The indefatigable Molly Solverson

A quaint snow covered town. A whole lot of murders. A villain who could be the devil himself. And the lady with the lamp who shines it on clues that define good old police work. The last one is Molly Solverson, one of the best cop characters on television.

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I approached ‘Fargo‘ keeping in mind the Coen Brothers ’90s movie and my love for all things that come out of those dark humoured minds. I was never disappointed as the creators of the show (who didn’t happen to be the brothers) strictly followed the Coen code of story-telling to come up with a fantastic crime drama that saw me watch the whole season from start to finish.

Fargo is a series that takes on the Minnesota landscape and all that its lonely inhabitants stand for. The nuances from daily hellos to uncertain suspicions to paradoxes, as defined by story titles, bring in a slice of life that can be a suitable parable in our time. And you have fantastic leads in Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks and supporting acts from Bob Odenkirk (famous as Saul Goodman from Better Call Saul). There is the primary antagonist, a deliciously devilish portrayal by Billy Bob Thornton. You cannot have asked for anything more evil than the Lorne Malvo character that he portrays. He is the devil with his sense of dark principles and justice absolutely intact. There are hitmen (one of them is deaf), the mob and a whole lot of characters whose inclinations would be in line with themes from ‘Alice in Wonderland‘.

Martin Freeman takes time off from his Dr. Watson duties to give us a William H. Macy-like Fargo performance that makes you feel for and then revile him. His bumbling Lester Nygaard is as fool-hardy as they come but with the presence of mind to survive. And yes, there are major cameos from, surprise surprise…, a comedic pair who put in quite a good law enforcement performance. Comedy Central regulars will get this.

Chief of Police Bill Oswalt brilliantly summarises what Fargo is, “I used to have positive opinions about the world, you know, about people. Used to think the best. Now I’m looking over my shoulder. An unquiet mind, that’s what the wife calls it.”



astronaut20farmerCreating titles is an art by itself. Ask the guys who created this quirky, feel good movie called ‘The Astronaut Farmer’. Two years back, I came across a review for this movie that had just been released. Curiosity was definitely a factor in making me google the name and find out more about it. First impression – the movie is about an astronaut who now lives his life as a farmer. Spot on. More to come later.

The power of a title can be the biggest advertisement for a product, feature or service. Case in point – FCUK. This British based fashion chain puts the ‘jumble word’ effect from our daily papers to brilliant use here. While implying a little mentioned act (at least publicly), it also combines the British craze for football (FC) and continues the passiofcukn of cool Britannia (UK). Well, now that was my immediate reaction to the buzz that this brand generated. I got most of my analysis right till I got to the name origin part. FC actually stood for French Connection. No other explanation for this except that FCUK was exploited in the jumbled sense to the full. Samples – t-shirts sold with “fcuk fashion”, “fcuk this”, “hot as fcuk”, “mile high fcuk”, “too busy to fcuk” etc. I am sure you got the picture… oops the tag.

Fashion brands are tops when it comes to names. From names of the creators themselves (Armani, Jimmy Choo’s, and the latest sensation Jason Wu who got to design Michelle Obama’s inaugural presidential ball dress) to names that just plain stick out (GAP, Banana Republic, Osh Kosh Bigosh, they still make those) there’s a naming factory out there ready to christen the next Benjamin Button who starts off with bell bottoms before trooping out with half pants.

Cars too are not spared from the quirky title mix. You had Ford Edsel (The only Edsel I knew till 10th standard was a classmate), Tata Sumo, Tata Mobile (now do you remember this vehicle), Dolphin (which would have had Greenpeace sucking on its exhaust pipe if they ever new it existed) and half a dozen oddball vehicles with equally pun-intended names.

So now – back to the ‘Astronaut Farmer’. If this title did not raise eyebrows, then I don’t think your beautician/stylist/plastic surgeon could ever do the same for you. Astronaut and farmer are two words so far apart in imagery and vision that connecting them would be nightmare even for the Sandman. But the movie did do that and how. Billy Bob Thornton plays a former trainee astronaut who just missed out on getting into the space programme and now spent his days looking after his family farm along with his family. He wants to realise his mission to space and sets off on doing it on his own.

Simple premise explained from the title onwards, this movie had its title directing every action in it. Watch it to understand what I mean. Astronaut Farmer is a phrase that comes to mind in virtually every scene you see in this movie. I would question the independent picture tag attached to this movie, what with a lot of cameos and heavy special effects, but I would still recommend this quirky, feel good movie to someone who had a trying day at office and who needs to unwind.

P.S. The Polish Brothers who directed and produced this film have a reputation for independent, quirky pictures. Any feedback on this team’s other movies are most welcome. Hey btw, have you noticed the rise of sibling teams in Hollywood – Wachowski Brothers, Pang Brothers, Coen Brothers, Farelly Brothers, Warner Brothers