Milwaukee, Minnesota

by | Nov 25, 2005 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Milwaukee, Minnesota

Starring: Bruce Dern, Troy Garity, Randy Quaid
Studio: Tartan Video TV02011
Video: 16:9 widescreen
Audio: DTS 5.1, DD 5.1, DD 2.0
Extras: Interview with director Allan Mindel, Audio Commentary by
Mindel and Troy Garity, Original theatrical trailer, New releases
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: ***

With a couple known stars in the cast, awards at some small film
festivals, and a good review from Rex Reed, this seems like a
worth-watching small film. It was also characterized by the Film Jerk
web site as “If Fargo had a kid brother it would be Milwaukee,
Minnesota,” and that about sums it up.

The hapless hero Albert seemed to me more the kid brother of Dustin
Hoffman’s Rain Man than any character in Fargo, and that probably
prevented my full immersion in the story. Garity appears to have
studied Hoffman’s portrayal a bit overmuch. Albert’s life is impossibly
controlled by his overbearing mother until an unidentified-in-the-story
(but clearly obvious to the viewer) person runs her over with a car.
Now on his own, Albert’s hidden cash becomes the target of an amoral
young girl who blew into town, as well as a shady traveling salesman.
He is also pursued by a local storeowner (played by Dern) who appears
to have been his real father. His cash stash is the result of his being
a master ice-fisherman and having won many competition cash awards. One
sees the odd Northern Midwest tradition of ice-fishing up close and up
cold. The story takes place in Wisconsin but Albert longs to
participate in a competition scheduled for Milwaukee, Minnesota, and
determines to leave his hometown for the first time for that purpose;
thus outwitting – either deliberately or thru blind luck – his
malefactors. The long closing shot, I must say, is worthy of an
Antonioni. I may keep it in my collection just for that. Also provides
a good video test for accurate reproduction of white across the entire
screen.

The cinematography and video transfer are top quality, though there is
a warmish-orange cast to everything that seems to have been a
deliberate attempt in the color balancing to make the film seem less
bluish-cold.  It certainly is the most warm-hearted-looking noir
film I’ve ever seen. The DTS option on the surround is an attraction,
but unfortunately not borne out by any creative use of the surround
channels.

– John Sunier

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