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December 06, 2013


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For those of us not conversant with the Scene In Question, any particularly critical prep work to do in order to recognize the full blossom of that knottiness? I can garble the lyrics to 20 different Bob Dylan songs, but I'm guessing that's probably not sufficient.


Thank you for the excellent Dean review (and your own, as well). Why hasn't this notion of "the Coens as sadists" died yet? Yes, sometimes they are satirists, depicting cruel outcomes as punishment for hubris, or sanely pointing out the Ecclesiastes-inspired message of No Country ("all is vanity"), but this isn't exactly children burning ants to death with a magnifying glass. There are philosophical and/or dramatic reasons why many of their characters end up where they do. And they're not sadists to the audience. In other words, Larry Gopnick might suffer, but I have gotten a lot of comfort and wisdom from A Serious Man.

Chuck Bowen

Glenn, I had that "Davis" reaction you describe to "Her", which was # 1 on my ballot.

"Davis", though, I also loved.

Glenn Kenny

Sean, it's narrative knottiness, not musical. No scene knowledge required. Also, Llewyn and most of the other singers portrayed in this picture enunciate when they sing.

Matt Miller

Oh my, that Hoberman piece that Dean links to. I mean, just look at this:

"Turturro starred as another sort of Jew in Barton Fink, which, set in 1941, staged a virtual death match between two then potent stereotypes—the vulgar Hollywood mogul and the arty New York communist—without any hint that their minstrel show battle royale was occurring at the acme of worldwide anti-Semitism. That might have ruined the joke."

This is one of those "did he actually WATCH the movie" review lines that I most readily associate with Armond White. Distressing to see a critical blind spot that big in Hoberman.


"Sean, it's narrative knottiness, not musical."

Too bad. I was really hoping they'd kick off with I Left My Wallet in El Segundo again...


"This is one of those "did he actually WATCH the movie" review lines that I most readily associate with Armond White. Distressing to see a critical blind spot that big in Hoberman."

OTOH, The Brothers Coen really do regularly traffic in unflattering Jewish stereotypes. As a Member Of The Tribe myself, I find absolutely nothing objectionable in their doing so. But J., wrongheaded as he may be on this count, isn't just conjuring up something out of nothing.

Matt Miller

If Hoberman limited his critique to that, I wouldn't think twice about it. But to claim that BARTON FINK contains nary a "hint" of WWII or the Holocaust isn't just to miss subtext, it's to have your eyes closed and your ears plugged for pretty much the last 15 minutes of the movie. It's demonstrably wrong.

Noam Sane

I'm actively avoiding reviews, trailers, clips, or the suddenly ubiquitous John Goodman on my teevee. Goin' in fresh, excitedly. When it gets here, because I live in the American outback.

As for the Mars film, I again recommend Cory McAbee's "The American Astronaut." Not a serious film, but a serious director for sure. It's really a beautiful thing once you accept its limitations.


FTR, Owen Gleiberman thinks World War Z is better than this. Just felt like that needed to be said.

Chris L.

Mark: Indeed he does, but at least ILD made the list, which I would never have predicted from his initial Cannes report. Evidently some major reconsideration has taken place in the last 6 months or so:



C'mon, Gleiberman said it's one of the 10 best movies of the year. So what if he ranked World War Z ahead of it? It's not like he did an Armond White-style comparison in which he used some crazy interpretation of World War Z to show how horrible and phony ILD is.


Speaking of Armond, his top ten for 2013 is in the latest 'Sight and Sound' (along with plenty of other critics').


Noam - Found "American Astronaut" on Netflix and took it in over the weekend. I think it's safe to say that the film wouldn't work at all but for the inventive cinematography. It's a shame that the pacing and acting is so hit and miss because there's the kernel of a genuinely engaging film, if still a bit bizarre. Instead, it remains an occasionally entertaining curiosity. Glad I saw it, though. Thanks for the tip!

Matt B.

I can't be the only guy who flashed on Kaufman's THE WANDERERS at the end of ILD, can I?

Noam Sane

Kurzleg, I am an evangelist for Cory McAbee, I wish they would give him the new Star Wars, at least you'd get something actually entertaining out of it.

"Stingray Sam" is on Netflix too, the charmingly awkward acting remains but it's a little tighter film in general and quite wonderful.

Glad you sort-of enjoyed.


Thanks for this suggestion, interesting choice!

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