A Serious Man
With A Serious Man, the BRILLIANT new film from the Coen Brothers, I think they officially pass Tarantino as the greatest filmmakers of the past twenty years. With the exception of two missteps (The Ladykillers and Burn After Reading), all of their output is at least good (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, The Man Who Wasn’t There), but, more often than not, brilliant (Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, etc.). Here, they draw on their life experiences growing up Jewish in Minnesota in the late 60s, to create an extraordinary meditation on the meaninglessness of life and the inevitability of death. Everything is incredible; the always slightly disturbing but never over-the-top score, the over-meticulous (in a good way) set design and art direction, Deakins’ obviously perfect cinematography, the pitch black comedy of the script (“It’s gonna be FINE.”), and, most importantly, the lead performance of Michael Stuhlbarg. The Coen Brothers made the smart decision of filling a large portion of their cast with stage actors, and they couldn’t have made a better choice with their lead. A lot has been said of the ending, that it’s too bleak, out of place, etc., etc., but I think it works just fine, and keeps with the feeling of dread hovering over the entire film. Overall, one of the best movies of 2009, and quite possibly a new inclusion into the Coen Brothers top 5 films.