I saw my first Coen Brothers movie, “Blood Simple,” some weeks — maybe months — after it opened in January 1985. We tried to see it right off, at — if I recall correctly — Seattle's Uptown Cinema, but the lines were too long.
When was the last time you remember that happening in Spokane?
Anyway, it finally opened in Spokane, and so began my love affair with the Coens. It's been an up-and-down relationship. It's not as if I've liked everything they released (I didn't get “Barton Fink,” and I still scratch my head at “Intolerable Cruelty”), but the best of their films rank among the best cinema produced in the last four decades. And they are among the select few filmmakers whose work I refuse to miss.
Which is why when Pete Porter, director of the Spokane International Film Festival, gave the “Movies 101” crew an opportunity to open this season's SpIFF-sponsored Professor's Series, we were happy to say yes. One, because we like SpIFF (I am one of the festival's programmers); two, because it gave us a chance to rescreen one of our favorite Coes Brothers films, “Fargo.”
So, the facts: Mary Pat Treuthart, Nathan Weinbender and I will present “Fargo” at 7 p.m. next Wednesday at the Bing Crosby Theater. Tickets are $7 general admission, $5 for students. We each will give a short talk before the show, and we will moderate a post-screening discussion. All proceeds go either to the Bing or to SpIFF.
“Movies 101,” just to remind you, is a Spokane Public Radio show Bob Glatzer and I cofounded in 1999. It was intended to be, and remains, a weekly look at the contemporary film scene. As the show developed, we added a roving third voice — until we settled on Mary Pat Treuthart as our permanent cohost (MP just happens to be my wife). When Bob passed away in 2010, Nathan Weinbender joined MP and me. And that, to this day, remains the show's standard lineup.
But we aren't the attraction. “Fargo” is. And I'm not alone in thinking that it just might be the best movie the Coen boys have managed to make. I hold a special fondness for “Raising Arizona,” “Miller's Crossing,” “The Big Lebowski” and, of course, “Blood Simple.” But “Fargo” remains something special.
Join us on Wednesday and judge for yourself.