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?
“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.
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.
Does the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit” draw on ancient Indo-European myth?
Israeli musician Avi Avital has become the first mandolinist to be nominated for a Grammy award in the classical music category.
Four less admirable Israelis were caught trying to steal Judaica from a synagogue in Milan.
Jewcy talks to novelist Myla Goldberg.
At Tablet, Leil Leibovitz eulogizes Israeli comic actor Yosef Shiloach.
Adam Kirsch reviews a new biography of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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