A Serious Man



The Book of Job is one of the most perplexing parts of the canonical literature of Christianity and Judaism. It has inspired countless debates about what it means and whether Job ever existed in reality or was just meant to be the main character in a parable. Perhaps the most disconcerting thing about the account it is that the character of "God" is a singularly unpleasant entity. He allows the most pious believer on earth to be subjected to every manner of anguish in order to win an argument with the Satan. The Evil One asserts that Job is devout only because his life is good. In response, God gives the Prince of Darkness permission to destroy Job's possessions and family, and eventually to cause him great physical anguish as well. Job never questions God's will during his ordeals, but cries for an explanation for his suffering, since he has been righteous and can't see why he would be singled out for such hardships as he must bear.

When God finally appears to tie up the loose plot threads, He appears as a whirlwind, and the divine voice kvetches about how difficult it is to be the creator of the universe, how hard He works, and how much responsibility He has, how His kids don't even call on the Holy Days and blah, blah ... In essence, He chastises Job for thinking that God should explain himself to His creations, although He does finally reward Job for never doubting or cursing his creator throughout his travails. In other words, God is like a particularly petulant old grandfather who feels no need to explain his arbitrary actions to the young whippersnappers who claim to be his grandchildren, and therefore owe him their very existence.

A Serious Man is the Coen Brothers' seriocomic take on the Job story. Larry Gopnik (Jobnik? ... Little Job?) is a physics professor whose life suddenly seems to take a very sharp turn for the worse. His bills mount up. His tenure application is starting to seem doomed. He's being blackmailed by a student whose bribe he refused. His wife wants to leave him for his best friend. His deadbeat, half-sane brother has worn out his welcome on the couch and is courting various legal problems. His daughter is taking money from his wallet to save up for a nose job, and his son is a stoner who appears to be well on his way toward making a fool of himself at his own bar mitzvah. Through it all, Larry never doubts God, but he seeks answers. He's a Physics professor, after all, and he wants to know why the universe doesn't add up properly, why a righteous man seems condemned by heaven. Like the Biblical Job, he questions three wise men (rabbis, in Larry's case), who offer various degrees of non-advice ranging from oblique or irrelevant parables to total non-responsiveness. Larry remains patient, shows compassion for his troubled brother, and tries to wait out his bad run.

Larry's patience and virtue are finally rewarded. The Lord uses a car accident to smite the man who would steal Larry's wife. The wife gives off signals that some form of reconciliation is possible. Larry's son pulls it together at the bar mitzvah. Tenure looks like a certainty. Things are really starting to go his way.

And he blows it.

He decides to stray slightly from the virtuous path he has always taken and to accept a bribe from a student. Just as he finishes altering the grade book, the phone rings. It is his doctor, who has been studying X-rays. It is an urgent matter.

Meanwhile, across town, Larry's son is about to encounter a sudden, unexpected tornado. A whirlwind, get it?

Oh, that God. He just won't let anything slide.

I don't think I can tell you anything about the Coens that you don't already know. They are deeply cynical. They are literate, thoughtful, and philosophical. One of them graduated from Princeton, the other from NYU film school. They are superb craftsmen who make personal films. Because of those characteristics, they are critical darlings. For the very same reasons, they only occasionally resonate with movie audiences. Since they make the movies they want to make, there can be quite a few moviegoers who want to see some of their movies, but more often not. Their brilliant black comedy, the Big Lebowski, grossed less than twenty million dollars, even though it has created a true cult of worshippers. Two other cult favorites, Raising Arizona and Fargo, won some fans and even an Oscar for Fargo, but grossed in the low twenties. The brilliant gangster film, Miller's Crossing, which many rate equal to The Godfather, went virtually unnoticed at the box office. Another excellent film, The Man Who Wasn't There, grossed less than ten million, without even a cult to follow it! Their Best Picture winner, No Country For Old Men, was also their best grosser, but maxxed out at a modest $74m. They have filled the public consciousness with Marge Gunderson, the Dude and Anton Chigurh, and they have earned our respect, but not our love.

This film will not change that situation, because it is just as brilliant and even more aloof than usual. It must be their most personal film yet, given that it's about growing up Jewish in Minneapolis in the 60s, in a family where the dad is a professor, for heaven's sake, and it is deeply immersed in Jewish rituals and culture! It contains dialogue in both Yiddish and Hebrew. How many moviegoers do you think will want to immerse themselves into that environment to watch a black comedy based on the book of Job, especially one that is more philosophical than funny? I didn't see a lot of hands going up out there, even though my own hand was raised. A Serious Man was one of the Coen's biggest box office duds, and was essentially doomed from the start. It opened on six screens, never reached more than 260 theaters, and was unable to sell even ten million dollars worth of tickets, less than two years after the brothers were given the Best Picture Oscar. This limp performance came on the heels of their two highest-grossing films ($74m and $60m), and four consecutive films which had been widely distributed.



Sidebar: if you, like me, were into Jefferson Airplane, you are going to love the musical score for A Serious Man. This film incorporates strains from "Today," "Comin' Back to Me," "3/5 of a Mile in Ten Seconds," and "Somebody to Love." Those four songs are from the same album ("Surrealistic Pillow")! The first two are among my favorite songs, and bring a tear or two of memory. The last is a classic, of course, if somewhat overexposed through the years.


