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240. Fargo (#176)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guests Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair and Stacy Grouden, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Joel and Ethan Coen’s Fargo.

A routine kidnapping case spirals into something far more sinister and unsettling in an isolated corner of Minnesota. Arriving to the scene of a brutal roadside murder, Chief of Police Marge Gunderson finds herself embroiled in a complicated and chaotic story of greed and violence with horrific consequences.

At time of recording, it was ranked 176th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Songbird

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Songbird is how tame and lifeless it is.

The trailer arrived in a multimedia firestorm, positioning the movie as a piece of “pandemic-xploitation”, set against the backdrop of a hypothetical future where the current global pandemic had raged for four years. In this climate, public health officials have begun abusing their power, the black market thrives, the government has set up ominous and secretive “Q-zones” to house those affected. “Once you go to the Q-zone, you don’t ever really leave,” an influencer remarks early in the film. The United States operates under “marshal law”, as virus has “mutated” to attack the brain.

Sick privilege, bro.

All of this sounds very crass and very charged, something similar to what happened with the release of The Hunt earlier in the year. Songbird and The Hunt are movies that position themselves as genre pieces with biting resonance to a highly charged and combustible situation. However, like The HuntSongbird is ultimately something of a damp squib. It makes grand gestures towards the current moment, importing all manner of iconography and language associated with the pandemic to give it a patina of relevance, but ultimately ties it to a fairly conventional story.

This is perhaps the biggest difference between something like The Hunt and something like Songbird. The Hunt was ultimately a standard genre movie that disguised itself as something more relevant, but it was reasonably well constructed. In contrast, Songbird is an absurdly slipshod production. The film often feels like it was cobbled together over a weekend to ensure that it would be released at a point where it was still relevant and timely. The result is a shoddily made and vapid piece of work, that somehow feels even more vulgar than a full-throated exploitation film might.

Cooking up a Stormare…

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