Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Straight Talk / A Serious Man

My first visit to the redesigned Chapter Arts centre, with its new airport-lounge style café-bar area, was to see the latest “On The Edge” production – a reading of Straight Talk, Dan Anthony’s clever, verbose (one might even say Stoppardian) comedy about a by-the-book copper and a mysterious, philosophical informant, and their meetings in a park. Pacily directed by Simon West, it was lifted still more by Jams Thomas’ comic timing; John Norton was also impressive as the informant, although his American accent was a tad distracting.

A Serious Man is yet another work of near-genius from Joel and Ethan Coen. About the collapsing life of a Jewish physics professor in 1960s Minneapolis, it restates, with their trademark deadpan meticulousness, their long-standing theme of mostly bad stuff happening with no rhyme or reason. Little-known Michael Stuhlbarg is excellent in the leading role, but the cast is littered with “I know the face but not the name” types from U.S. television comedy (Richard Kind, Simon Helberg, Adam Arkin, George Wyner), driving home the suggestion that the deity is laughing at us. There may be a political subtext, about the perils of passivity in the face of Evil; or it may just be that the filmmakers are revelling in the cruel beauty inherent to an irrational universe. Whatever, it’s great fun.


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