The Arty Semite

Coen Brothers’ ‘Fargo’ Coming to TV

By Ezra Glinter

YouTube

It’s not the first time the Coen Brothers’ “Fargo,” has been adapted for the small screen. In 1997, a year after the movie was released, a pilot starring Edie Falco was shot, directed by Kathy Bates.

That project never got off the ground, but now it looks like “Fargo” will be a TV show after all.

Deadline Hollywood reports that TV network FX has given the green light for a limited series adaptation of the dark comedy which, unlike the 1997 effort, will be executive produced by Joel and Ethan Coen themselves. The show will be written by Noah Hawley of “Bones.”

Prepare for snowy, flat landscapes, Midwestern accents and — maybe — some more corpses in the woodchopper?

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Television, Noah Hawley, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Fargo, Coen Brothers

Out and About: Talmudists at Cannes; Busking Tryouts Hit New York

By Ezra Glinter

NYBC
  • “Beaufort” director Joseph Cedar has made a splash at Cannes with “Footnote,” a film about a competitive father-son pair of Talmudists.

  • The LABA fellows at the 14th street Y will culminate their year-long journey into eros with the LABA festival, starting tonight.

  • The National Yiddish Book Center is raising money to restore a collection of recorded Yiddish books.

  • New York City’s buskers just went through their annual auditions for permits to play in the subway. Let’s just hope that Xylopholks made the cut.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Woody Allen, Tamar Tal, Roger Ebert Lars von Trier, Out and About, Philip Roth, Man Booker International Prize, National Yiddish Book Center, Life in Stills, LABA, Joseph Cedar, Gianfranco Rosi, Elaine May, Ethan Coen, Footnote, DocAviv, El Sicario Room 164, Cannes International Film Festival, Beaufort, Beastie Boys, Xylopholks

Out and About: The Poetry of Ethan Coen; Woody Allen Comes Clean

By Ezra Glinter

  • Filmmaker Ethan Coen is set to publish his second poetry collection, titled “The Day the World Ends,” next near.

  • Shtetl Magazine reviews “The Joyful Child” by Montreal novelist Norman Ravvin.

  • NPR profiles mother-daughter klezmer duo Elaine Hoffman Watts and Susan Watts.

  • Woody Allen spills the beans on life in show business.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Pauline Kael, Out and About, Norman Ravvin, JTA, Ethan Coen, Woody Allen

Out and About: Israeli Judaica Thieves Nabbed; Rise of the Classical Mandolin

By Ezra Glinter

Grammy nominated mandolinist Avi Avital

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Zackary Sholem Berger, Tuviah Friedman, True Grit, Thomas Ades, Schneerson Library, Out and About, Other Israel Film Festival, New World Symphony, Moyshe Nadir, Milan, Michael Tilson Thomas, Maus, Judaica, Joel Coen, Grammy Awards, Frank Gehry, Ethan Coen, Emanuel Vardi, Eleven Eleven, Dvoyre Fogel, Coen Brothers, Avi Avital, Art Spiegelman, Angouleme International Comics Festival

Out and About: True Grit's Oscar Chances; Bullet-Stopping Books

By Ezra Glinter

  • Jewcy talks to novelist Myla Goldberg.

  • At Tablet, Leil Leibovitz eulogizes Israeli comic actor Yosef Shiloach.

Getty Images

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Witz, True Grit, Out and About, Oscars, Myla Goldberg, Leil Leibovitz, Khan Sharonim, Joshua Cohen, Joseph Brodsky, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Adam Kirsch, Yosef Shiloach

More Dude Than Duke in Coen Brothers' 'True Grit'

By John Semley

Paramount Pictures
Jeff Bridges as federal marshal Rueben J. ‘Rooster’ Cogburn in ‘True Grit.’

