Ethan and Joel Coen continue to make films that make the audience scratch their heads even while they are laughing in response to situations and dialogue they don't clearly understand. That is part of the beauty of the Coen brothers' films. They are conundrums, perhaps, but highly skilled and polished ones. They are an acquired taste.
A SERIOUS MAN has a fascinating overture - a dark drama in Yiddish about a curse, a dybbuk ('In Jewish folklore, a disembodied human spirit that must wander restlessly, burdened by former sins, until it inhabits the body of a living person') and then plops us down in Minneapolis in a Jewish neighborhood inhabited by a strange group of folk - Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) who copes with the inanities of teaching Physics while coping with a venomous Korean student unhappy with his failing grade, an inane tenure committee, a son readying himself for Bar MItzvah while running from his dope dealer, a redneck neighbor on one side and a vamp on the other side of his home that is being torn apart by a wife wanting a Jewish style divorce to marry Larry's best friend and a brother who is a live-in raunch, among other distractions. Somehow winding through these 'curses' we get to know the real serious man and all the foibles that mark life among these weird characters. It is very funny at times, goes on a bit long at others, but the film is echt-Coen, and for most that is probably enough. They do have their style! Grady Harp, February 10
Finally, in my chronological journey through the Coen Brothers body of work, I come to the latest of their movies (surely not the last, which would be a cause for mourning). If you have followed my reviews, you know that I find the core of the work (and the best of it) is about finding and understanding identity (See my review of Burn after Reading for a summary of my reviews to that point).. In Serious Man, they return to their time (mid 60s), place (Midwest) and … more
**** out of **** "A Serious Man" proves that the Coen Brothers are some of the best two filmmakers living. They have impressed me in the past and they have disappointed me; a nice mix, if you ask me. They have had their triumphs, their successes, and then their lesser efforts. "A Serious Man" is one of their best by all means, being a thought-provoking piece of story-telling with not a boring moment to spare. I was seriously hooked every moment of the … more
Why do bad things happen to good people? After watching A Serious Man, I realized that it isn't so much that only the good people are the ones who have bad things happen to them, but that we care when they do. We don't care about the bad things that happen to bad people, unless they're an anti hero. A Serious Man is arguabbly most mature of the Coen Brothers movies, saving the skittish characters and the worst eccentricies for another … more
What Pompted You to write a Review? I really like this movie, but its not very well known How was the Plot, Acting, Direction? Perfect, it was funny, everyone was very good at acting Were You ENTERTAINED? yes, it was a very interesting story, I never looked at my watch Did It Fulfill Expectations? Hype Level? I didn't have very high expectations, I knew it was nominated for best picture and … more
Pros: Nothing at all, nothing Cons: Every every every little and last thing. The Bottom Line: Simply awful, no need to say more. Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Joel and Ethan Coen have sold their souls to a haphazard soulshark. Rather than giving up their whole souls for permanent triumphs, they have bargained to make at least one very bad movie for every very good one. … more
Every time a Coen Brothers film comes out, they seem to go in this bad, good and decent order. For example take No Country for Old Men; how that movie ever won best picture is beyond me because it was straight up terrible. Then came Burn After Reading which was really good and funny. Finally, A Serious Man comes out not to long ago and doesn't get a lot hype but none the less, the film is decent and gets nominated for best picture. Now, does it deserve a best picture nod? … more
I thought this would work, but like "Burn After Reading" or "Barton Fink" it let me down. The Bros Coen keep getting more self-hating about their Jewish suburban angst; this curdles their arch narratives. Their smugness given their status as critical darlings contrasts with how Philip Roth or Bernard Malamud's novels from this 60s period managed critique of this oft-critiqued milieu without making you feel cheapened. Parts of this film were great, as in the twists at the … more
You fervent movie buffs all know by now that the Coen Brothers grew up Jewish in Minnesota. They 'know' Minnesota to the bone; they proved that in "Fargo", still my favorite among their films for its deep understanding of the Minnesota conviction that decency will prevail over depravity, even if only by naive luck. But I was born in Minnesota and spent part of my childhood there, so I have an insider's response to that depiction. The Coen Brothers' films about the Deep South and Southern California … more
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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A Serious Man is a black comedy feature film written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It is due to be released on October 2, 2009, in the United States.
The film is set in St. Louis Park, Minnesota in the year 1967, and is intended in some ways to reflect the childhood of the Coen brothers as they recall it.
The protagonist is Larry Gopnik, a Jewish academic living in a middle-class Jewish neighborhood in a Minneapolis suburb. The story follows Gopnik's spiritual and existential struggle as his wife Judith contemplates leaving him for his colleague Sy Ableman. Adding to his suffering is his ne'er-do-well brother, Arthur, who lacks the resources and the ability to care for himself and consequently lives on Larry's couch. Larry begins to question the value of his life as he deals with these and other trials, including his son, Danny, who steals money from his wallet to buy marijuana; his daughter, Sarah, who steals to finance a planned nose job; a student who alternately attempts to bribe him for a passing grade and threatens to sue him for defamation (made all the worse because Larry is up for tenure); and a female neighbor who distracts him by sunbathing in the nude. Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis in an attempt to solve his problems and to become an austere and devoted man.