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Overstreet

A Serious Man (2009)

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Yes.

I love Richard Kind. And it makes so much sense that he's becoming a Coen Brothers star.

QUOTE
The Coen brothers have tapped a pair of relative unknowns to star in their next pic, "A Serious Man."

Michael Stuhlbarg, a Tony-nominated actor with little experience in front of the cameras, and Richard Kind, a character actor best known for his role on ABC's "Spin City," will star as brothers in the period black comedy.

Set in 1967, story centers on Larry Gopnik (Stuhlbarg), a Midwestern professor whose life begins to unravel when his wife sets out to leave him and his socially inept brother (Kind) won't move out of the house.

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More details in today's press release:

NEW YORK, September 8th, 2008

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: . . . his daughter Sarah is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job.

Gosh, between this and Burn After Reading, the Coens sure seem to take a dim view of plastic surgery and those who seek it.

Coincidentally, a few days or weeks ago, I watched Rosanna Arquette's documentary Searching for Debra Winger, in which Frances McDormand (wife to one of the Coens, and the woman who plays the plastic-surgery seeker in BAR) talks about how so many women in Hollywood look increasingly inauthentic as they get older, so when she reaches that age, and filmmakers want to find authentic-looking actresses to play characters that age, they will have to come to McDormand and the tiny number of women like her who have resisted the cosmetic surgery.

And then Arquette interviews Meg Ryan, she of the oddly (and recently) puffy lips. But I digress.

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This, from a new press release:

Filmed on location in Minnesota for Focus and Working Title Films, A Serious Man will open in limited release on October 2nd.

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Bizarrely, the A&F search engine didn't turn up ANYTHING with the word "serious" -- not even THIS thread. I found the original thread using Google.

(sigh) The "search" feature on this site is now dead to me.

Here -

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I hope I end up agreeing with Jeffrey Wells. What a rave.

Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man is a brilliant LQTM black comedy that out-misanthropes Woody Allen by a country mile and positively seethes with contempt for complacent religious culture (in this case '60s era Minnesota Judaism). I was knocked flat in the best way imaginable and have put it right at the top of my Coen-best list. God, it's such a pleasure to take in something this acidic and well-scalpeled. The Coens are fearless at this kind of artful diamond-cutting.

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I hope I end up agreeing with Jeffrey Wells. What a rave.
Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man is a brilliant LQTM black comedy that out-misanthropes Woody Allen by a country mile and positively seethes with contempt for complacent religious culture (in this case '60s era Minnesota Judaism). I was knocked flat in the best way imaginable and have put it right at the top of my Coen-best list. God, it's such a pleasure to take in something this acidic and well-scalpeled. The Coens are fearless at this kind of artful diamond-cutting.

I had to look up LQTM... I'm rapidly falling out of touch with all of the cool internet lingo the kids are spewing out these days.... I turn 45 on Tuesday..... :unsure:

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The title and synopsis reminds me of Jeff Daniel's character's dismissal of so many people around him as, "not serious people," in The Squid and the Whale.

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I hope I end up agreeing with Jeffrey Wells. What a rave.
Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man is a brilliant LQTM black comedy that out-misanthropes Woody Allen by a country mile and positively seethes with contempt for complacent religious culture (in this case '60s era Minnesota Judaism). I was knocked flat in the best way imaginable and have put it right at the top of my Coen-best list. God, it's such a pleasure to take in something this acidic and well-scalpeled. The Coens are fearless at this kind of artful diamond-cutting.

I had to look up LQTM... I'm rapidly falling out of touch with all of the cool internet lingo the kids are spewing out these days.... I turn 45 on Tuesday..... :unsure:

I'm "only" 38 and have no idea what "LQTM" stands for. However, a day ago I did launch (accidentally, sort of) my own Facebook page/profile. So things are moving along.

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Peter Sciretta at /film:
A Serious Man is my favorite Coen Brothers film produced in the last decade, the exact period of time since Ethan and Joel created the comedy cult classic The Big Lewbowski. It is not only a brilliant dark comedy which will have you laughing out loud, but a masterful character study filled with great performances, of a family in crisis, the moral decisions they face, and the horribly funny consequences that result. The ending will have you talking about the movie well after leaving the theater, which to me is one of the definitions of great cinema.
Edited by Overstreet

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FWIW, Mike D'Angelo:

A Serious Man: 41. A Coen Bros. movie for everyone who thought FARGO was their breakthrough masterpiece rather than their first misstep. . . . I think it's their worst film to date, but it's certainly better *made* than LADYKILLERS.

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Ebert:

The Coen brothers' new film, "A Serious Man," tells a Jewish story. It is largely about misery and bad luck, and it's very funny. ... If you aren't Jewish when you go into this movie, you may be when you come out. ... I want to briefly discuss several films I've seen at Toronto his year, so this isn't the time for a full-dress review. But let me praise the brothers, Ethan and Joel, for making no attempt to "mainstream" the story in a misguided attempt to appeal to the goyim. Being specific makes their movie more accessible, not less, because there's some Larry Gopnik in all of us.

