Thursday, October 1, 2009

This doesn't have anything to do with music, but ...

I just came home from seeing the new Coen brothers' movie, "A Serious Man." A friend offered me a free ticket to an advance screening. Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays Larry Gopnik in the movie, was at the screening and did a Q&A afterward. Unfortunately, the MC (whose name escapes me, but he's an announcer on NPR) was awful and talked to the audience like we were grade-school kids. But Stuhlbarg did provide some interesting tidbits about how he got the part (it took two auditions, both requiring a large amount of preparation, and 11 months for the Coens to choose him) and what it was like to work with the Coens.

The movie was both hilarious and mysterious, and I don't think I've ever seen so many Jewish actors in one movie. My friend wondered, as we left the theater, who it would appeal to besides Jews of a certain age.  Audience comments during the Q&A:
  •  It's based on the story of Job.
  • With some slight modifications, it could be a documentary.
  • Would this be a shanda far die goyim? (Okay, he didn't use those words, but that's what he meant!)
If you've seen it, what do you think?

P.S. After I wrote the above last night, I read David Denby's review in the New Yorker. He hated the movie. I don't entirely agree with him (I usually don't), but in thinking about it realized one weakness in all of the Coen brothers' movies I've seen (admittedly, only a few): Their female characters are are either scary temptresses, whiny bimbos, or sexless crones. Marge, the chief of police in Fargo, has been their only sympathetically portrayed woman in their pictures that I've seen, and I wonder if it's because Frances McDormand is married to Joel Coen and maybe had some say in it.

I still like "A Serious Man," though. Not every movie has to be the best to be worthwhile, and this is certainly a thoughtful picture, done with a great deal of artistic and technical polish.

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