Wednesday, March 19, 2014



I called my precious darling, Bob Mackie, this morning to see how the new Grizabella dress was coming and to wish him a happy birthday. The dear child is something north of sixty today, can you believe it? He's had enough work done to keep him from looking a day over 39, my own official age – and I sue any media outlet who intimates it may not be correct. Bob said he's nearly done transforming that pile of moth eaten fur into something worth wearing and it will be coming Federal Express this week. It will be ready when I shoot my new Meow Mix commercial . I've got the lyrics to my song down pat. "Meow Meow! Meow Meow Meow Meow Meow Meow Meow!” I think it sounds much better that way than with all that ridiculous tripe about memory and moonlight in gutters.

Nothing much is happening in my campaign for Beverly Hills’ animal control officer. I have a second debate with the gentleman in the bad toupee scheduled for this next week at the Oddfellows hall. I've selected my dress, a costume from when I played Tamora in the musical film version of Titus Andronicus The King and Eye for an EyeIt’s all dusty rose satin with Celtic embroidery of gold and green. I should look stunning. Joseph, my manager, is looking forward to the performance. He’s still working on me making a triumphal Broadway return as both leads in the new musical version of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane but the producers are balking. They think there should be at least two actresses in the parts; I think they should think outside the box and give me the chance. I will admit I haven't been on Broadway since I played the third spear-carrier in My Darlin' Aida a few years back; but, if they can put Rosie O'Donnell in a lead, they can certainly use me.

Norman's health has been stable, other than the occasional seizure from the neighbor's garage door opener. We're going to have to get Norman's metal plate retuned. Therefore, I felt justified in retiring to the home theater for a movie. This weekend's selection was Fargo the independent hit from the brothers Coen. I have a soft spot for this movie and was at one time signed to play Marge in the musical remake but the financing fell through. I was looking forward to the pregnancy pas-de-deux with Gregory Hines who had been signed for Norm.

Fargo is the story of a hapless Minneapolis car salesman (William H. Macy in a career making performance) who hires a couple of low lifes (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife in order to extort a large ransom out of his wealthy father-in-law (Harve Presnell). The kidnappers, being of shallow mind and shallower morals, soon complicate things with multiple homicides in the small town of Brainerd, Minnesota. This brings the very pregnant local police chief, Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), into the picture as she attempts to unravel the mystery. As events spiral out of control, the bodies pile up, the car salesman makes every wrong choice in the book, Marge sleuths her way toward a grinding denouement and much fun is poked at the cultural mores of the people of Minnesota.

The Coen brothers reject traditional Hollywood conventions. For instance, this is the first film I can recall seeing in which the heroine’s pregnancy is completely irrelevant to the plot, it just is. They also never explain why Macy needs the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s trying to extort from his father-in-law. It's hinted that he may have been fiddling with the books at his auto dealership but why or whatever happened to the money is never clarified. In many ways, the Coen's are using classic Hitchcockian maguffin devices, bringing in items and details that are important to the audience but irrelevant to the story unfolding on the screen (like the money in Psycho ). This somewhat elliptical storytelling may frustrate some used to paint by numbers screenplays, but those of intelligence will be able to draw their own conclusions and see how the Coens have given even minor figures a rich characterization and lots of unexplored facets.

There are lots of wonderful little scenes that add up to the kaleidoscope view of upper Midwest life that emerges. These include Marge's encounter with an old high school classmate with some problems, her interview with a couple of truck stop floozies, Jerry (Macy) dealing with stress in odd, but totally understandable ways and the villains’ somewhat one sided repartee. The title of the movie is somewhat odd as only the first five minutes, when the plot is set in motion, take place in Fargo, the rest is set in Minnesota but, if one approaches Fargo as a state of mind rather than as a physical location, it becomes clear.

There are some moments of grotesque violence, handled matter of factly and not dwelt on in the usual Hollywood manner and far more eating of high fat food than is good for the average human.

The DVD release of the film has both wide screen and standard formats with good picture and sound clarity. There are no major extras. Previous tape releases have included some hilarious Fargo souvenir snow globes which are great fun and suitable as house warming presents.

Snowy parking lots. Accordion playing adolescent. Oldsmobile dealerships. Gratuitous Jose Feliciano. Dimwitted prostitutes. Family restaurants. Nightcrawlers. Gratuitous bark beetle documentary. Minneapolis Radisson Hotel.

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