A Serious Man (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 02-05-2010, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=166089&d=1265398037
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

88






Studio and Year: Universal - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 106 minutes
Genre: Comedy

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French DTS 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Fred Melamed, George Wyner, Adam Arkin, Simon Helberg,
Written & Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Music by: Carter Burwell
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 9, 2010







"Are you serious?"



Film Synopsis:

Academy Award®-winning directors Joel and Ethan Coen return to their comedy roots with this original and darkly humorous story about one ordinary man's quest to become a serious man. Physics professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) can't believe his life: His wife is leaving him for his best friend, his unemployed brother won't move off the couch, someone is threatening his career, his kids are a mystery and his neighbor is tormenting him by sunbathing nude. Struggling
to make sense of it all, Larry consults three different rabbis and their answers lead him on a twisted journey of faith, family, delinquent behavior and mortality.




My Take:

The brief definition of the word crisis: a dramatic emotional or circumstantial upheaval in a person's life. This would appropriately describe the life of Larry Gopnik in A serious man. It's Minnesota in 1967. Larry Gopnik is Jewish and a sort of nebbish type that works at the local university, is married with two teenage children, and has his sickly brother, Arthur, living with him. Larry is up for tenure at work, however one of the board members infers to him that the recent receipt of anonymous letters casting Larry in a questionable light, shouldn't affect his consideration. Larry's wife Judith has announced that she wants a divorce, and that she wants him to move out and her new beau Sy to move in. His teenage children could care less, other than regularly pilfering from his wallet or only showing interest in him when it is time to adjust the aerial so that F Troop comes in clearly. Larry is being threatened with a lawsuit by the parent of a Korean student because he defamed him with a failing grade. With the world closing in Larry looks to his faith for support and seeks the counsel of three rabbis. Unfortunately Larry's search for spiritual answers is less than satisfying and he must look to his heart.

I am a fan of many Coen Brothers films, among my favorites is Fargo, O'Brother where art thou, and No country for old men. Quite honestly I knew nothing of this film going into this review. A serious man is unconventional, unpredictable and at times irreducibly bizarre in its seemingly oblique satire. It's ethnically characterized but not in an offensive way as those elements although integral remains primarily unadulterated by its darker comedic tone. I must admit that there were times that I found myself trying to find the humor in the story. I didn't understand the need for the strange opening segment nor did I care for the ending. On the other hand I did appreciate the subtle albeit outrageous moments of facetiousness that are most decidedly The Coen Brothers style. I liked the idea of using a blend of new faces mixed with many familiar character actors among the cast. I was particularly impressed with Richard Kind's portrayal of Arthur Gopnik. This is my first experience with Michael Stuhlbarg but I must say he gave a wonderful performance that anchored them all. When it was over I found myself a bit indifferent, but with a desire to revisit this film. I have always found that Coen Brothers films often require repeat viewings to glean the most from them and suspect that this is no different. There is no denying that A serious man is a memorable film regardless of whether you liked it or not. Its potential lies in its dark comedic narrative that exfoliates the turbulent human condition experienced by one man striving to be serious.








Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, some sexuality/nudity, drug content, and brief violence.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 82



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373699

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373699

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373699

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699


Video: 94


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

A serious man comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 mbps.

This is a reference quality high definition transfer that looks spectacular. Images are transparent with exquisite detail and a near infinite sense of depth. Close ups and mid level shots are incredibly detailed and revealing of even the subtlest nuance visible within facial features, clothing, and objects/backgrounds within the frame. Fidelity is never in question regardless of perspective. At times I found the visuals onscreen to be breath taking. Colors are kept within the scope of the time frame which means lots of browns, grays, greens and blacks. The splashes of bright oranges and yellows provide a welcomed respite and pop nicely. The delineated sepia toned colors have a succulent quality that reveals subtle gradations and enhances depth. Skin tones are vibrant, tonally rich and chock full of fine textural nuance. Blacks are rich, gradationally strong and dynamic which helps them pop during sequences that contained both light and dark elements. Detail in uneven light and darkened environments (such as in the Jolly Roger hotel room) reveals discerning shapes and structure in backgrounds/objects. Grain is present and maintains a filmic textural essence that presides over the presentation without intrusion. I found this to be an impressive and pristine quality high definition video presentation from Universal.

