Friday, March 5, 2010

When the truth is found to be lies / And all the joy within you dies

Brandon and I are taking an Aesthetics of Film class at VC. I has been an interesting couple of weeks because I have been given the chance to see many movies I otherwise would not have seen. Every fifth week we must turn in a 'film log' of the four movies we have just seen, giving our thoughts on the way the movie was shot, the acting, etc. This past week we watched "A Serious Man" the Academy Award nominee by the Coen Brothers. I would like to give you my thoughts on this movie because it truly was a very well made film.

Warning: Contains Spoilers!

An ordinary man tries to live his ordinary life but things get in the Sy Abelman.
    This is the third film by the Coen Brothers that I have seen and like the other two, I did not enjoy it. I think it was a very well done, excellent film, it just didn't do anything for me. I know it was a great movie because, as with other movies we have watched in this class, I have not been able to get it out of my head.
    I would like to start with fist adressing the opening scene. The big question is, "Dos this part have anything to do with the rest of the film?" We discussed how the brothers have stated that it does not and perhaps they are right. However, I think that it could be seen as the reason for the whole movie. The couple in the beginning could have been Larry's ancestors and their actions with the supposed dybbuk caused their family to be forever cused, thereby causing the long sting of misfortune for Larry.
    There were a few of the characters in the movie that I thought were amusing. Danny's Hebrew teacher was a fine example of the stuffy old teacher. He just stood at his blackboard, his back to the students, droning on and on in Hebrew. Frankly I also would have almost fallen asleep. The Clive characted I loved. He was so funny in his brolen English, "Secret test. Hush, hush." HIs delivery of the lines was absolutely perfect. The Sy Ableman character was amusing in an annoying way. You knew the actor was doing a good job because you just hated him and were happy when he died.
    I was not overly enthused with the character of Larry Gopnik. He seemed to be a man who was uncomfortable in his own skin. He was completely lost in life, oblivious to the things around him, almost as if he wasn't really there. He was more an observer of life than someone actually living it. I was also annoyed at the foul-mouthed kid on the bus. In movies there always seems to be one kid (as far as I have seen, always a boy) who is trying way to hard to seem "cool" and inserts as many four letter words into his sentances as possible. I am guessing the Coen Brothers hired Simon Helberg to play the part of the Jr. Rabbi because people already have a dard time taking him seriously. In his other roles he seemed much the same character. I couldn't take him seriously and neither did Larry.
    There were a couple of comments made by characters that I found interesting. All throughout the movie members of the Gopnik family kept saying, "I didn't do anything." It's as if none of them actual do anything. Larry certainly does not. He walks through life letting things happen to him rather than making them happen. Also, when Larry, Judith and Sy meet at Amber's and Sy is telling Larry about the Jolly Roger, he tells him they have a pool. The only time we see the pool is during the very sad scene with Arthur and Larry and the pool is completely drained!
    After the movie when we were discussing several people talked about how great the cinematography was. I don't know whether is was my dislike for the movie or if I was just having an off day but I didn't see anything special. The whole movie was very dark, which made taking notes difficult and there were only a few scenes that I found worthy of note. I really liked the shots in the Bar Mitzvah scene. Danny is stoned and it's almost as if he has tunnel vision, he has a very narrow window of focus and all of the edges are blurry. I enjoyed the way they played with the foucs. This was really also the only part of the movie that I could relate to, having had a Bat Mitzvah.
    You may wonder why I say I did not like this movie when I have just spent the last several pages talking about all the great things in it. There are two things that I can pinpoint that would really make me dislike a movie. The first is Larry's character. I could not empathize or relate to this character at all. He just seemed to be floating through life, not trying very hard to be a good father or husband. He was a total doormate, letting everyone walk all over him all the time. The only thing he seemed to understand was physics. If only he understood life the way he understood math. The other thing that severely irked me was the end. Through the movie I could not wait for it to be over. I kind of started to enyoy it the last 30 minutes or so (starting with the Bar Mitzvah scene,) things seemed to be looking up, his wife apologized, Danny gets his radio and money back and Larry decided to change Clive's grade and keep the money. Then the tornado is about to start, there is an onimous call from the doctor and the movie just ends. There is no resolution to anything! The property lawyer dies in the middle of the movie without revealing what he has found, Danny does not give the money he owess to Fagle, Larry and Judith are still going to get a divorce and to top it all off, a tornado is coming but we don't get to see it. I understant that life does not always give you the resolution that you want but to sit through this movie watching this schlub lose everything and not even fight for it and then the audience gets nothing in the end is just annoying.

So there you go, my thoughts on this movie. I am trying not to let my thoughts on the few films by the Coens inform my thoughts on any future movies of theirs I might watch but I must admit that it is difficult. If any of you have seen this movie I would love to hear your thoughts!