Tag Archives: Fred Melamed

The Set of 400: #180 – My Favorite Freedonia Shout-Out

Today! Because what if there is no God and you only go around once and that’s it. Well, don’t you wanna be part of the experience?

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Directed by Woody Allen (x5)

Starring Mia Farrow (x4), Michael Caine (x3), Barbara Hershey, Woody Allen (x4), Diane Wiest (x2), Max Von Sydow (x2), Carrie Fisher (x3), Maureen O’Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan, Daniel Stern (x2), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lewis Black, Julie Kavner (x2), J.T. Walsh (x5), John Turturro (x2), Richard Jenkins (x3), Fred Melamed (x2), Joanna Gleason, Sam Waterston (x2), Tony Roberts (x2)

With one of the best casts ever assembled, Hannah and Her Sisters in a lot of ways is the perfect Woody Allen movie. He made better ones, and he made funnier ones, but this is the rare hybrid between family drama and neurotic comedy, neatly packaged together as one film. Really, there are two plots running alongside each other, knitted together by featuring the extended family of sisters Hannah (Farrow), Holly (Wiest), and Lee (Hershey). Being a Woody Allen film, the B plot is entirely him – as Hannah’s writer ex-husband Mickey, going through a mid-life crisis where he may be dying of a brain tumor (this is the funny half!). The A plot features Hannah’s current husband – Michael Caine’s Elliot – in his escalating disenchantment with their marriage and his lust for sister-in-law Lee. Even this breakdown isn’t entirely fair, as they split time on these stories pretty evenly, plus a good amount of time spent on Wiest’s hilarious Holly, but the Elliot/Lee/Hannah portion does occupy with the emotional center of things.

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The Set of 400: #367 – My Favorite Chalkboard Headbutt

Today! Because the rabbi didn’t look busy!

A Serious Man (2009)

Directed by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen

Starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed, Richard Kind, Sari Lennick, Aaron Wolff, Jessica McManus, George Wyner, Fyvush Finkel, Simon Helberg (x2), Adam Arkin, Michael Lerner, Amy Landecker

The quality of Coen brothers’ films may have gotten more than a little uneven as the years have gone on, but they’ve never been uninteresting. They’ll pop up a bunch over the next year – they squarely fit my earlier definition of directors whose films I will run out and see no matter what – but their first is this darkly comic family struggle that gave us the fantastic Michael Stuhlbarg as the long suffering Larry Gopnik. His marriage falls apart, his kid is a bit of a mess, and the rabbis are no practical assistance, while Larry continually melts down. It’s a tremendous performance in a largely enjoyable film, mostly ignored on its initial release.

It did manage a Best Picture nomination – they’d just expanded the number of nominees up to ten for the 2009 awards, and a small, mostly overlooked film like this was a main beneficiary – in a year I clearly like more than I thought. This is already the fourth ’09 film, joining #377’s I Love You, Man, #383’s Sherlock Holmes, and #387’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. At a quick glance, it looks like the next film doesn’t come until #329, so if you’ve only come here for 2009 movies, see you again on May 31st! Continue reading

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