A Serious Man. A Seriously Good DVD
The Oscars are around the corner, and everyone has a lot of catching up to do. This week, start with A Serious Man, which just came out on DVD. The Coen brothers’ film—one of their darkest and finest—was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and is equally deserving of both. Though the film lacks the superstar wattage of previous Coen films, it is one of their most pensive and incisive to date. A Serious Man tells the story of Larry Gopnik, a nebbishy professor living in the late 1960s, whose life has fallen down around him. His life is leaving him, his brother is a deadbeat, his son is flunking Hebrew school, and his daughter is stealing his money to save up for a nose job. Faced with all of this, he turns to three rabbis to find out how he can become a good and serious man. The ending has a classic Coen twist—the kind of black humor that is worth spending a night in with.
Though most people associate collage with artists of the Cubist period, a charming new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art proves that Victorian ladies were making collages for fun long before the modernists ever came along. “Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage,” which runs through May 9, features 11 Victorian photocollage albums and 34 framed, loose album-pages of the 1860s and 1870 that were fashioned by upper-class Victorians. Photocollage was a way for these ladies to cut loose— carte de visite photographs (like trading cards for high society) were all the rage at the time, with socialites collecting pictures of each other for sport. The collages were a means to make each women’s collection more interesting, and the results are delightful—people’s heads replaced with those of animals, little trinkets attached to faces, and other whimsical arrangements make this one show not to miss. Read Paul Laster on the exhibition and view our gallery on Art Beast.
Ira Glass—The App
Ira Glass lovers of the world, unite! The NPR host and storytelling Svengali has been running his radio show, This American Life, since 1995, but back episodes have always been hard to find or get one’s hands on (and the new podcasts only live for a week or so). So we were delighted to discover that Glass and co. released a new iPhone application this week, which costs only $2.99 and allows for streaming of any episode from the last 15 years (you can also buy episodes for good for 99 cents). TAL is made for listening to on long drives and commutes, so this is a match we’ve anxiously been waiting for. A story with a happy ending.