As with Henry Hathaway’s 1969 film, Joel and Ethan Coen’s remake of “True Grit” (which is really another, truer, adaptation of Charles Portis’s novel) follows a young girl in pursuit of her father’s killer. Played here by new recruit Hailee Steinfeld, the impossibly precocious Mattie Ross hires a surly, drunken, tough-as-nails federal marshal (Jeff Bridges) to help her track the horse thief (Josh Brolin) what gunned down her pappy. It’s a cut-and-dry revenge story, where good guys win and bad guys lose. It’s less a self-aware ode to the studio Western than an inheritor of its most simple and enduring charms. And it’s seductive. Deceptively so.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Wallace Beery, The Duke, True Grit, The Dude, The Big Lebowski, Roger Deakins, Reuben J. Rooster Cogburn, Raising Arizona, Peter Stormare, No Country for Old Men, Matt Damon, Nic Cage, Mattie Ross, M. Emmet Walsh, Josh Brolin, John Wayne, John Semley, Joel Coen, Jeff Lebowski, Jeff Bridges, Javier Bardem, Henry Hathaway, Hamlet, Hailee Steinfeld, Glen Campbell, Film, Fargo, Ethan Coen, Coen Brothers, Charles Portis, Casino Jack, Blood Simple, Barry Pepper, A Serious Man

Friday Film: 'Black Swan'

By John Semley

Fox Searchlight

Excepting the Coen brothers’ “True Grit” remake, or Disney’s blockbusting, multidimensional sequel to “Tron,” is there any film more anticipated this awards season than Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan”? Let’s rephrase that, for the sake of brevity. Is there any non-Jeff Bridges film more anticipated this awards’ season than “Black Swan”? Probably not.

Ever since the first trailer was released this summer, in advance of premieres in Venice and Toronto, “Black Swan” has been drumming up a whole mess of hype. And with good reason. In the wake of 2008’s near-unanimously praised “The Wrestler,” Aronofsky has carved out a space for himself as a filmmaker who can handle material with a more delicate touch than the whip-bang sensationalism of other of his films, such as “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Fountain.” But “Black Swan” is far from delicate, despite dealing with waifish dancers working at a New York City ballet company. Though it has at its core the pressures sport impresses upon already-fractured psyches, any connections to “The Wrestler” end there. With “Black Swan,” Aronofsky is back to whip-bang. And then some.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel, True Grit, Tron, Tonya Harding, The Wrestler, The Nutty Professor, The Fountain, The Fly, Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake, Salieri Complex, Requiem for a Dream, Nina Sayers, Natalie Portman, John Semley, Nancy Kerrigan, Miloš Forman, Lost Highway, Joel Coen, Film, Ethan Coen, Darren Aronofsky, David Cronenberg, Black Swan, Antonio Salieri, Amadeus

Making a Mess of Comedy

By Matthew Rovner

Wiki Commons

Comedy, explained Aristotle, has a vague history, because at first no one took it seriously. We cannot know for certain if Aristotle was deadpanning, but his observation would amuse Saul Austerlitz. According to Austerlitz, American film comedy has not been taken seriously, either. In fact, the author quips, it is American film’s “bastard stepchild.” With his latest book “Another Fine Mess: A History of American Film Comedy,” Austerlitz gives us a broad survey of the genre, hoping to spark debate.

There were few Jewish comedians in Aristotle’s day, but in American comedy, Austerlitz notes, Jews are “the only minority group overrepresented.” The title of his book is taken from a catch phrase by the gentile comic geniuses Laurel and Hardy, but on the cover of the book, it is Jewish comedians, The Marx Brothers, who are making a mess. For Austerlitz, the Marx Brothers are the embodiment of Jewish humor — “anarchic, absurdist, and ebullient” — existing in the face of a hostile or dismissive power structure.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Will Ferrell, W.C. Fields, The Producers, Stanley Kubrick, Saul Austerlitz, Richard Pryor, Preston Stuges, Peter Sellers, Mel Brooks, Matthew Rovner, Marx Brothers, Mae West, Leo McCarey, Laurel and Hardy, Judd Apatow, Joel Coen, Jerry Lewis, Film, HItler, Ethan Coen, Ernst Lubitsch, Dustin Hoffman Woody Allen Albert Brooks, Comedy, Dr. Strangelove, Coen Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Books, Billy Wilder, Ben Stiller, Aristotle, Another Fine Mess

