In the Coen Brother’s movie “A Serious Man,” we see young Danny practicing for his bar mitzvah by listening to the cantor’s rendition of it on his record player. That scene was undoubtedly sentimental for Jewish men of a certain age who prepared for their bar mitzvah by keying up the phonograph in their parents’ living room.
Three suburban spiritual leaders strike out on big questions in new Coen Brothers satire.
At the center of Joel and Ethan Coen’s new film, “A Serious Man,” which opens on Friday, is a very weighty matter. A Jewish physics professor, Larry Gopnik, faces a string of woes — his wife leaves him for a colleague; he accidentally kills that colleague in a car crash; his brother shows up, homeless, looking for a place to stay; and so on. Why him? To answer the question, the Coen’s send Larry to three rabbis, each one promising the answer to his eternal question.
That quest for enlightenment is a bit what it’s like interviewing the Coens. A brigade of publicists courts you weeks in advance, each new e-mail enticing you for the next: the first one promises you the interview;
the second that the interview will be in person. In subsequent e-mails you learn the day, time, place, and finally receive one last note: arrive early, you have only 15 minutes.