
Forrest Gump (1994)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay by Eric Roth
From a novel by Winston Groom
I know it’s weird, but there are actual people who don’t like Forrest Gump. (Dr. Seuss described this phenomena as having a heart three sizes too small.) Sentimentality is a powerful thing—it makes people cry and tricks intellectuals into thinking art isn’t good. It also tricks moms into thinking that a movie with LSD use, a guy blowing his load early, sexual bartering, and child molestation is appropriate for an 8 year old—or, maybe I just have a really cool mom.
I was flipping through the channels the other day (I don’t use ‘the guide’) and I landed on Forrest Gump, which is the epitome of a ‘whenever it’s on TV I have to finish it’ movie. I landed on one of Jenny’s hippie scenes, the one where a dude pulls up in a Volkswagen Beetle and asks if anyone wants to go to San Francisco, and Jenny says “I’ll go,” and he says “Far out!”, like a very happy hippie.
At that moment, I had a realization: Forrest Gump is a pretty weird movie to be on ABC Family (which is the channel it was on). When I was a little kid, Forrest Gump was just a big, fun movie that made me laugh and then cry at the end. When I was eight, I didn’t understand that when Forrest is sitting on Jenny’s bed in her dorm and she takes off her shirt, he ejaculates early. Forrest Gump is a gritty, indie film masquerading as a Hollywood epic.
There is a moment in Fargo (I’ll never stop talking about Fargo) that makes me die with laughter every single time I watch it. The movie is packed with black comedy and irony and brilliant deadpans (the license plate joke, holy shit) and some basic but perfect physical gags (Jean Lundegaard bursting out of the shower draped in its curtain like a kid in a homemade ghost costume), but I ain’t talking abaout all that stuff. I’m talking about the stills above. This moment seems to be more of an editorial in-joke than an actual written joke, but of course you never can tell with the Coen brothers. After Jean’s dad and Stan Grossman and Jerry discuss the plot’s central ransom over breakfast, Jerry is at the counter. The beaming cashier asks how Jerry’s meal was. After he answers rather shortly, he comes back with an affable “How you doin’” and when it cuts back to her, we see her cock her head to the side before it cuts again. All she does is cock her head to the side. No response, no change in expression, just a slight pitch. It’s hilarious. It’s insanely funny.
Sometime in the year 2000, I went to the movies, and I don’t even remember what I ended up seeing because one of the previews left such a profound mark on me that what followed has been erased from my memory. The preview was for Under the Tuscan Sun, and when it came on all I could think was, ”who the fuck would ever want to see this movie?”. That moment crystalized my understanding of the irrelevant.
The movies on this list are not famously bad like Plan 9 From Outer Space. And they’re not notorious flops like Ishtar and Bonfire of the Vanities. In fact, there’s nothing remotely memorable about them. They just sort of exist, but it’s hard to believe they do, because nobody talks about them. In a way, they’re much worse than awesomely bad triumphs like The Room and Troll 2, because those movies at least found an audience. These movies are so wholly uninteresting in every way that they aren’t even worth making fun of.
If you’ve seen any of the following movies, please let me know. You’ll be the first person ever to have seen them, and will be given an award as their respective patient zero.