Now THIS is an impressive filmography:

  1. (8.30) - No Country for Old Men (2007)
  2. (8.30) - Fargo (1996)
  3. (8.20) - The Big Lebowski (1998)
  4. (8.10) - A Serious Man (2009)
  5. (8.00) - Miller's Crossing (1990)
  6. (7.80) - O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  7. (7.80) - Blood Simple. (1984)
  8. (7.70) - Barton Fink (1991)
  9. (7.70) - The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
  10. (7.50) - Raising Arizona (1987)
  11. (7.40) - The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
  12. (7.20) - Burn After Reading (2008)
  13. (6.40) - Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
  14. (6.20) - The Ladykillers (2004)

Their median is 7.75, if you are scoring at home. It takes 7.9 to make the Top 250 of all time! Interestingly, the Coens do not have a film in the all-time top 100, although they have three of the next 50.

Here's the box office data in reverse chronological order (last column is max # theaters):



There is full-frontal nudity in this one, although it's quite a distance from the camera. Larry climbs up to fix his TV antenna, and his rooftop perch gives him the opportunity to see over his neighbor's fence. He is dazed to see that his sexy female neighbor likes to sunbathe naked. And I mean that "dazed" part literally, as you'll see in the clip. The actress is Amy Landecker.

The intro to Jefferson's Airplane's "Comin' Back to Me" plays in the background, but I don't know if anyone but a big Airplane fan like me would even know that because the song is not that famous, and it gets cut off here before the vocal begins.

By the way, the quality of the clip is excellent.


  • * Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe).

  • * White asterisk: expanded format.

  • * Blue asterisk: not mine.

  • No asterisk: it probably sucks.


Catch the deluxe version of Other Crap in real time, with all the bells and whistles, here.







Satanic Panic


Today we have a "Babe in Bondage" day with Holly Llyne Sari all tied up, clad only in panties and being menaced by a snake in the horror flick 'Satanic Panic". Caps and a clip.



TV Land

The over to TV Land for Jennifer Aniston all leggy visiting with Chelsea Lately on her show.




"Silk Stalkings"

These caps are the last part of the fifth season. At the moment, there are no more seasons on DVD although I notice another company is starting to release the series on DVD. I'll have to come up with something else next time.

Episode 12 The Last Kiss Goodnight

Tyler Layton - pokies

Unknown - lovely bikinis

Episode 13 Dead Asleep

Katerina Panos - nice

Kristina Krofft - cleavage

Megan Gallivan - underwear

Sandra Reinhardt - underwear

Unknown - exotic dancers in bikinis

Episode 14 Sudden Death

Cheryl Richardson - bikini

Julie Caitlin Brown - cleavage

Lauren Hays - underwear

Trasy Broussard - underwear

Unknown - sexy strippers

Episode 15 Uncivil Wars

Cheryl Bartel - bikini

Jacqueline Collen - pokies

Wendy Rhoads - underwear

Unknown - bikini

Episode 16 Black and Blue

Jennifer Barker - underwear

Krista Allen - underwear

Mary Morissey - underwear

Episode 17 Exit Dying

Erin Gray - underwear

Janelle Paradee - nice

Lisa Stahl - underwear

Samantha Carpel - nice

Episode 18 Prey of the Fox

Cindy Katz - upskirt

Jennifer O'Dell - underwear

Julie St Claire - underwear

Unknown - bikini-clad women

Episode 19 Playing Doctor

Sara Aldich - underwear

Sara Mornell - nice

Shae Marks - underwear

Episode 20 Family Values

Laura Harring - bikini


Nicole Bilderback - leotard

Trish Ramish - underwear

Episode 21 Private Dancer

Amy Weber - bikini

Avalon Anders - cleavage

Tricia Lee Pascoe - underwear

Episode 22 Body Electric

Anastasia Sakelaris - nice

Debbe Dunning - underwear


The Bad Lieutenant


Dann's comments: Harvey Keitel may have delivered the performance of his career in this 1992 drama, even to the extent of doing full frontal nudity, potbelly and all, but there isn't one redeeming quality to the character he portrays. Bad Lieutenant is more than just a title, it is a dead-on description of the main character.

A homicide Lieutenant doesn't let his job get in the way of his enjoyment. He's a drunk, a druggie, a sex addict, crooked and on the take, abusive to people he comes in contact with, and a compulsive gambler into the mob for some heavy money. When a nun is brutally raped, he is more interested in seeing her naked in the hospital than in catching the doers.

There is nothing to like about this movie except for Keitel's performance, which is outstanding. The character he portrays, however, deserves to be put out of his misery.

Frankie Thorn Victoria Bastel



 Johnny's comments: "Dread is based on a Clive Barker short story from the same book as Midnight Meat Train, but this one is more shocking. I distinctly remember the forcing of a vegetarian to eat rancid meat, and it's in this film, every bit as disgusting as I remember. Basically, a mysterious man befriends a psych major and sells him on an idea from a thesis to investigate the limits of people's fear. But, the mysterious man wants to go further and actually watch people in these fearful situations. I really liked the film, but it suffers from being extended from a short story, but only slightly."

Erin Gavin


Zoe Stollery


Laura Donnelly (collages below)




Autumn Reeser in Smokin' Aces 2

Ione Skye in Mascara

Pussycat Doll Carmit Bachar in 2005: boob-slip


Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts: upshorts

Various from "Kendra" ...

... Kendra Wilkinson

... Amber Campisi

... Patrice Hollis

... Destiny Davis


Film Clips