A Serious Man

I was going to write a review for A Serious Man. It's a movie I just watched at the Bloor Cinema. It's on Bloor.

Here's a trailer.
Pretty good, huh? And it gives you a good feel for what went on in the moooovie.

I was going to write a review, but I don't know what that means so I'm going to say some things about whatever instead. SPOILER WARNING (just in case), and away we go.

For those that don't know the Bloor Cinema is a big ol' place with one screen and tonnes of seats, both a main level and balcony. They tend to show movies that have been out for a while, art house sort of things or sometimes they play the world's best commercials. You get the idea. This type of venue leads to a certain type of audience. In the case of A Serious Man an audience that laughs.

They laugh in a self-aggrandizing way. Does that make sense? They laugh to show the world their recognition of the cleverness they see before them, and in turn the cleverness that oozes through their own souls.

I know I said there was going to be less judging in my life and this seems a bad start. Oh well. I know this laugh because I've caught myself doing it in the past. These days I try to nod sagely rather than laugh, especially when watching a movie by the Coen brothers who layer so many clever, laughable moments into their work that someone laughing at every one might get...hmmm. Irritating?

Part of the reason I've decided to throw a little judgement on the bar-bee (q) is that I was eavesdropping post show and heard other people make similar comments. Therefore it's okay if I do it. They were confused that there was so much laughter during moments that while humorous did not deserve such belligerent joy.

The movie is one of nuance. Characters' sly mannerisms and tics move the film forward as much if not more than what was a fairly straightforward story, basically everything going wrong for the hero. Although, even as I type, a great deal of subtlety is springing to mind. Still, I feel those plot drivers were intentionally subtle (still important) to allow the performers' performances to carry the piece.

It was the kind of actoring that would likely benefit from repeated viewings. And also the sort of actoring that if given a loud guffaw at each perceived moment of greatness you end up missing a lot.

Right? Good so far.

I'll stop complaining now. If I don't want the movie experience I will stay home!

Because people like movie reviews to have structure I will now discuss the ending. The ending is one of those wha-oh and it's done deals, and a brief perusal of the interweb leads to me to realize there is a lot of possible meaning I might have missed. People are talking theology and Judaism alongside what it all might mean for the characters. I thought it was a pretty all right place to stop things. Sure 100% resolution might be nice, but then post film conversation would be relegated to more like-dislike realms.

As is, the ending has the ability to cause discussion and wikipedia research! What happens to the characters for starters? And from there we go on to all sorts of fun times about theology (did God send the tornado?) and whether the pathetic fallacy of the storm was a message to specific characters who had lost faith or just a general message that life can be shit so enjoy the good you got now, because tomorrow the good you got might be the good you had. Boy howdee!

Hell, there are even all sorts of aspects of the Jewish experience in America that I'm sure flew right over my head. Through the wonders of lobby eavesdropping, facilitated by a toque that just wouldn't sit evenly (cold out, don'tcha know?), I heard some guy talking about difficulties for certain American Jewish communities when it comes to dealing with varied levels of orthodoxy in the clergy. I wasn't listening closely enough to tell you anything beyond that, just saying there are interesting things a vague ending can hint at.

And in conclusion a two things. One - based on a brief skim of forums where movies are discussed I need to develop better analytic skills. It might just be a matter of sitting and thinking about things longer and harder before puking these words onto the internet, or maybe I need to go to movies with people so afterwards I can talk it out and other people can listen to me and my friends opining loudly on what we witnessed. Whatever the solution might be, right now I really feel like my reading of a lot of things (books, movies and on and on) takes place on a very surface level. Buried ideas and discussions elude me, and those are the deals I need to find and understand so I can more convincingly discuss and incorporate them in my own work (eventually).

And two - for me a movie is good or bad if I was immersed, didn't feel the need to check my watch or roll my eyes at obvious idiocy. In this case I enjoyed the film, didn't wonder how long things had been running, enjoyed the characters, watching them closely in an attempt to get more and at the end yelled, "Hey! You guys are alright, want to hang out some more?" They did not.

And that's saying a lot given the cringe inducing problems certain characters were presented with and a personal tendency to shy away from such things.

A Serious Man is a seriously good time. Take the missus!

If you are interested in some commentary and background far more deeply considered than anything I can give look at this interview from Salon, Here!

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