The best that cinema has had to offer since 2000 as picked by 177 film critics from around the world.…
A Serious Man
A Serious Man is the story of an ordinary man's search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik, a physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous acquaintances Sy Ableman.
Fiddling with the aerial doesn't always make the signal more clear. The cat is both dead and not dead (Clive understands the dead cat, but not the math). The man in the prologue is or isn't a dybbuk. The bookends suggest an unbroken cycle that may or may not relate to what characters have and haven't done. "Accept the mystery."
Rabbi Nachtner: "We can't know everything."
Larry Gopnik: "It sounds like you don't know anything! Why even tell me this story?"
Nachtner: [laughing]"First I should tell you, then I shouldn't, hoo!" [places hands on cheeks]
Gopnick to dream class: "Even though you can't figure anything out, you will be responsible for it on the mid-term."
Unpopular opinion incoming! ‘A Serious Man’ is one of my favourite Coen’s and I would actually call it more likeable than ‘No Country for Old Men’. I love how their trademark edgy dialogues greatly blend into the much smaller and amateurish setting of the film, just like in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’. It creates an intelligent comedy, which I think hits the directors talents better than the western crime gems they’ve created. Not often do I laugh out loud when watching a film, so honour where honour’s due, ‘A Serious Man’ deserves its four stars.
The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever really know... what's going on. So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure anything out.
After seeing the brilliant Llewyn Davis, I have decided to work backwards through the Coen Bros filmography hitting every single forgotten gem or under appreciated masterpiece. Im doing this because my gut tells me that if Llewyn Davis doesn't see a second life on home video, it will sadly join the ranks of those other Coen films that have sunk below the radar.
The first stop on this tour through the Coen Brothers dark fairy tale universe is 2009's A Serious Man. Set in a predominantly Jewish suburb in the early 60's, (a setting very…
Moral of the story: God doesn't exist and He hates you.
"You'll find you need the iced tea."
The question most people seem to have about A Serious Man, judging by the reviews I've read, is "What's it actually about?"
A lot of the time I don't think it matters what a film is about. I often find myself going round in circles trying to get to the bottom of this subject and losing sight of whether I enjoyed the film or not. Actually, I have this problem more when it IS a film I enjoyed. If it's a film I hated then I'm not going to waste my time trying to figure out what was going on with it. It can just piss off.
Never gets better than it's opening parable.
Richer & funnier upon 2nd viewing... one of the Coens smaller productions, dealing w/ life's biggest questions.
My current thoughts on A Serious Man are very uncertain. Fitting. After a second viewing I feel I will have a better grasp on my feelings, but for now I will just have to accept it.
My favorite Coen brothers because I think it's their most fully-realized work, a synthesis of what they do best: an absurd, curious, goofy, clever and probing meditation on faith, randomness, and distressingly human foibles. It's also their most bracing rebuke to the most pervasive (and often, earned) critique lobbed at them: their cynicism and misanthropy. If nothing else, they love these characters, enough to render them with all their flaws and skewer them all the same.
Stuhlbarg lays claim to the best male performance of this century for me. His anxiety and impotence is exquisite.
I've written on here before about how the Coens tend to make films in sets of two, like twins. Barton Fink is closely related to The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo with No Country for Old Men. A Serious Man continues the pattern as it acts almost as a continuation of the themes of The Man Who Wasn't There. The similarities of the titles of the two films I think demonstrates an acknowledgement of this on the Coens' part.
I'd forgotten some of the greater subtleties at work here. It's easily their funniest film and contains what may be their greatest single creation - Sy Ableman, as played by the great Fred Melamed. Michael Stuhlbarg is fantastic too in his breakthrough role, his constantly baffled expression betraying his bewilderment towards the insane world he finds himself in.
I'd also forgotten all about the goy's teeth sequence. What a tour-de-force that is.
First rating was way off. This is a masterpiece, and perhaps the greatest movie the Coen Brothers have ever made.
"A Serious Man" is the book of Job in miniature. The story of a middle class Jewish professor who tries to do the right thing, and has misery heaped upon him for no good reason. What does he do about it? He ponders the nature of his misery and questions numerous rabbis in his ultimately fruitless search for answers.
A person new to this film may surmise that much of the story functions and comes about due to coincidence or perhaps vague synchronicity, when in fact the opposite is true. The Yiddish prologue sets the stage for Larry Gopnik's subsequent torment.
This movie doesn't get enough credit for having incredible pacing. This baby moves.
Holy shit I loved this. Instantly one of my favorite Coen brothers films.
Deeply humanist. It reminded me of Calvary (a movie I love very, very much) sometimes--that undercurrent of existential aimlessness, of innate meaninglessness and misery, that permeates the depths of religious dogma and life in general. They could almost be sister films though I'd argue this is a funnier film in some ways (black humor at its finest, which the Coens always excel at but especially here), often absurdist and bordering on surrealist. Life is terrible, and it might also be pointless, without reason. But sometimes there are good things--even if they are tiny, gone immediately, and hard to recognize. Bad things happen to good people, and we…
A Serious Man an updating of the book of Job to 1960's mid western Jewish suburbia feels like it should be a fairly minor film by the Coen brothers but is acctually surprisingly entertaining. A physics teacher up for tenure, finds his life crumbling around him as he tries to resist the temptation of a bribe seemingly left by one of his students to increase their grade. Are all events connected (including the otherwise unlinked subtitled prologue set in nineteenth century Eastern Europe) or is everything blind chance. Is there a God and does he still test his chosen people? Is Schrodinger's cat dead, alive or (to plagiarise Terry Pratchett) bloody furious.