Friday, July 30, 2010

The Goy's Teeth

I was really entranced by A Serious Man when I first watched it earlier this year. I have been meaning to do a whole post on it and talk about how it tied in with Karen Armstrong's "The Case For God", which I happened to be reading at the time I saw the film, but that little essay will have to wait.

In the meantime, let me share the centerpiece of the film: The "Goy's Teeth" scene. It's as good as any scene the Coen brothers have ever done, and perhaps their finest. The choice of Hendrix as the background music, the writing and the performances of the actors are all spot on. Props especially go to character actor George Wyner, who has been doing supporting roles in Film and Television for forever, and when given such a prime role in a Coen Brothers movie just completely nails it.

(Only one YouTube user has posted the scene, but they have disabled embedding for whatever reason. Here's the link to it)

The proof, here, is in the last line. When I did the "100 Movies" clipshow, some of the best compliments I got were those that recognized and appreciated how I left the full pause in before the "These go to eleven" line in Spinal Tap. The pause is crucial in making the line work, and it's inclusion in the clipshow wouldn't have been nearly as effective if I just cut straight to the line. Similarly, the pause Wyner takes between the first two words and the last two in that last line, combined with the subtlest of facial expressions, should have netted the man some sort of award.

I laugh out loud every time I watch it, and my hat is off to Mr. Wyner for his stellar work.

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