A bunch of new movies are lobbying for your box office bucks this weekend, but as Peter Travers says in At the Movies, the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man is the cream of the crop. The story of a modern day Job set in 1960s Minnesota, the film stars Michael Stuhlbarg as a Jewish man whose spirituality is constantly challenged after a series of hilarious and stinging tests of faith. His wife leaves him, his son is a pothead, his tenure is in question, and when Stuhlbarg's Larry Gopnik seeks the advice of his local rabbis, they offer him only silence. The Coens are the angry God that punishes Gopnik, as it's their penchant to see how characters react in extreme situations. This film will alienate roughly 90 percent of the Coens' No Country For Old Men audiences, but it's a must-see for the other 10 percent.
For anyone seeking a guilty pleasure this weekend, Zombieland is the movie for you.
Woody Harrelson leads a quartet of survivors across a terrain of zombies, with the film's plot essentially the killing and more killing of the undead. There is, however, a 15-minute cameo by a member of Hollywood's elite that Travers calls a wowser" and worth the price of admission.
Also worth checking out are a pair of flawed but ultimately entertaining films: Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying, featuring the original Office star in a parallel universe where people can only tell the truth, and Drew Barrymore's overly cute Whip It!, starring Ellen Page as a roller derby girl.
Week after week, you all complain that Travers is maybe too eager to throw Hollywood's latest junk into the Scum Bucket. "Why not the indies," you ask, "There has to be some Scummy indies out there too!" Travers agrees, and this week he puts four such low budget clunkers into the Scum Bucket. To see which ones made the unfortunate cut, check out At the Movies above.