Friday, October 23, 2009

He won't even let me play cards anymore

I'm generally not one to go to movies that make you think too much anymore. I mean, I enjoy well constructed films with clever narrative structures, engaging characters, fine performances, etc. But mostly I go to films for escapism. This was not the case in later high school and college. I mean, yes, I saw plenty of stupid Hollywood shlock in that time period, but I had a strong interest in watching movies that maybe were more serious, experimental, artful, or just weird because I enjoyed figuring out the puzzles of themes and characters that they splayed before me and because they often investigate some core truth about the nature of existence, and even if that investigation is just kind of blindly stabbing and guessing, it's still often reaching for a real truth and not just what we wish were true, which is what seems to be the case regarding the messages of Hollywood blockbusters.

Last night I saw the Coen Bros. latest, A Serious Man, which is as unsettling and bleak a movie as I've ever seen. The conversation afterwards was mostly directed around that issue and how much of a bummer it was that that was the movie we ended up seeing. But I have to say, after a day of removal, that A Serious Man is a fucking fantastic bit of cinema. Oh, yes, it's stomach churning  watching the main character get the shit kicked out of him by fate without putting up a fight. It makes you queasy and is inordinately frustrating. The Coen Bros. have been practicing their rug-pulling technique and the end of the film finds you flat on your back staring into a blackness of uncertainty and destruction and evil.

"When the truth is found to be lies, and all the joy within you dies... "

Has anyone else seen this movie? Did it have the same affect?

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