Monday, August 03, 2009


There are already arguments brewing about the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man, and the movie itself is still a couple of months away. The trailer alone has started a spirited forum thread at The Auteurs, with everything from the expected praise to the expected damnation ("The Coens and Quentin Taratino have done more to destroy film culture than anyone in the history of the cinema.") Here's the evidence. What do you think? Based solely on this trailer, will you be expecting shit, Shinola, or something in between? Or maybe we ought to reserve judgment until we see the actual movie? Discuss!



Slamdance said...

If nothing else it's a very well constructed trailer. I don't know, I'm a Coen's fanatic, so I'd probably look forward to it even the trailer was just a five minute clip of The Jefferson's I would still be calling it the must-watch movie of the year.

And although I like The Auteurs as a whole, "The Coens and Quentin Taratino have done more to destroy film culture than anyone in the history of the cinema." is exactly the kind of blunt lack of insight that characterizes the forums there.

Oh, it's David Ehrenstein. It's all coming together.

Robert Fiore said...

Through Fargo it seemed as though the Coens would alternate between stories where human life is treated as if it means something and live action cartoons. In the years since the balance has tipped so far in favor of the cartoons that they've come to seem like trivial artists. It's not that I get no enjoyment out of the cartoons – I actually like the ones that no one else seems to, like Hudsucker Proxy and Intolerable Cruelty – but in a sense I've lost patience with them.

Exhibit A for the essential triviality of their outlook is O Brother Where Art Thou?, which in transferring the Odyssey to America converts what is in the original the rationale for an entire civilization into a tale told by an idiot. The problem with that is not that it belittles America but that it doesn't seem to have considered the implications of this conversion at all. They just seem to be completely unaware of the cultural significance of their source material.

Based on the trailer alone A Serious Man could conceivably go either way, though if I were betting I'd say dreary existentialism a la The Man Who Wasn't There. There are a couple of projects they have in development that look really intriguing, though: An adaptation of The Yiddish Policeman's Union and a remake of True Grit. (Tommy Lee Jones as Rooster Cogburn?)

David Ehrenstein takes a position on the Coens and Quentin Tarantino that I infer is based on morality and a set of assumptions on what art ought to be which though I don't agree with them would probably have validity if he bothered to articulate them. Because he sees this as a matter of self-evident right and wrong rather than a matter of aesthetic judgment he has no patience with people who don't share them. As a consequence his comments are on the same intellectual level as I would be if I were to call him a faggot.

Neil Fulwood said...

Ehrenstein's quote that Tarantino and the Coens have done "more to destroy film culture than anyone in the history of cinema" is not just hyperbolic and hysterical, it also completely ignores the rape of film art committed by the likes of Michael Bay, James Cameron, George Lucas and - although few will thank me for saying this - Steven Spielberg; all, in their way, responsible for the perpetuation of spectacle-driven event movies which have cumulatively driven film budgets and ticket prices to ridiculously superannuated levels.

Love or hate the Coens, they have an authorial style all their own and at their finest ('The Man Who Wasn't There', 'No Country For Old Men') demonstrate superlative craftsmanship and a genuine filmmaking intelligence.

Ehrenstein's attack on Tarantino is a little easier to understand - with the exception of the commendably understated 'Jackie Brown', Tarantino has shown a marked propensity to remaking the most iconic moments from his favourite movies. However, I would argue that Tarantino has a valid place in film culture - albeit pop culture; the culture of the B-movie, the oddity, the guilty pleasure - and is certainly a more deserving director than many of the bland helmers making identikit summer tentpole movies.

Rant over.

Re: the trailer. I'm with Slamdance: the construction is excellent. The content? On first glance, the off-kilter visual style of the Coens seems absent, and the business with the rabbi and his disinterested secretary put me in mind of Herb Meyerson in 'Intolerable Cruelty', a perfectly entertaining time-waster but one of the least of the Coens' output.

I'll reserve judgement until I've actually seen the film.

Watch Full Movies said...

No doubt...The trailer was good one. It was 5 minute video. I really liked it. Thank you for sharing with us.

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