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Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - KAREN MARTIN

Fargo (1996, R, 1 hour, 38 min­utes)

Joel and Ethan Coen don’t try to be sub­tle, they just make movies that un­der­stand cer­tain things. Their clas­sic Fargo un­der­stands that crime is hard work, and a messy busi­ness be­sides. Acts of hero­ism are of­ten the re­sult of an or­di­nary per­son be­ing de­cent. Hu­man be­ings are tough an­i­mals, dif­fi­cult to kill. A dead man has weight and is cum­ber­some.

And crim­i­nals aren’t as smart as they think they are. A very funny movie about a des­per­ate crime gone wrong, the Min­nesota-set Fargo is only al­legedly based on an ac­tual in­ci­dent, but it is visu­ally beau­ti­ful and emo­tion­ally be­wil­der­ing, a folk fa­ble set against a vir­ginal white land­scape. This is one movie you won’t want to end — and which, in a sense, hasn’t yet, given the three sea­sons of TV it has thus far spawned (as well as the won­der­ful 2014 movie

Ku­miko, the Trea­sure Hunter). Frances McDor­mand as Marge Gun­der­son is one of the more mem­o­rable char­ac­ters in re­cent cin­e­matic his­tory. As bloody as it needs to be, Fargo is, more than 20 years on, still as fresh and clean — and cold — as new snow on an icy Min­nesota lake.

The Din­ner, di­rected by Oren Mover­man (R, 2 hours)

What’s to be done when your teenage child com­mits a hor­rific crime? That’s the ques­tion posed in The Din­ner, a chal­leng­ing yet ul­ti­mately un­ful­fill­ing drama about moral con­flict and fam­ily pol­i­tics.

The play­ers are Stan Lohman (Richard Gere), a well-liked U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tive who’s run­ning for gover­nor, and his ac­com­plished part­ner Kate­lyn (Re­becca Hall). He’s not close to his younger brother Paul (Steve Coogan), a his­tory teacher mar­ried to Claire (Laura Lin­ney). Both cou­ples have 16-year-old sons who are friends. They’re the ones be­hind the crime. But nobody knows that yet other than their par­ents.

So Stan and Kate­lyn, who feel a dis­cus­sion is in or­der, in­vite Paul and Claire to neu­tral ter­ri­tory, in the form of a high-priced, so­phis­ti­cated restau­rant. A war of words, re­plete with ac­cu­sa­tions, mis­un­der­stand­ings, cru­el­ties, mem­o­ries, and plenty of ten­sion, are in­ter­spersed with shots of gor­geously plated foods and flash­backs to what hap­pened to bring these (pretty aw­ful) peo­ple to­gether on this evening. With Chloe Se­vi­gny, Ade­pero Oduye.

11:55 (not rated, 1 hour, 20 min­utes) A quiet (al­most too much so) crime drama about a young Marine named Nel­son (Vic­tor Al­man­zar) who sur­vives a tour in Afghanistan, then re­turns to the United States where yet an­other un­fin­ished war looms: The de­tri­tus from a crime that took place a long time ago. A show­down is in the works. With Elizabeth Ro­driquez, Shirley Ru­mierk, John Leguizamo, Ju­lia Stiles, David Zayas; di­rected by Ari J. Issler and Ben Sny­der.

Snatched (R, 1 hour, 30 min­utes) If you think a com­edy star­ring stel­lar co­me­di­ans like Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn is sure to be a win­ner, you would be wrong. Try as they might, the laughs are few and far be­tween in this mother-daugh­ter com­edy in which Emily (Schumer), who splits from her boyfriend the day be­fore they’re to leave on an ad­ven­tur­ous beach va­ca­tion in Ecuador, de­cides to re­cruit her ul­tra-pro­tec­tive mother Linda (Hawn) to be her trav­el­ing com­pan­ion. Hint from the ti­tle: There’s a kid­nap­ping along the way. With Wanda Sykes, Ike Bar­in­holtz, Joan Cu­sack; di­rected by Jonathan Levine.

The Ex­cep­tion (R, 1 hour, 47 min­utes) Set in Ger­many dur­ing World War II, The Ex­cep­tion is a ro­man­tic spy thriller that con­cerns Wehrma­cht army cap­tain Ste­fan Brandt (Jai Court­ney) who’s in­ves­ti­gat­ing ar­ro­gant, re­sent­ful and hum­bled ex­iled Ger­man monarch Kaiser Wil­helm II (Christo­pher Plum­mer), who lives in a man­sion in the Nether­lands and des­per­ately wants to re­turn to his throne. With Lily James, Janet McTeer, Ed­die Marsan; di­rected by David Le­veaux.

King Arthur: Le­gend of the Sword (PG-13, 2 hours, 6 min­utes) Guy Ritchie’s high-priced, am­bi­tious, non­sen­si­cal dis­as­ter of a fan­tasy ad­ven­ture — de­spised by crit­ics and ig­nored by movie au­di­ences — stars Char­lie Hun­nam (Sons of An­ar­chy) as a scruffy street or­phan who pulls a mag­i­cal sword from the stone in which it’s em­bed­ded, which brings mas­sive up­heaval, dan­ger and po­ten­tial glory to his hard­scrab­ble life. With Ai­dan Gillen, Jude Law, Dji­mon Houn­sou, Eric Bana.

The Hunter’s Prayer (R, 1 hour, 31 min­utes) This runof-the-mill mys­tery drama, with a dull fin­ish that works bet­ter on video than on the big screen, in­volves an as­sas­sin who in­ex­pli­ca­bly joins forces with one of his tar­gets, a woman who’s fo­cused on aveng­ing the mur­der of her fam­ily. With Sam Worthington, Amy Lan­decker, Odeya Rush, Martin Comp­ston; di­rected by Jonathan Mos­tow.

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