Posted by: kfugrip | November 19, 2007

One hundred eleven: No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men, written and directed by the Coen Brothers, was one of the movies I had most been looking forward to seeing (along with There Will Be Blood) this fall/winter.  Cormac McCarthy and the Coen Brothers… sounds fantastic.  I missed the last Coen Brothers’ movie, Ladykillers (though I saw the original) and heard it was terrible.  I thought that maybe the Coens were losing their touch.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

No Country for Old Men is about three characters:  Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) and Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones).  Moss finds a bag of money from the aftermath of a drug deal he happens upon.  This same bag of money is being pursued by Anton Chigurh, an “ultimate badass” who operates by an antiquated sense of morality despite being a ruthless killer.  Ed Tom Bell is the sheriff of the town, watching the world pass him by, who gets caught up in Chigurh’s pursuit of Moss.  Much violence ensues.

What I liked:   The style with which the film was made, deliberate pace, sparse dialog, were the highlights of the picture.  Long passages with little or no characters speaking, and the details of specific events, like the unscrewing of a ventilation duct with a dime, or dressing a wound, combined with beautiful vistas blended with great effect.  The story itself begins with a typical genre device: a man finds a bag of money, however the genre is subverted.

Like with most films I enjoy, the performances are strong, with Tommy Lee Jones being a highlight.  Even bit players, like Woody Harrelson or Kelly MacDonald, feel like fully realized characters given their brief appearances.

For a genre movie, a crime picture in particular, this is near perfect.  Hearkening back to their beginnings on Blood Simple (a film I don’t like so much) in the inventive and realistically depicted violence.

What I didn’t like:  The fact that this film is called No Country for Old Men, is a tip-off to who the main character is supposed to be, but the film is more about Moss and Chigurh for the majority of it’s running time.  It is only at the end that we come to find the film is intended to be more about Bell than the others.  It’s a minor complaint.  I loved this film.

5 stars

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Responses

  1. I enjoyed No Country for Old Men very much. Was wierd though, the reaction to the movie was really mixed in the theatre I was at. I knew I just saw something good, and felt like a smug SOB for it, but it almost felt like the people in the theatre didnt want to think about what they had just seen, so they had almost a negative reaction to it.

    There were so many great things about this movie, but I felt it missed a real knock out punch to seal it as a classic. So shut the fuck up Donny.

  2. this is why you should move to NYC Mike…I think everyone in our theater was pretty blown away…as they should be, as they should be.

  3. Yeah, when I saw it there were incredulous moans and groans from the philistines in the audience. The lack of a “knock out punch” is very much part of the design of the film, and is what makes it rise above your typical genre fare.

  4. Josh, that’s what you get for watching movies on Long Island.

  5. what on earth were people moaning and groaning about? honestly, i must be so out of touch with the general population it was a completely badass movie…and if one didn’t want to see a “completely badass movie” which it was so obviously billed as…why were they there in the first place?

    i’m so confused.

  6. I think youre looking for “ultimate badass” movie. And thats sort of my point. I think the Cohens tried throwing a knock out punch/making a line super memorable/giving us something everyone everywhere gets the meaning of, even if they havent seen the movie type of moment. Ala, You Talking To Me, How Am I Funny To You, Run Forrest Run, or Frankly, My Dear I Dont Give a Damn, hell even Nobody Fucks with DeJesus.

    Im looking at the gas station scene in particular. Maybe that line is in there. Maybe its not.

    I think people groaned because this wasnt immediatly accessible. Like Blair Witch, only better.

    ANNND maybe the ‘slaughter house air gun’ (my new band name) is symbolic of what the Cohens feel about people who dont get this movie. Sheep led to Slaughter.

  7. Mike, are you high?

  8. i have to second what Adam was said…and then add that as previously stated i must just be woefully out of touch with the average American, because even after reading your post, i still don’t understand what they “didn’t get” or “groaned at” or whatever…i’m completely lost.

    *sigh*

    it’s sad to realize you can’t ever leave manhattan again.

  9. My audience got groans as well. This shouldn’t shock anyone as I saw it in good ol’ Salt Lake City.

    I loved it, but understood what the groans were about. The nearly packed theater wanted what my mom always wants out of movies….(say it with me Kel) closure. I think that the ending lends plenty of closure, but not the kind they wanted to see, and frankly I was fairly surprised that they decided to leave it where they did. Having not yet read the book, I didn’t know where the ending was going.

    Killer monologue from Tommy Lee at the end though…my jaw was dropping. Also the gas station scene and stale coffee scene were definite highlights.

  10. this is so depressing.

  11. I don’t know what closure these people are missing. Some people die, the others live… what’s the problem? Where’s the open ending? Is it whether or not Llewelyn’s wife was killed by Anton Chigurh? Someone clue me in on what people are missing.

    Is the answer that people (in the most general sense of the word) can’t handle subtlety?

    I’m not trying to dig your choice of words either Scott, because I think your observation is sound. I’m glad you liked it Scott. Now go and watch The Firm (Alan Clarke).

  12. Im inclined to agree with you Adam, people cant handle subtlety. Or dont care to handle it. Especially depressing subtlety.

    Subtlety always makes me think of Tetly Iced Tea. Which like subtlety, is delicious.

    Wait this isnt my blog. Sorry.

    Has anyone ever been out blogged by someone posting on their site? Fucking vultures.

  13. after discussing this with Adam last night i tend to agree with all of you guys…Scott is right that the average person has difficulty with things not achieving total closure in hollywood…i assume that is why we even have something called “hollywood endings”…Llewelyn’s wife being dead for sure was a subtle thing that even i (who do not crave closure in films – and consider myself pretty observant) wasn’t sure of until Adam reminded me of something that happened. also, there is little closure with Brolin’s character in that we spend so much time with him and then do not actually see his final climax scenes etc.

    But even if these are people’s problems with the film…lack of closure, lack of understanding due to too much subtle film making, etc…i still don’t understand groans! it was a brilliant film…totally engrossing…how was there time for groaning!? the people who were groaning shoud have been paying more attention…perhaps then they would have seen some of the closure and subtlety that we think they were searching for.

    again i say, super depressing.


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