A Funky Little Yiddish Princess

By Ezra Glinter

It’s hard to beat Yiddish Princess’s own self-description (as per their MySpace page):

“Melodramatic Popular Song”

“Kick Ass Yiddish Power Ballads”

“Influences: Kate Bush, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Mina Bern, Molly Picon, Pat Benatar, Suki & Ding”

“Sounds Like: Celine Dion (if she went to Kheder)”

Not all of this is strictly true — there’s really little resemblance to Celine Dion, for example, even if she had gone to kheder. But what’s important here is the impish sense of humor that underlies one of the weirder musical projects in recent memory, Jewish or otherwise.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sarah Mina Gordon, Pat Benatar, Music, Molly Picon, Mina Bern, Michael Winograd, Mark Warshawsky, Madonna, Kate Bush, Joel Coen, Galapagos, Ethan Coen, Dem Milner's Trern, Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper, Celine Dion, Brooklyn, Blondie, A Serious Man, Suki and Ding, Whitney Houston, Yiddish, Yiddish Music, Yiddish Princess

A Serious Party With the Coen Brothers

By Beth Kissileff

On March 22, I went to a “Serious Night” party at B’nai Emet synagogue, in St. Louis Park, MN where the bar mitzvah scenes as well as some others in the Coen brothers film “A Serious Man” were filmed.

Photo by Wilson Webb

One of the audience members recounted his query to one of the Coen brothers asking why the opening scene was in Yiddish and set in Eastern Europe. His reply, “We wanted to introduce audiences to the world of a Jewish movie.”

The problem is that the world of the Jewish movie is not in the distant past, it is in the here and now, among the young extras from the movie selling paper flowers and collecting donations to benefit victims of the Haitian earthquake, couples in their teens and twenties dancing to Israeli music, and the old folks, as at an actual bar mitzvah, looking at family pictures on display. In this case the photos were of the extras in costume, and photos from the film’s 1967 era courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: B'nai Emet Synagogue, A Serious Man, Beth Kissileff, Coen brothers, Ethan Coen, Film, Fred Melamed, Haiti, Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, Joel Coen, St. Louis Park, Woody Allen, Yiddish

Fred Melamed, The Most Serious Man of All

By Ezra Glinter

Wilson Webb
Fred Melamed (left) stars as Sy Ableman in the Coen Brothers ‘A Serious Man.’

Larry Gopnik, the main character in the Coen brothers most recent and most Jewish film, “A Serious Man,” has been widely understood as Job-like figure. But what would Job be without Satan to test him? (Besides having more children and fewer boils, that is.)

Enter Sy Ableman, Larry’s beardy nemesis, whose role as self-righteous cuckolder well nigh stole the show and earned actor Fred Melamed some long deserved recognition. Over the years Melamed has appeared in several Woody Allen films (most notably as the shrink in “Hannah and Her Sisters”) and has played countless deep-voiced bit parts, but few have been as diabolically funny as his role in “A Serious Man.”

In a recent interview with New York Magazine’s Bilge Ebiri, Melamed discusses his long acting career, Woody Allen, what it’s like to work with the Coens (they’re very nice folks), and Philip Roth’s mother. Also, his goal to “bring the pompous, Jewish, overweight, rabbinic figure back to the center of American sexuality.” Read the whole thing here.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Larry Gopnik, Job, Joel Coen, Hannah and Her Sisters, Fred Melamed, Film, Ethan Coen, Coen Brothers, A Serious Man, Philip Roth, Satan, Sy Ableman, Woody Allen




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