This weekend was all about revisiting films I’ve already seen. Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man improved with a second viewing while the highly praised Sundance favorite An Education lost a little bit of its luster. It’s still good and Carey Mulligan’s place as the new star of the year is secure, but the film itself feels a little more mundane than it did at first.
My only real complaint against A Serious Man originally is that it felt like the Coens were simply reworking the territory of some of their previous films, particularly Barton Fink, Fargo and The Man Who Wasn’t There. After a second viewing, it’s still clear the Coens are revisiting earlier ideas, but they’re presenting them here in their most fully realized form yet. This is a funnier film than the more obviously comic Burn After Reading yet it also stings a little bit. Michael Stuhlbarg was even more impressive the second time around as the put upon lead and the whole supporting cast really shone. It takes a special actor to capture the peculiar rhythms of Coen dialogue and everyone here delivered.
I’m not going to say A Serious Man is the Coen’s best comedy, but it’s their richest and most mature.
Meanwhile, An Education has a lively script by Nick Hornby, terrific comic supporting performances from Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike and a sparkling, star making lead in Carey Mulligan. This is a genuine crowd pleaser, but some predictable melodrama and a too tidy ending lessens its impact. I don’t know. Maybe I’m responding to some of the hype with a bit of backlash. It’s still a very good film, but its repeat value seems limited.
Taking a quick glance at the box office charts, a sub-Land of the Lost Metacritic rating of 24 didn’t stop audiences from forking over $35 million for Couples Retreat. Is that enough to make a $70 million comedy worth the studio’s time? I don’t know. I don’t care
In more interesting news, last week’s box office wonder Paranormal Activity continues to win the per screen average race with $44,000 per ($7 million total box office) $49,000 per ($7.9 million total box office) even after expanding into 160 theaters from 27 and running a full complement of daily showings instead of just midnights.
Meanwhile, An Education debuted in 4 theaters averaging a solid $40,000 per ($162K total) and A Serious Man followed up its strong limited debut by expanding from 6 to 21 theaters and pulling in an additional $21,000 per ($447K total).
Filed under: Miscellaneous