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story.lead_photo.caption DVD cover for Fargo

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 run-of-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.

MovieStyle on 08/11/2017

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