The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack yields crisp, well textured dialogue that renders even subtle variances in tonal character or vocal inflections clearly. The music featured throughout the film exhibits high level, smooth treble and appreciable refinement. The audio presentation is delivered across the front soundstage with intermittent splashes of ambience through the rear channels that broaden the sound field. Surround use isn't prevalent but atmospheric effects and occasional panning sequences create a believable listening environment that blends well with the front three channels. There isn't a lot of bass associated with this soundtrack but the mix generates palpable low frequencies when applied.



Bonus Features:


  • (HD) Becoming serious - 17 minute featurette

  • (HD) Creating 1967 - 13 minute production featurette

  • (HD) Hebrew & Yiddish for Goys - 2 minute feature

  • BD-Live enabled - Allows sharing of favorite scenes with friends, downloading trailer and more




Final Thoughts:

A serious man is a dark, unconventional comedy from the minds of the Coen Brothers. Those familiar with their films will have more of an appreciation for its unique offbeat narrative which is capable of deriving humor from chaos via expose involving the human condition. While I didn't fully connect with it there is potential to be found which leaves me eager to give it another spin. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Home Entertainment featuring superlative high definition video, commendable DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound and a sparse bonus feature set that left me wanting. A serious man on Blu-ray Disc comes highly recommended for fans but I would urge those not familiar with it to rent first.









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post #2 of 27 Old 02-05-2010, 12:56 PM
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This is on the top of my 'to see' list as I felt the same when I saw it in the theaters...something about it left me empty yet wanting to give it another examination.

Thanks Ralph!
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post #3 of 27 Old 02-06-2010, 09:59 PM
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I did not understand this movie at all. There were some really funny parts, but most of the film I was bored with. I think I just didn't grasp the concept at all. What did the first few minutes of the A Serious Man have to do with the rest of the film? I must have totally missed the meaning of the film.
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post #4 of 27 Old 02-07-2010, 02:28 AM
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The Cohens have always been hit and miss with me, but I'm looking forward to seeing this one. Netflix should send it too me next week, hopefully.

Thx for the review, Ralph!
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post #5 of 27 Old 02-07-2010, 10:33 AM
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When watching this film I was very confused with the Jewish folklore and references, but I have to say that once it was over I was thinking about what happened an awful lot for the next few days. I think the theme is "do good" or else face dire consequences.

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post #6 of 27 Old 02-07-2010, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn View Post

When watching this film I was very confused with the Jewish folklore and references, but I have to say that once it was over I was thinking about what happened an awful lot for the next few days. I think the theme is "do good" or else face dire consequences.

Greetings,

Perhaps. Although the Coen's admit that the film's opening had no connection to the story...strange.

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post #7 of 27 Old 02-07-2010, 11:27 PM
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I really liked this one.

One of the better Cohen's movies, I think - but then, I never got the appeal of Fargo....
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post #8 of 27 Old 02-08-2010, 06:42 AM
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Mixed reviews on this one as what others have said. You either connect with it or you don't. Personally there were certain funny parts and others scenes left me dumbdfounded. I'd personally give this one a rent.

Cheers
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post #9 of 27 Old 02-10-2010, 11:03 AM
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I really didn't enjoy it at all. I didn't get the Jewish folklore and references went over my head. Also, the start and ending left me cold as well. Thanks to netfix for not shipping it out and forcing me to waste $20 on it. I LOVE most of the Coen brothers films but not this one. I only wish Fargo looked this good as the pq is stunning.

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post #10 of 27 Old 02-10-2010, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan View Post

I really didn't enjoy it at all. I didn't get the Jewish folklore and references went over my head. Also, the start and ending left me cold as well. Thanks to netfix for not shipping it out and forcing me to waste $20 on it. I LOVE most of the Coen brothers films but not this one. I only wish Fargo looked this good as the pq is stunning.

Greetings,

Sorry about that Tom..


