2010-03-12

a serious man


Despite the unexplained strangeness of its beginning and the placidly casual inconclusiveness of its ending, A Serious Man is probably my favourite Cohen Brothers film and it might be their best. The picture is as blackly humorous as it is profound and it's as measured and restrained as it is relentless. The ensemble cast is perfect; the performances all are extremely marvelous and I was as entertained and engaged as I was distressed and disturbed. A Serious Man is admirably well-written, excellently well-performed and skillfully well-executed. It's also thought-provokingly existential, artistically shot and richly told. This film's a wonderfully worthwhile experience and a very recommended one. Especially if you're serious. And if you're Jewish.

Directed by The Cohen Brothers
[Via] BTJunkie

4 comments:

Ian said...

This was my favourite film of last year and, yes, probably my favourite Cohen brothers film. I loved the common refrain of "But I didn't do anything!" Larry Gopnik is on the verge of his own private social revolution where doing nothing, simply being and ignoring the signs of family breakdown is no longer acceptable.

I like dark humour, but it's an odd experience watching those kinds of films in the theatre. Nana and I saw this one at Canada Square and I swear we were the only ones laughing most of the time. (We had the same experience when viewing The Savages in the same theatre.) It's an odd feeling which makes us feel somewhere between freaks and enlightened beings.

We were at an Oscar party when someone asked the crowd if someone had seen A Serious Man. I started to reply "Best movie I saw in 2009. So funny." when someone piped up "It was boring and I hated it." (or something similarly dismissive). I didn't have time to stop my response and felt a little weird being at such odds. I swear the girl who responded before me gave me the stink eye, as if I had exposed her or, worse, that I was some pervert who saw humour where none could be found.

pr.incest said...

D and I enjoyed this film extremely, it's amazing and yes: hilarious. And impressive. And maddening. And 'sad.' And beautiful. And just excellent in this very high quality, personal, creative, blackly humorous, deftly wrought, very capable way.

I am impressed that a comedy could be so dramatic, so meaningful and so wonderful (usually I find comedy films are inherently 'meant' to be easily dismissed time-killing affairs). Also I was surprised to read so much hate against the film and to come across so many comments along lines of the film being smug, self-indulgent, boring and a waste of time. Who are these people that can't recognize a high level cinematic experience when there is one?

Every character and every performance was so painfully fantastic and so casually. Sy in particular was a sensation. D kept shouting 'Ooooooh, I HATE HIM!' He was also very pissed off at the wife. I had to remind D that we as audience members were supposed to hate (characters like them) those two and I busied myself deeply admiring how wonderfully they brought their respective roles to such amusingly detestable life. Adored the Korean student/father thing too. And all the Jewish 'inside jokes.' And the fantastic and stoned neighbour woman. And Marshak!

The lead was so terribly excellent. His lawyer also. This film deserves much more appreciation than people seem to realize. But I guess fuck people. {smile}

I'm gratified to learn you and N also loved. [Despite getting the Stink Eye from that girl. If I had been there I would've showered her with her own Stink Eye a thousand folds!]

Lastly/finally/in conclusion: D&I very much enjoyed The Savages too... That film was wonderful in many ways and on many levels as well and PSH was so fantastic especially (but the sister too, the father too, the boyfriend too AND the dog).

Seems you two and we two are cinematically quite aligned. We must double date!

irrena said...

i am truly sorry to interrupt this private moment of you two, but i have to write something about this film too.:)
this is a film worth watching. the everyday struggle of a serious-man-wanna-be, the pain of not being able to talk to anyone, the "lead us not into temptation", the anger and emptiness of everyday's life, the struggle and 'understanding' (while he repeats his wife's words in his lawyer's office) is just priceless.
i adore coens film for their sense of humor, for the (fast) rhythm of story telling (in editing), for the unpredictable situations in character's life, for the wonderful dialogues, for the amazing cast EVERY TIME!, for the great directing, for how amazingly they build characters,...
there's also a soft spot in my heart for female characters in their movies. they're not desperate housewives, they're equal to men.
i love this movie so much also because of those archetypes larry is trying to follow. i find so much sympathy for this naive man, i can't even express it.
michael stuhlbarg created him so perfectly, i realized i know these kind of men/people around me.

the fact that people don't like this film is probably because they didn't understand it, or just relate too much to it and can't find the distance...
i am just more worried for all those who mock at this film and love movies like amelie...

pr.incest said...

Totally agree. It's a beautiful achievement and a beautiful film. Probably the Cohen Brothers best. I can't imagine how they might from this point, do better.