Slobodan Pikula / Summit Entertainment
Michael Stuhlbarg in the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man
On this episode of the Plastic Podcast, Rob and J. Robert talk about the new film by the Coen brothers, A Serious Man, and the work of Chantal Akerman, especially her 1993 film D'Est (From the East).
2:01 The Coen Brothers and A Serious Man
28:34 Chantal Akerman and D'Est
- Rob's blog post about A Serious Man
- Forgot to mention: Ben Russell, whose intriguing new film Let Each One Go Where He May has been receiving accolades at film festivals this fall, cites Akerman's D'Est as a major influence, along with the work of Jean Rouch.
Well, look at that. We're a real website. Kind of.
One thing I feel bad we didn't mention (at all? enough?) in the podcast is how great Michael Stuhlbarg is in the main role of Larry. For all my problems with A Serious Man, the acting, especially from Stuhlbarg is top notch.
Good morning Daily Plastic! It is nice to see you again!
Thanks, Andy. I've missed the podcast.
J. Robert, I also wish we'd have mentioned the movie's most inspired metaphor: the Columbia House Record Club. Do nothing and a new record will be sent to you. You must act to prevent a purchase. Insert this into our remarks about Man's default state of guilt.
A footnote about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle mentioned in the Coen movie: From my memory of basic physics classes, which I attended an alarming 15 years ago, the principle says not that you can't know anything but that you can't know everything. That is, you can't know both the location and the velocity of a particle, because the act of measuring it -- which would likely involve slamming it with a particle of known location and velocity -- will change one or both of those values. (Memory is hazy. I can't be bothered to Google this at the moment.)
I mention this because I was going to say that the Coens probably don't know or care about the details of the physics their character teaches -- liberal arts majors, I bet, or just too tired, like me -- until I realized how nicely the principle fits with the dialogue in the second rabbi's office: "Well, you can't know everything." "It seems like you don't know anything!"
I don't understand quantum physics enough to dive into this question, but our first sight of Larry in the classroom is him discussing Schrodinger's Cat. How does that fit with the Uncertainty Principle? And when in the movie does Heisenberg get invoked (I just don't remember that scene well enough)?
Physics majors report?
J. Robert, the UP may just be written on the blackboard as part of the same lecture. I'm not sure we hear him say anything about it. As for the cat, later Larry says, "Even I don't understand the cat."
Lovely listen, guys.
Is it me, or are the Coen Brothers more present than usual in this film? It's not uncommon watching one of their films for me to notice, "oh that line of dialogue sounds like something written by a screenwriter" or "hey that camera composition looks like a carefully storyboarded shot". But this time around I felt like that was happening with practically every single line and every composition!
It somehow seems appropriate, however, for a film that explicitly is "about" the fate of human existence in a (seemingly) pre-ordained universe.