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post #11 of 27 Old 02-10-2010, 12:06 PM
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I need to read your reviews before I make a blind buy.

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post #12 of 27 Old 02-18-2010, 10:37 AM
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I liked the movie (mostly) up until the end....sometimes a movie's ending can be so good that it makes a lame movie good......or sometimes a movie's ending can be so bad (this one) that it makes an enjoyable movie horrible
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post #13 of 27 Old 02-19-2010, 04:50 AM
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I wanted to like this movie based on the reviews but it did just did nothing for me. I was expecting a funny, witty, dark humored movie but I felt it was stale. Just wasn't for me.
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post #14 of 27 Old 02-19-2010, 10:44 AM
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For anyone who may not know, this movie is loosely based on the story of Job. The movie made a lot more sense to me when I took it as that. The abrupt ending was a little bit strange for me too but it is the Coen brothers. No Country for Old Men had a pretty ambiguous ending itself.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

Greetings,

Perhaps. Although the Coen's admit that the film's opening had no connection to the story...strange.

They often do stuff like that. Like the hat rolling around in MILLER'S CROSSING...had nothing to do with anything, by their own admission.
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post #16 of 27 Old 02-23-2010, 06:53 AM
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This film is what my wife calls a "slice of life" type film. Nothing, other than life events, happens and the end is that life goes on with more events happening to the characters.

She hates this type of movie as it provides no resolution. Issues faced are replaced by new issues and the characters go on.

I have more patience with this type of film and enjoyed this one.

Here is a guy with book smarts galore who has been a good member of his community (Jewish, in this case). He has done all the right things in life but things are coming apart at the seams.

Seeking help only adds to the frustration - lawyers drive you into debt; religious leaders just provide gobbly gook. In the end, you just go on.

Film makers all go back to their roots. The Coens did this here, celebrating their heritage, while showing that it has the same issues that other cultures have.

If you like or dislike the plot, you will definitely love the pq. Blu-rays don't come looking any better than this. Detail and natural sharpness in spades. Colors and skin tones are spot on. The classic cars shown in the film look better than they probably did when they rolled off the showroom floor.

Rent first. Buy if the film snags your interest. If you like the film, it will be tough to pinpoint what you liked about it (other than the visuals), but it does get to you by showing life's struggle and frustration.
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post #17 of 27 Old 02-23-2010, 09:25 AM
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This film just left me feeling completely puzzled and shaking my head.
I didn't get the relevance of the beginning and was equally stumped by the ending.
There where some good scenes and acting but as a whole, this film didn't do anything for me.
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post #18 of 27 Old 02-23-2010, 12:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JJHXBR View Post

This film just left me feeling completely puzzled and shaking my head.
I didn't get the relevance of the beginning and was equally stumped by the ending.
There where some good scenes and acting but as a whole, this film didn't do anything for me.

The film makers admitted in one of the extras that the beginning segment didn't have anything to do with the story. They compared it to the old days when you got to see a cartoon before the movie. The cartoon wasn't related to the content of the movie.

Seems like a strange choice to me, but I wasn't advising on the film. It may have had more relevance to the Jewish audience, as the 1st part of the film was in Yiddish.

The end was quite a surprise, but did convey that the issues we are concerned with day after day may not be such a big deal in the end. There are always worse things possible and they might be right around the corner (or on the other end of the phone).

Definitely not a film for everybody.
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post #19 of 27 Old 02-28-2010, 10:21 AM
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The Coens Bros endings to their movies get me everytime. lol.

Good movie. Very quirky.
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post #20 of 27 Old 03-01-2010, 09:56 AM
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I enjoy most films that I watch (150-200 per year), but this one had me shaking my head. It was a waste of time.

The story didn't go anywhere, and the ending was ridiculous. The Coen brothers seem to be intentionally tempting the limit of what fans will accept as a good film. The character relationships didn't make much sense, and the beginning of the film was intentionally disconnected from the main story line. I was unable to connect with any of the story, not because of the heavy Jewish themed plot, but because the story, or lack thereof, was blah.

Not recommended.

