How far will they go?

If I had to list my favourite films, it’s almost certain that there would be several Coen Brothers offerings on the list.  For sure, both O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Fargo would appear very near the top of the list.

I discovered today that a spinoff TV series to Fargo has been made, sharing its name, Minnesota setting and more-or-less  black comedy crime drama style.

The first season was made, or at least broadcast last year, and was set about 8 years earlier (which puts it about 20 years after the film, which was released in 1996 but apparently set in 1987).  I gather there’s a small amount of overlap, including a scene where some of the characters from the series find the money that was hidden at the end of the film,  and probably quite a few references (also to the rest of the Coen Brothers’ oeuvre), but no direct cross-over between cast or characters.

The second season is due to be released next month (in the States) and will be set back in 1979.  Again, there’s due to be little direct cross-over with either the film or the first season but there will be some links.

Apparently several more seasons are planned and each one is due to be essentially self-contained, with its own time period, storyline and cast but some links to the other seasons and the film.  The Coen Brothers are, with several other people, executive producers for the show (at least for season 1) but don’t appear to have been directly involved in writing or directing it.

I haven’t yet seen the series, though I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.  I have mixed feelings about the idea but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually seen it.




Last Saturday I went to the cinema for the first time this year .  Not only that, but it was also my first time seeing a 3D film.

I gather that technology for making and showing 3D films has existed in some form since about 1915, and I remember the hype surrounding Jaws 3D back in the early 1980s, when they were giving away 3D glasses in packets of Shreddies.  I was too young at the time to go and see the film (in fact, I still haven’t seen any of the Jaws films, although I’ve seen clips from them) but I remember using the glasses to look at the 3D pictures printed on the back of the cereal box and not being terribly impressed by them.  Slightly more recently, I remember a special episode (or two) of Doctor Who made for Children In Need, probably sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, which was shown on TV and also failed to be particularly impressive from a 3D point of view (I don’t recall the script being all that great either – in fact, I can’t remember the storyline at all, except that it was a crossover between Doctor Who and Eastenders and I think it featured several doctors and companions).

In the last few years, 3D films seem to have come into fashion again and these days it seems that most films appearing in the cinemas are available in a 3D version.  However, since I probably only get to the cinema on average about once per year, it’s probably not altogether surprising that I hadn’t seen a 3D film until now.

I went (with a friend) on Saturday intending to watch Cloud Atlas (which I think was showing in 3D) but unfortunately they turned out not to be showing it on Saturday night at our local cinema, so we ended up seeing Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters instead.  There were options to see it in 2D or 3D and since the first available screening was a 3D one we decided to go for that.  It was necessary to spend about £3 on a pair of 3D glasses, but they let you keep them so I’ll be able to take mine along to use for any other 3D films I go to watch.  The actual price of the tickets is the same for 2D or 3D films.

I quite enjoyed the film which, as I expected, was a fairly straight action romp and not incredibly profound in either story or characterisation.  As the name suggests, it’s based on the Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel and imagines that the titular characters grow up to become witch hunters.   The special effects were excellent and the 3D was very effective, especially when projectiles of various kinds appeared to be leaping out of the screen (yes, I did find myself having to resist the impulse to duck on several occasions).  Now that I’ve got my pair of 3D glasses, I’ll certainly be happy to see 3D versions of other films when I get the chance.

Also on a film related note, I found out today that apparently plans are now under way to create a Star Wars sequel trilogy, with Episode VII (as yet unnamed, as far as I can tell) due to appear in 2015.  Over the years there have been many rumours flying about possible sequels and prequels to Star Wars and it seems that the official position has changed several times.  It is reported that George Lucas had categorically stated after (or perhaps before) the prequel trilogy came out that there would be no sequel trilogy but he changed his mind sometime last year, after Lucasfilm was taken over by Walt Disney.  Apparently Lucas himself won’t be directing any of the sequels, although he will presumably at least have a hand in their writing, and the director of Episode VII has now been announced as J. J. Abrams (a director whose work I’m not familiar with, although apparently it includes a couple of recent Star Trek movies).

Given how the prequel trilogy turned out in comparison to the original Star Wars trilogy, as well as the fact that the 6 films together make an excellent (and complete) tale about the rise, fall and redemption of one character (Anakin Skywalker), I have some misgivings about the idea of making a sequel trilogy.  However, I must confess that I am quite excited about the idea and I will certainly be giving the upcoming films the benefit of at least one viewing before I dismiss them. It seems highly likely that, unless there’s a major swing in cinematographic practice in the next couple of years, these will be made as 3D films so it should also give me another opportunity to use my 3D specs.