Sunday, January 31, 2010

My favorite 20 films of the 2000s: A Serious Man

These are my 20 personal favorite films of the 2000s and they are not being ranked according to any criteria, other than I love them. So here they are, in alphabetical order:

A Serious Man (2009)

It is no coincidence that the bearded figure who plays a prominently minor role in the Ethan Coen and Joel Coen directed film A Serious Man, holds the last name of Ableman. He is after all, an able man, an all-knowing, community-respected, and generally speaking, a serious man, one who can sort of back door his way into taking your wife away from under your nose and still bring wine to your house for dinner and give you a lesson on how to enjoy it. Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), upon learning all about Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed) and a plethora of sticky life situations, wants to also be a serious man, of sorts - how to go about it, that’s the problem.

With a typical Cohen feel this film moves from the tame to the implausible and back leaving you with the feeling that you just saw something pretty cool but you can’t quite grasp what it was. Perhaps this film isn’t for everyone but I doubt I can find one person who didn’t have his/her smirk-of-the-year moment when Larry, teaching his students, turns towards them and proclaims that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle “proves that we can never really know anything” – and behind him is a mathematical formula that he has just finished writing which takes up the entire chalk board the size of an Imax screen.

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