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Peter saw his first movie when he was just a little boy, and has never gotten over that experience.

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Taking Woodstock in the top 10 LGBT films of 2009

Posted December 30, 2009

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Windy City Media named the ten best LGBT films of the 2009, and among them is Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock. Windy City Times' Richard Knight Jr. writes:

Taking Woodstock: Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain director Ang Lee returned to queer characters with this endearing, based on a true story set in the sleepy hamlet that made history the weekend of the Woodstock festival in 1969. Everyone comes out—sexually, emotionally, etc.—in this ultimate coming-out story, a tribute to the "peace and love" generation that should have done better in theatres.

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Tablet Takes the Gopniks Seriously

Posted December 29, 2009

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In  "A Serious Marriage," a new piece in the webzine Tablet, Liel Leibovitz reads the marriage at the center of the Coen brothers' comedy A Serious Man through the lens of the Torah. Taking on some critics who have reduced the Gopniks to stereotypes, Leibovitz sees Larry and his lovely wife Judith as refletions of Jewish prophecy, especially as laid out by the prophet Ezekiel. Despite their differences, Leibovitz argues that the pair represent opposing but necessary parts of Jewish heritage:

 

They need each other, those two. There may be more alluring partners out there, more illustrious and more tempting neighbors and friends. But if the Gopniks are to survive, they need both the seeker and the scammer, the greedy and the godly, the serious man and the sensual woman. The same is true of us Jews. It always has been.

To see other Jewish reactions to A Serious Man, see the FiF piece "The Jewish Serious Man."

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A Serious Man is the No. 3 "Top 10" film

Posted December 29, 2009

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Movie City News is keeping score. In their "Top Tens of 2009," MCN culls the top ten lists of scores of critics and professional organizations to get an overview of the year that was. While The Hurt Locker hangs on to the number one position, A Serious Man comes in at number 3, just behind Up In the Air. Another Focus Film, Coraline is currently number 17. Congrats.

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A Serious Man's Carter Burwell Gets Heard

Posted December 29, 2009

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David Schwartz, Chief Curator at the Museum of the Moving Image, conducted an fascinating interview with Carter Burwell, the Coen's go-to composer as well as the man behind many other film scores.The article is part of a series done by the Museum of Moving Image on "leading filmmakers and craftspeople." In the interview, Burwell gives a glimpse into his creative process working with the Coen Brothers as he describes the beginning sequence in the film.

Before the Coens had even cut more than a reel, they called me to say that they'd like me to start working on a piece of music that comes out of a story told entirely in Yiddish in some unspecified old world and leads right up to the opening bar of Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love." The idea was that during this transition from the shtetl to the Jefferson Airplane, you're traveling through the ear canal of this boy in Hebrew school. It's a dark and mysterious tunnel, and when you finally get to the end it turns out that it's the earpiece of his portable radio through which he's listening to Jefferson Airplane.

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The Carpetbagger Meets James Schamus

Posted December 22, 2009

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In "A Jewish Film for the Soul," a post on The New York Times Awards blog, The Carpetbagger spent some time at an award lunch for A Serious Man, and in the process got to talk to CEO James Schamus about films, awards, and Jewish films.  In trying to pin him down about whether Focus was reaching out to the Jewish segment of the film industry, Schamus replied:

 

 

“Let’s face facts, in a business that seems to have a few Jews working in it, like yours truly, we never make Jewish movies,” Mr. Schamus said. “And here’s probably the most Jewish movie ever made.” Yentl and Fiddler on the Roof are chopped liver by comparison, he continued. “Yes, those movies obviously had very Jewish characters, but this I think is one for the soul. It’s cultural, it’s emotional, but for Jews, it’s theological.”

To get a sense of how the Jewish community has resonded, see FilmInFocus "The Jewish Serious Man."

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The Coen Brothers, NPR and Religion

Posted December 21, 2009

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On Sunday’s Weekend Edition, Cathleen Falsani, the author of The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, talked about to find the theological center to the films of the dynamic directing duo. Of course, the touched on A Serious Man:

"People say their worlds are chaotic, but I see a definite rhythm to good and bad," Falsani says. "If you do something, there is an effect. When you make a choice and you make the wrong choice, you're going to get it in their world. And then sometimes, as in the case of A Serious Man, even if you don't make the wrong choice, you still might get it."

To hear the full interview, go to NPR. Also check out the exclusive piece, Ms. Falsani wrote for FilmInFocus, “Everybody Hurts: The Universal Appeal of the Coen Brothers.”

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The Carpetbagger meets Michael Stuhlbarg

Posted December 17, 2009

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After Michael Stuhlberg got nominated for a Golden Globe his performance in A Serious Man, the New York Times Awards blog “The Carpetbagger” contacted him to get his reaction. Still a bit bleary-eyed, Stuhlbarg recounts a humorous story about being brand new to this awards thing. You can read it here.

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A Serious Man, Coraline get Golden Globe nods

Posted December 15, 2009

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The nominations for the 67th Golden Globes were announced before the break of day (that being 5 am PST) in Los Angeles, CA. We’re happy to see two Focus Films popping up on the nominees. Michael Stuhlbarg was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy for A Serious Man and Coraline got a nod for Best Animated Feature Film. The Awards Ceremony will occur on January 17, 2010. Here is a complete list of all the nominations.

 

For an updated list of all Focus Feature nominations and awards for 2009, click here.

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Eternal Sunshine is NY Magazine's Movie of the Decade

Posted December 14, 2009

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In the recent New York Magazine, “The 00’s Issue,” the editors and writers attempt to sum up the last ten years. For film critic David Edelstein, the film that best spoke to the passions, perils and pleasures of our zero years was Michel Gondry’s surreal memory piece Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In Edelstein’s words:

The most marvelous, the most resonant, the best movie of the aughts isn’t overtly political, but writer Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry weave together so many 21st-century fears that this truly screwball romance has the kick of a Philip K. Dick paranoid fever dream.

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