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Mister_Winston 1 point ago +1 / -0

The Seder scene is heavy and memorable. My only small complaint is that the man of faith concludes his argument by declaring he'd choose God over truth. People of faith wouldn't say this because, to them, truth originates from God. But I understand why Woody Allen wrote the line. He needed to cinch the conversation on a point about happiness. Overall I just appreciate the conversation occurring in a feature film at all.

Anyone who studies art learns early on that there are times they must separate the art from the artist. Otherwise half the greatest works in existence couldn't be appreciated. Artists are so often degenerates. My primary example is Caravaggio. He murdered a guy in a bar fight, but his paintings have influenced my own work.

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Shalomtoyou 1 point ago +1 / -0

An interesting tidbit about the Seder scene is except for the big actor, nobody else involved in that scene is a professional actor. But if you've been to seders... they all sound real. (Especially the line: "hurry up, I'm hungry. I heard that all the time).

Another very good film by the Cohen Brothers is "A Serious Man." My wife and I planned to watch 20 minutes of that before going for a run. We ended up spellbound the entire time.

It's sort of a modern (well, 1950s more like) rendition of the book of Job. The protagonist gets advice, in the middle of his nightmare of bad luck, from three different Rabbis, all of which fail to satisfy him. Interestingly enough, the three Rabbis are of all different ages: Young, middle aged, and elderly.

There's one memorable line to the middle aged Rabbi's advice which is: "G-d doesn't owe us answers. G-d doesn't owe us anything. The obligation is in the other direction."

I could find that scene for you too... let's see....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80Kq75MY4mo

I took a quick look at Caravaggio. Good art. But yeah, the personal and the art ... it's a function. A person can be deep, but that doesn't make them good. Is Bill Cosby worse than anyone else in Hollywood? Are there famous men who used women in Hollywood, even against their will? Is the ocean wet? I think Cosby got people mad because of the pound cake speech. That they couldn't tolerate.

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Mister_Winston 1 point ago +1 / -0

"G-d doesn't owe us answers. G-d doesn't owe us anything. The obligation is in the other direction." I like that.

A Serious Man caused me to rethink most of the Cohen's movies and appreciate them more. I remember sensing a Job theme in it. I'll have to watch it again soon. I don't think it's coincidental that it and No Country for Old Men are both movies that ask questions about morality then leave you with an ambiguous ending. They don't want to spell it out for you, they just want you to ponder on it.

The story on Cosby isn't finished. Hollywood chooses who to protect and who to sacrifice. We'll probably get the whole story when all the ugly secrets about that town are finally revealed.

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Shalomtoyou 1 point ago +1 / -0

I think the essence of a Serious Man has to do with the protagonist's one actual decision: Whether to accept the bribe and pass the student, or whether to pass on the bribe and face the consequences of the student's parents suing him for theft or slander.

The last thing you see him do is change the grade from an F to a C, and he immediately gets a call from his physician with a serious tone about his X-rays.

The story of Job is to settle a disagreement between G-d and Satan, as to whether morality is a byproduct of comfort, or if suffering will cause morality to go out the window.

It's a good question.

I've read accounts of Holocaust survivors... I think it was Primo Levi, but I'm not sure. He said the experience of suffering in the concentration camps made some men into saints and other men into monsters. And others who just floated in between.

I think Job passed the challenge. The protagonist in Serious Man didn't. But the entire movie, all the trials he suffered, was just to see if it would influence this one decision on the grade.

I didn't care much for Old Country for old Men. Maybe I just didn't get it. The creep was just too... I mean, I get how he worshipped chance. "Call the coin." The other guy's widow refuses to play along and reminds him he has agency.

The holiday of Purim.... Purim means "lots." Haman, being an enemy of the Jews and a descendant of the Amalekites, was of an antithetical mindset to G-d. Which is to say, he believed in randomness. Kind of like the modern Atheist mindset. "There is no morality, there is no order, the universe happened by chance, Evolution has no guiding principle -- it happened by chance, and we are no more remarkable than a fish that just evolved a different way."

So how did Haman pick the date for the destruction of the Jews? He used chance. He flipped a coin. Or rolled dice. But the term the Bible uses is that he cast lots.

Which is the same as the creep in No Country for Old Men.

I haven't really been able to derive much out of that movie beyond that.

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Mister_Winston 1 point ago +1 / -0

Thanks for educating me about Haman. After reading that, I think it may factor heavily into the character Chigurh (the creep). I'll have to read more on it.

I could write a lengthy essay about No Country. The Cohens left a lot of the work to the viewer to decode it.

The story is basically a clash of antithetical worlds -- one built on a Judeo/Christian tradition of morality, and one based on the amoral and animalistic valuation of power. The latter of course produces evil.

When Josh Brolin decides to take the case of money, he metaphorically opened a portal from the other world, and Chigurh is the demon that passed through it. Chigurh represents several concepts: Death, consequence, evil; but all that's important to remember is that he does not operate by the same logic or code as those who live in a good and moral world. He's an alien operating under an alien code. He doesn't understand us (i.e. the gas station scene), and we don't understand him.

In a way he reminds me of Javert from Les Miserables. Javert's moral code was so rigid that it could not compute a complex scenario with conflicting logic. Javert's solution was to end his own life. Chigurh's solution was to accept chance as an escape path from those incomputable situations. Flipping the coin prevents his rigid logic from short circuiting.

So it's not important to understand Chigurh's principles or code, but to know they are rigid and based on a worldview that's so amoral it's alien. The alien nature of this amorality is what disturbs Tommy Lee Jones so deeply. By contrast, Jones doesn't need a code, he has lived his whole life like the dream he describes to his wife; he follows the torch light his father held high for him, and he rides toward it through the darkness. He -- like most of us -- doesn't need rules, just values.

I guess you could say Chigurh is one of those humans who misused his intellect.

Brolin represents a capable man who survives just fine in his own world, and maybe is strong enough to stand a chance against some of the vicious forces from the other side, but he's out of his depth against the more hardened elements from that world. Woody Harrelson plainly tells him this. The point of Brolin's story is to inform the viewer that even the strong among us have no business flirting with that side. The only solution is to keep it out entirely.

The Cohen's approach themes of morality like no one else in recent history, and I think No Country is the most challenging to interpret yet conveys the most severe statements. It also helps that so many scenes are beautifully shot. I need to watch it again soon.