Tag Archives: John Carroll Lynch

The Set of 400: #128 – My Favorite Three-Cent Stamp

Today! Because I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou –

Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (x3)

Starring Frances McDormand (x2), William H. Macy (x2), Steve Buscemi (x2), Peter Stormare, John Carroll Lynch (x3), Harve Presnell (x2), Kristin Rudrud, Steve Reevis

I was well on board with the Coens by 1996 – even if it had been a few years since a really strong outing. The Hudsucker Proxy is weird fun and Barton Fink is surrealistic madness, but prior to those we got Miller’s Crossing, Raising Arizona, and Blood Simple – a pretty range-y group of movies sharing some bits of that Coen sensibility we’d all come to know and love. But I’d venture the majority of viewers didn’t really get into the Coens until they made Fargo, which kicked off arguably their best period of filmmaking, in tight competition with the last decade’s output of No Country For Old Men, True Grit, A Serious Man, and Inside Llewyn Davis.

In addition to ultimately spawning the excellent FX inspired-by TV show, Fargo provided instantly iconic characters and moments, superseded in the Coen canon only (probably) by their next film, The Big Lebowski. Between Frances McDormand’s pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson and William H. Macy’s bitter, inept criminal plotter Jerry Lundegaard and the case of loot buried in the snow and the wood chipper, this movie finally brought the brothers around to the full-on pseudo-comic mayhem and violence their earlier movies hinted at. And while it wasn’t exactly a box office hit – they didn’t really have any hits per se, until No Country won Best Picture and cracked $50 million for the brothers – it was the awards darling that had long eluded them, and a massive cult favorite.

Their later take on Prince Valiant was unconventional, I’ll give you that

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The Set of 400: #278 – My Favorite Dirty Harry Inspiration

Today! Because I am not the Zodiac. And if I were, I certainly wouldn’t tell you –

Zodiac (2007)

Directed by David Fincher

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. (x3), Brian Cox (x2), John Carroll Lynch (x2), Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue (x2), Philip Baker Hall, Zach Grenier (x2), Adam Goldberg, Charles Fleischer (x2), Paul Schulze, John Getz, June Diane Raphael, Candy Clark, Jimmi Simpson, Clea DuVall

Not so much concerned with unearthing who the killer was (even though it does present a theory), Zodiac primarily follows the lives of San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Robert Graysmith and S.F. detective Dave Toschi, and their respective obsessions with the case as it unfolds and in the subsequent years, as the trail runs maddeningly cold. It’s an expansive ’60s/’70s epic in the hands of the premiere murder mystery director of our time (Se7en, Gone Girl) – and one of the sure thing, must-run-out-and-see-whatever-he-does filmmakers – David Fincher.

And it is exhaustive. Covering the source material in great detail, and trying to encapsulate well over a decade in these characters’ lives, the movie naturally was going to be lengthy, but it manages to clip right along, even feeling a bit rushed in parts, pouring out details and recounting theories at a steady clip. But keeping the engine running solidly are the terrific performances of Gyllenhaal and Ruffalo as Graysmith and Toschi, plus a just pre-Iron Man Downey as self-destructive reporter Paul Avery. The Downey comeback was well underway by ’07 – what with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Good Night and Good Luck, and A Scanner Darkly in the preceding years – but Zodiac seemed to cement the fact that he was solidly reliable, and a little over a year later he was superheroing it up at Marvel.

’70s Banner and Stark!

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The Set of 400: #330 – My Favorite Dioscuri Homage

Today! Because I’m ready! Ready for the big ride, baby!

Face/Off (1997)

Directed by John Woo

Starring John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Dominique Swain, Alessandro Nivola, Colm Feore, Nick Cassavetes, John Carroll Lynch, CCH Pounder, Margaret Cho, Thomas Jane, Danny Masterson, Steve Hytner, Harve Presnell, Robert Wisdom

A ludicrously over-the-top action thriller, Face/Off is almost non-stop style over substance, explosions and gunfights over science, acting dialed up to 15, and doves – oh, so many doves. John Woo, baby! 1997 was reaching the end of this sort of action movie, a staple of the decade. An extension of ’80s action films, which mostly focused on blood and bullets and pointing a camera at it, the ’90s brought us slow-motion battles and vibrant fireballs and interspersed doves. Well, okay, that is just a Woo thing.

Film MVPs

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