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July 30, 2009


A Serious Man

A Serious Man trailer

The trailer is out for the Coen Brothers' next movie, A Serious Man. It looks dryly funny, claustrophobic, and a little anxiety-provoking, like their best movies are. The trailer itself doesn't follow the usual narrative-snapshot structure of most trailers -- as Empire describes it, it "loops sound and dialogue to give the impression that DJ Shadow cut it together."

I think this might be their first movie that is, in part, specifically about being Jewish and how the Jewish community as an entity interacts with the main characters. At least that's how it looks from the trailer. They've had Jewish characters in other movies: you've got Barton Fink (which some people think is an allegory for the Holocaust) and Verna and Bernie Bernbaum from Miller's Crossing, but I bet A Serious Man is the movie you could market as the Coens at their Jewiest.

The stars of the movie are largely stage actors, many connected to Minneapolis, which is where the Coens are from and where the movie was shot (as well as in a few other Minnesota towns.) There's Woody Allen regular Fred Melamed (seen in the trailer pounding the lead guy's head against a blackboard over and over again) who's been at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and on Broadway, and stage actors Michael Stuhlbarg and Sari Lennick as the husband and wife whose failing marriage is at the center of the movie.

It comes out in October and looks like it could be a return to the Coen glory days of the 90's. And, tantalizingly, it's "loosely autobiographical". Here's that trailer.

categories: Movies
posted by amy at 12:31 PM | #

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I don't get it. Is Jefferson Airplane going on tour?

Posted by: T-Rock at July 30, 2009 5:02 PM

Grace Slick. Now there's a nice Jewish girl.

Posted by: amy at July 30, 2009 5:23 PM

I hadn't thought about that, but you're right, the explicit Jewishness is something new for them. A part of me fears that it'll be I Heart Huckabees (feh!), but shit, it's the Coens. And I will *vociferously* defend their '00s output---though I'm not a fan of No Country, I think Man Who Wasn't There, Intolerable Cruelty, and yes, The Ladykillers are all hella fantastic (I've been promising The House Next Door my rousing Ladykillers defense for, er, years).

Posted by: That Fuzzy Bastarrd at August 1, 2009 2:43 AM

So Ladykillers is good, huh? I want to be there for that rousing defense, it sounds daringly controversial.

But I guess I'd better see it first. I saw the trailer and never even considered watching it in the theater. By now enough time has passed that I can put aside a high school adoration of the original Ealing movie and see it on its own terms.

I love Man Who Wasn't There, too. Actually I like just about all their movies. But I feel like for a lot of people who are fans, the 90s were when they hit their stride and made the movies that have defined their style. Even though they've departed from any kind of stylistic consistency lots of times.

Also, Crimewave, the one they wrote and Sam Raimi directed -- that thing was just about the funniest movie I had seen in my entire life when my older brother tracked down a copy of it sometime in the early 90s. Surreal comedy gold.

Posted by: amy at August 2, 2009 10:34 PM

I was all set to put Crimewave on my Netflix list until I saw that it gets a whopping two stars from viewers. That gave me pause.

On the other hand, the two movies Netflix recommends as "similar titles to watch instantly?" Pee Wee's Big Adventure and (natch) Evil Dead. Both of which I love, and have never before referenced in the same sentence. So. . . maybe.

I don't remember much about Man Who Wasn't There so I don't think I liked it. Why wouldn't a Coen fan like No Country? I thought it was great - the book was relentlessly gray and grim but the movie told the same story but with enough quirkiness to mitigate the unsettlingness of it. That reminded me of Fargo, which seemed a lot darker when I rewatched it a year ago.

Posted by: T-Rock at August 5, 2009 2:45 PM

Crimewave is a lot freakier than your typical Coen Brothers movie. And it's pretty flawed. I can imagine some nice couple who thought Fargo was gently funny getting their Crimewave disc in the mail from Netflix, putting it on, and getting wigged out by all the nutty disturbing Sam Raimi stuff and cartoonish, violent visual style. Sort of like the hypothetical Oprah fan you once envisioned curling up under a chenille blanket with a chai tea and her new copy of The Road.

But for a Pee Wee/Evil Dead fan, it should do just fine. I haven't seen it since I was 18, and at that time I liked pretty much anything that was surreal, nightmarish, and sick. So if it really is awful, try to be sympathetic.

Posted by: amy at August 5, 2009 9:45 PM

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