Morton:

After the happy accident of BURN AFTER READING, the Coen Brothers are back to their usual comic form with another snarky cartoon minstrel show, a contemptuous put-up job that looks down on its characters and the caricatured world they inhabit for no discernable reason, and here manages to add “profoundly stupid and borderline blasphemous.” Very early in my viewing notes (the previous scrawls refer to the next-door neighbors going hunting), I have it written “why am I so not liking this.” And on a few day’s reflection, I realized it was because of the tonal and plot resemblances to my all-time least favorite Coens’ film, O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU (the overdone minstrelsy, ending with a natural disaster that has theological implications), and the way that the central character, a Job figure, was too put upon for anything resembling believability, sense or even funny stylization — every person around him is one-note and played in an extremely shrill chord. And the Coens’ baroque writing and directing style manages to turn it all up to about 12.

The contempt oozes off the screen ...

Edited by Overstreet

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Cathleen Falsani, author of The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, reports.

The Coens have created moral universes in which some of life's essential questions are asked -- if not always answered. These queries run the gamut from the meaning of life and enlightenment, to the fundamental nature of grace, truth and love. There is seemingly no question the brothers are afraid to tackle, either with a wink and a smile or brutal honesty (and sometimes both).

There is a moral order to the worlds the Coens create. Whether it's a farcical crime caper or an American Gothic tale of betrayal, there always are consequences to the characters' actions, for better or for worse.

Bad guys are punished and the decent are rewarded for their innate goodness, though beware the viewer who assumes it will be easy to discern which is which.

Sins come to light; lies and deception are revealed. Occasionally, the hand of God intervenes to restore order from chaos.

"A Serious Man," which hits theaters nationwide Oct. 2, encapsulates all of the spiritual themes the Coens have examined in their past films and introduces audiences to one of the more intriguing (if little-known) theological notions from Judaism -- that of the Lamed Vavnik, the 36 righteous souls in every generation upon whom the fate of the rest of the world rests.

The film continues the Coens' work as secular theologians whose body of work one astute critic described as "the most sneakily moralistic in recent American cinema."

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Ebert wrote:

: If you aren't Jewish when you go into this movie, you may be when you come out.

:lol: Okay, now I REALLY gotta see this.

Actually, now that I've read vjmorton's review, I think an even more brilliant pairing of quotes would be the above line from Ebert, combined with this one from Morton: "Then we get to the film

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Annelise, if it makes you feel any better, I don't think I'll be seeing it anytime soon either, although it opens in the D.C. market Oct. 9, a week after it opens in other markets (L.A. and NY, presumably).

I just found out that the movie is screening for the press in the daytime next Tuesday, but for schlubs like me with other daytime jobs, our only evening screening is next Thursday, the night before the film opens! Such scheduling was once the province of distributors looking to minimize opening-day reviews of movies it knew were dogs. But night-before-opening screenings are happening more often for awards-caliber movies.

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Alissa Wilkinson reviews the film here:

A Serious Man, it seems, is the most direct that the Coen brothers have been about their idea of the way the world operates. Their body of work is rife with characters who meet untimely and seemingly random ends, who simply cannot catch a break. But whereas some of them (notably, the Dude in The Big Lebowski) manage to keep their troubles from getting in the way of having a good time, Larry is just snowed under. We're made to understand that Larry will never again be able to live a normal life. As in No Country for Old Men or Burn After Reading or Fargo or nearly any other Coen movie, tragedy and comedy strike simultaneously and at random; life is absurd, and it might be senseless.

Except, Larry senses something purposeful to the senselessness

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Glenn Kenny:

This notion that Joel and Ethan Coen consider themselves superior to the characters they depict is sure a persistent one. It's an accusation that can be answered one of two ways: "Really?" and, more conveniently, "What of it?" My own view of the matter is that the Coens actually do have a great deal of affection/sympathy for their creations. They just have a funny way of showing it, is all. . . .

The problem for the Coens is that they happen to have made a handful of what some call "serious," or "mature" movies. This sets them somewhat apart from Quentin Tarantino, who's never done any such thing (although one might consider Jackie Brown a sort of feint toward "maturity"), in that it gives the scolds out there some material ammunition; it allows them to moan, "Why do you waste your time and mine on such puerile dreck when you could be constructing masterpieces on the level of Fargo and No Country For Old Men?"

A Serious Man must be especially maddening for such folks (I have stayed away from most of the reviews of it so far, reading only three, and, wow, I kind of can't believe how largely perceptive Armond White's piece on it is), as it is something new in the Coen oeuvre: A completely seamless hybrid of their putatively mature mode with their outrageous cartoonish one. This '60s-set tale of an ever-beset Midwestern Jew is a The Book of Job on acid and running on a 360 horsepower engine. The 19th-century-set preface, in which a well-meaning schlemiel brings a dybbuk into his home, doesn't need a follow-up or an explanation; it succinctly states the film's dual theme: It's always something, and more often than not, it's something you could have avoided. Poor Larry Gopnik, the film's constantly put-upon protagonist, is a very smart, and kind, and largely blameless man, but what he fails to grasp is that his passivity is part of what's bringing about his downfall. He lets everybody

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