A Serious Man (2009)
Writer: Joel & Ethan Coen
Director: Joel & Ethan Coen
Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg
A Jewish dude in the Cold War tires to take his life seriously and is stymied at every turn.
shiksa, shiksa, shiksa! this movie flew over my W.A.S.P. head! i saw it go over as a tiny spec in the sky. Moster says i was thinking too hard, but i disagree. this movie was obviously entrenched with jewish mythos of which i have no knowledge of. and as i said in the discussions that have occurred since, every single detail in a coen brother's movie is deliberate and meticulously thought out. that much i could see. i just didn't get it. it was almost like watching a foreign movie without the subtitles. you get the gist of it, you just don't comprehend on any other level.
I think that my estimable woman tried to look at this movie through her exposure to the Founders of Circumcision; and I think that that was her undoing. It is like watching a movie in another language because it requires the additional investment of looking at contextual clues, suspending your own system, and putting yourself into the one the characters inhabit. But I digress; and I've broken the rules: I'm not supposed to read her review before I write mine.
This is the most bleak Cohen comedy to date, by a wide margin, and I loved it. The story here is really funny. A lot of the shit Larry goes through is amplified experiences that many people encounter: An asshole of a wife, teenage kids, people at work screwing with you for minor advancement, people taking advantage of you because you try to be a nice person and live according to an ethos, being confused by the nature of the universe and having those who are ostensibly there to help you understand things just make them worse. The describers of the universe, the origin of that ethos, is secondary. Larry attempts to plod through, only to be hit in the face with a plank at every turn. Once in a while, someone drives another nail into that plank and it's inevitable that one of them will enter his temple and end blind him with blood. All of the characters, down to his handful-of-lines daughter are drawn very well. Every voice that whines its way into Larry's brain is unique. All of them are acted very well or better.
And it's a Cohen movie, so we're watching it through their truly effortless style. I have difficulty analyzing styles such as this (when they're done well) because the effort that went into them is substantially transparent. It's like we're Steve Zissou, watching beautiful creatures swim operatically thousands of feet below the sea, through a meter of perfectly clear glass.