Jewish Journal

‘No Jews were harmed in the making of this motion picture’

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 29, 2009 | 1:13 am

That appears on the back pages of the press notes for the Coen brothers’ new movie.

The LA Times’ Patrick Goldstein asks whether the “A Serious Man,” which opens Oct. 2, is more Jewish than matzoh ball. Here’s his evaluation:

I’m no expert on Judaism, but as someone who’s pretty familiar with Jewish filmmaking, I’d have to say that the Coens are in a category all of their own. Over the past half-century, we’ve seen all sorts of Jewish sensibilities grafted into our movies and TV shows, from the Borscht Belt mugging of Mel Brooks to the sleek one-liners of Neil Simon to the frat-boy raunch of Adam Sandler and the cranky self-involvement of Larry David. But the Coens are originals. “A Serious Man” offers the occasional whiff of Woody Allen (from his “Deconstructing Harry” era) and a definite kinship with Philip Roth (the movie has a bored, slit-eyed Jewish sexpot housewife who could be right out of “Portnoy’s Complaint”).

But the Coens are sui generis Semites. They practice the comedy of Jewish alienation. Having grown up in 1960s suburban Minneapolis, the offspring of two college professors (hence the whiff of autobiography in “Serious Man”), their attitude toward alienation is entirely different than if they’d come of age in Westchester or Woodland Hills.

Talk about Jewy After the jump, a trailer for “A Serious Man.” Take a peak. You’ll see academia and kippot.

Thanks for sending this along, Owen. Good as I’m sure this film will be, I’m still waiting for the Coen brothers to get cracking on “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.”

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