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Serious Man, A (2009) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 February 2010
Image"A Serious Man" is the latest from the Coen brothers.  While it may appeal to some people, I failed to find it more than mildly entertaining.  The film is based on the Jewish faith, and as a non-religious man myself, the use of faith as the basis for everything that happens becomes redundant.

"A Serious Man" takes place in a 1960s Jewish community.  Professor Larry Gopnik is watching his life unravel right before him.  Therein lies one of my major issues with the film.  The character of Larry does nothing but "watch."  There is no action taken.  There are numerous points in the film in which I sit there going, "Why didn't he do this?" or "That would never happen."

Larry is struggling from a son that is always pestering him to fix the dumb antenna on the roof (not a major issue if he would just deal with his son's behavior), a wife that is leaving him for another man, a brother that is squatting in his house, a teaching job that is being considered for tenure and has a kid trying to bribe him for a grade, and basically three rabbis that have no answers for him.

Ultimately, I believe this film is about how everything is God's plan and happens for a reason, though we may not know why at the time or ever.

The film is oddly structured to say the least.  The opening will leave you in confusion.  NOTE: the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 in the beginning is normal.  The opening takes place many generations in the past and seemingly has no bearing on the rest of the film.  In fact, I sat waiting for the intro to resurface, which it never does.  Then there is the matter of the ending.  It jumps to the credits unexpectedly, just as some interesting things happen in the film.  While it fits with the rest of the film, the majority of people are going to be left unsatisfied, confused or plain mad.  Of course, this is the nature of the Coen brothers' films.  The only real interesting storyline in the film involves the female neighbor of Larry and unfortunately, that storyline is left unfulfilled and useless when all is said and done.

"A Serious Man" comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC encode with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.  The video is quite pleasing.  The color palette is rich and warm.  Every hue is used in the film, from reds and orange to browns and greens.  The even contrast levels help to support the color balance, providing a nice depth to the image.  Black levels are strong and shadow delineation is revealing in all shots.  Details and textures are consistently strong throughout the film.  My only gripe with this transfer would have to be the blurred backgrounds, particularly when panning across a landscape.  Fine details disappear from establishing shots.  Note the edges and details of the background trees during the backyard pan shot.  Other than that, the film's transfer is a solid one.  For the first time in a while a transfer does not show a hint of edge enhancement.  Edges are natural and sharp.  Artifacting and source noise is absent from the transfer.  This is top notch folks.
The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio.  I can't fault the transfer, so much as the original sound design.  There isn't much going on in this track.  Nonetheless, it is a solidly competent track.  The audio is 99 percent front heavy.  In fact the rear channels are only engaged three to five times over the course of the film.  Dynamics are not widely expansive, but are suitable to the film.  The LFE channel makes itself known twice in the film.  Dialogue is solid and clear, anchored in the center channel.  I can get past the narrowness of the audio track, but the mix has been treated for the home theater and thus the brightness of the audio is too much.  The overall track is too brash, and there are several instances in which the music or sound effects reach a "screeching" annoyance.  Overall, this is a solid track for the original sound design.

Three seems to be the magical number lately, as that is again how many bonus features that are on this disc.  "Becoming Serious" explores the vision of the Coen brothers.  "Creating 1967" is a set design piece.  Lastly, "Hebrew and Yiddish for Goys" examines the languages of the film.  I am a bit disappointed that there is no commentary track.

"A Serious Man" is not going to appeal to everyone.  Still, I recommend giving it a try.  You might surprise yourself.

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