While it was not part of the Joel and Ethan Coen: Raising Cain retrospective, the brothers’ newest film, A Serious Man, did screen at the Walker last weekend — as part of a cast-and-crew-only party, an event made it onto the front page of the Star Tribune (along with a rare interview of the directors, by Colin Covert).
Among the cast in attendance was Mike Krug, who also happens to be the brother of Ilene Krug-Mojsilov, the Walker’s Artlab coordinator. He wrote in with this account of an uncanny coincidence he experienced during the audition for extras:
“Authenticity — that’s what the StarTrib suggested the Coen Brothers were seeking for their new movie, A Serious Man. So on a midsummer Sunday afternoon I hurried to a warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis with my three brunette children near the end of the mass ‘open audition.’ We were seeking roles as late 1960’s, atmosphere-authenticating, Twin Cities Jews.
‘Great, you’re an entire brunette family!,’ one of the extras casting staff greeted my brood. The white walls of the warehouse interior were hung with a gallery of actors and actresses, some clearly casted, some in the consideration stage. After completing biographical paperwork, the staffer suggested we look at the wall of 1960’s period photographs across from the wardrobe area, where hung thousands of suits, tight shirts, skinny pants, bullet bras, and women’s jumpers and dresses, circa 1968.
I looked at the first 1960’s photograph and my heart quickened. I recognized members of my Temple of Aaron Synagogue from the ’60s. To my amazement, there, in a group photo of six Temple of Aaron Board Members, was my recently deceased father Murry, with his Brylcreemed, pompadour hairstyle, generous smile and black suit. ‘Oh my goodness,’ I said, not trying to hide my pride, ‘that’s my father.’
And there was my Rabbi, Bernard Raskas, standing proudly next to the Temple of Aaron Confirmation Class of 1968 — among whom was the Walker Art Center’s Art Lab Coordinator Ilene Krug. “You won’t believe it, but that’s my sister!” I said to no one in particular.
The Coen brothers and their staff had clearly done their due diligence, contacting synagogues, obtaining photographs from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Jewish Community, replicating St. Louis Park homes, and locating haute couture.
Each of the four of us was ultimately selected as extras for A Serious Man. For me, unknown to Ethan and Joel Coen, this film is an ode to my father. While standing in the synagogue scene, reciting Kaddish repeatedly during the many takes from a variety of camera angles, it was only natural to feel the loss that the scene aimed to capture.
Whether any of my family ends up in the movie or on the cutting room floor will not be known to me until full movie release this October. Regardless, for me, A Serious Man, captures a personal era.”
A Serious Man opens at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis on October 2. Hey Mike — write in and tell us if you made the cut!