FARGO (1996). For the uninitiated, Joel and Ethan Coen's best film next to Raising Arizona stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief whose investigation of a triple homicide leads back to a sad-sack car salesman (William H. Macy) and his two shady accomplices (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare). An instant critical darling and recipient of two Oscars (for McDormand's performance and the Coens' original screenplay, though Macy should have joined them in the winners' circle), this pitch-black comedy with grisly undertones was so wildly popular that when the American Film Institute announced its list in 1997 of the 100 greatest American movies of all time, this made the cut, even though it had only been released a year earlier! This is being released on DVD for the third time, though it's the first time as a Special Edition; features include audio commentary by the film's ace cinematographer Roger A. Deakins, a half-hour documentary, a trivia track, and a hidden Easter Egg (look for the snow globe).
2 FAST 2 FURIOUS (2003). Never rising much above the level of a mediocrity, the 2001 sleeper smash The Fast and the Furious at least had two things going for it: the magnetic presence of co-star Vin Diesel and plenty of spectacular stunt work involving car races, car chases and car crashes. But with Diesel deciding to commit himself to other projects, this sequel's appeal was immediately cut in half when it debuted this past summer -- and it was reduced even more by the fact that the car sequences didn't match the visceral impact of the first film's auto focus. Whereas 1 Fast 1 Furious centered on illegal street racing, part deux relies on that standard plotline known to B-movie aficionados worldwide: the efforts of an undercover cop to... yawn... infiltrate a crime kingpin's inner circle and expose his corrupt ways. Returning star Paul Walker remains as dull as ever, but he's no worse than his co-stars: the hammy Tyrese as his best friend and the wooden Eva Mendes as a fellow undercover operative who may have switched allegiances. Still, even without Diesel on board, this surprised many prognosticators by earning $127 million, a more-than-acceptable drop from the original's $144 million gross. DVD extras include commentary by director John Singleton, deleted scenes, and various features on the cars and the stunts.