PQ 4 out of 5, SQ 3.5 out of 5, Film: 1.5 out of 5

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post #21 of 27 Old 03-02-2010, 11:06 AM
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I completely agree, I just did not get this movie. Normally I like well done pieces from this period but I found the focus on Jewish traditions pretentious and boring. Let me guess, the Coen brothers are Jewish and grew up in the 50's-60's?
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post #22 of 27 Old 03-09-2010, 09:57 PM
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Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
At the beginning, when the doctor looks in his ear, anyone else notice that skin discoloration that the camera stopped on for a bit? A cancerous lesion, & foreshadowing maybe?
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post #23 of 27 Old 03-10-2010, 07:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunbar View Post

I completely agree, I just did not get this movie. Normally I like well done pieces from this period but I found the focus on Jewish traditions pretentious and boring. Let me guess, the Coen brothers are Jewish and grew up in the 50's-60's?

That's a Bingo!!
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post #24 of 27 Old 03-16-2010, 08:49 PM
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This movie is a mess. Whoa is this movie a mess. Some parts are funny. The whole part that has to do with his wife wanting a divorce and wanting him to move out, yet they still all want to be friends. I found the humor in that to be good. But the opening of this movie makes no sense. Trying to read the subtitles and follow this scene is just a mess. The end of the movie is even more bizarre. This movie leaves you hanging, literally. Talk about wasting 1:45 minutes of ones life. I thought after suffering through most of the movie at least the ending might tie all the things in together, but that was not to be the case. I would honestly like to know how this movie was nominated for an Academy Award. I suspect that was based largely on past reputation, all though I can only suspect that.
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post #25 of 27 Old 03-17-2010, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matts View Post

I would honestly like to know how this movie was nominated for an Academy Award. I suspect that was based largely on past reputation, all though I can only suspect that.

It was nominated because Academy members voted for it.

Reasons? Reputation of the film makers certainly has an impact. Many of the voting members of the Academy are Jewish and identify with the characters and the traditions shown in the film. Finally, the film is different than the typical comedy/drama.

This film is certainly not for everybody. I enjoyed it, but cannot explain why. I thought the ending was the best part of the film - once I got over the shock of that being the end.
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post #26 of 27 Old 03-17-2010, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aydu View Post

It was nominated because Academy members voted for it.

Reasons? Reputation of the film makers certainly has an impact. Many of the voting members of the Academy are Jewish and identify with the characters and the traditions shown in the film. Finally, the film is different than the typical comedy/drama.

This film is certainly not for everybody. I enjoyed it, but cannot explain why. I thought the ending was the best part of the film - once I got over the shock of that being the end.

Certainty I am not trying to bash this film or imply that it being nominated was a gross misjustice. Just that I was surprised with so many other films this past year, this film made it into the best picture category, when films like The Informant did not. I thought The Informant turned out a little bit better than A Serious Man. This movie just seemed to never really fully come together. It almost felt incomplete at the end. I respect those that liked the movie, but I felt the Academy members were mighty generous in nominating this movie. But to each his own.
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post #27 of 27 Old 07-11-2010, 05:51 PM
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First, a word about the physical production of the disk. The first copy that I got from Netflix wouldn't load, and the second copy froze about ten minutes before the end and refused to continue. This has been the first problem BD disk that I have encountered in two dozen or so. Too bad, since the technical quality of the disk is otherwise excellent.

Now to the film itself, which my wife and I enjoyed immensely. It is a brilliant dark comic excursion into the Book of Job's treatment of the problem of evil in the world, and the deeply unsatisfying answer that Job's complaint receives from the voice of God. It is also a biting commentary on the hollowness of so much of what passes as religious wisdom and moral uplift.

The film does many other things as well. Like "Fargo" and "O Brother Where Art Thou?" it richly conveys the texture of a time, a place, and an ethnic milieu. All three films resonated with my own experiences with each of the cultures that they portray.

It's interesting that the Coen Brothers disavow any connection between the opening Yiddish scene and the body of the film. It seemed to me that the poor physics professor is suffering the curse that the dybbuk laid upon his ancestors.
Larry Hardin is online now  
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