Yesterday evening, Susie and I went to a local theater to see the new Joel and Ethan Coen movie, A Serious Man. The movie raised in my mind an interesting question of critical theory: Can one consider a movie interesting, well-acted, thoughtfully written, well directed, and still hate it with a loathing so deep, so visceral, that one leaves the theater wanting to hunt down every last copy of the movie and burn them?
Generally speaking, I am a pretty easy customer to please. I love romantic films -- Sleepless in Seattle, Shakespeare in Love -- I dig spy films and shoot 'em ups, I can watch the Rock or the Governator, I will sit still for Pride and Prejudice as many times as it appears on my tv, I am a big fan of Juliette Binoche and Jean Reno, I recall The Seventh Seal with fondness, I even get a kick out of The Ten Commandments, although I have to confess that my sympathies lie more with Yul Brynner than with Charleton Heston.
But watching A Serious Man was like spending upwards of two hours listening to someone scrape his fingernails across a blackboard. I hated every character in the movie, save the protagonist, a poor shlub of a Mathematics professor to whom all manner of evils befall. The movie is said by some reviewers to be a loose retelling of the Book of Job. So I re-read Job this morning, outraged as I always am by its message, and that description of the movie is a real stretch.
I think I understand why I hated the movie so much, but that would demand a considerably longer post, so I will not attempt it unless there is a torrent of requests [measuring torrents as I do on this blog, which is to say two or three].
At least it took my mind off Afghanistan for a little while. That is something.