Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Serious Man review

Last night we went to see the Cohen Brother's new movie A Serious Man at the Landmark Theater in Hillcrest. The movie itself is hard to describe. It's a comical look at the life of a professor who can't ever catch a break. His demanding wife dumps him for a touchy-feely Francis Ford Coppola look-a-like. He keeps getting anonymous hate mail sent to his boss at a time when he's trying to get tenure. His kids only think he exists to fix the TV antenna and steal from his wallet. On top of that he has thousands in lawyers bills piling up from his divorce. Its sort of a tragi-comedy play about humanity, where you just need to watch the action and not let the characters problems affect you at all except to laugh at the unfairness of life. The guy catches absolutely no breaks...at first I wanted to choke him and scream "get a backbone!" But after a while I realized that was the joke- that he was destined for injustice. Just a thought...it seems like you can always judge the outcome of your movie experience by the crowd that comes in to watch. Landmark usually has an even mix of quiet, genteel elderly people, sullen artsy types, and loud, self-aware hipsters. This screening was pretty much over-taken by loud hipsters. From the very first shot, they would laugh "hysterically" at every line of dialogue, every scene, even the scenes that were basic set up scenes where nothing was going on. It's as if they were thinking "We know the Cohens are funny and their humour is really dry, so even though this is a location set-up shot showing an empty lawn, it's probably supposed to be funny so I'm going to laugh hysterically". Okay I'll stop my tangent. Overall, it was a good comedy, as usual it was a very-well shot and acted. But the cold, dark severely detached treatment was a little much for me. Not one of my favorite Cohen movies so far. Here's an interesting interview with the Cohen's about their latest movie.

1 comment:

skitch360 said...

I think what makes it really funny, namely every scene, is the cullness of midwestern life. It is about a guy who gets a lot of tough breaks, but the whole thing also is, no one he went to had any answers for him. He, like many Hebrew-raised scholars teach with stories. You see how frustrated he gets about the stories that don't have any real logical meaning, like he is supposed to be raised into a Zen-like state from the nonsensicalness. But when you look at his teaching methods, he is the same way! He didn't even understand HIS OWN stories. Also, there is the whole quote from him, "Everything that happens in this office has consequences." That line rings true. He suffered, and endured, and in the end, things seemed to work out. It was right at the end that he made the wrong choice and had to suffer the consequences of his actions. The moments are funny because of how analytical he seems to be in every situation. Every camera angle and every look had an intention. Watch it again (maybe) and notice the facial expressions, the use of space and the quietness of scenes. The random outburst of oddity and it will make sense. I hate being that guy that laughs at everything, but I get their style. The comedy is written between the lines, and the nuances give the film its flavor.