on March 14, 2008
I can see why some people would have a problem with this movie. It is a violent, brooding movie with an ending that will have you saying, "That's it?". Plus, several scenes end without showing what happens to the characters, leaving the audience to guess what may or may not have occurred. I think it is important to remember that this is an adapted screenplay from a Cormac McCarthy novel. I read the book shortly after seeing this film and feel that the Coen brothers did a very good job. Except for excluding a couple of chapters, the film follows the book almost exactly. So, if you feel that this movie is entirely the Coen brother's fault you better think again. Some blame has to go to the source material.
Personally, I love movies like this. Movies where everything is not tied together nicely, where the good guy doesn't always succeed, and where the traditional rules of Hollywood are broken. If you expect a movie where the good guy vanquishes the bad guy in a gun-battling, car-chasing climax then you better rent something else. If you want a happy ending, you may want to watch the movie 'Enchanted' instead as another reviewer suggested. Nothing works out for any of the characters. This includes the main bad guy Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem. What should be a simple job of retrieving 2 million dollars of missing drug money from a local good ole' boy turns into a really big headache for him. He then goes on a murder spree just because he was so inconvenienced. That is what makes this character really scary. He'll do anything to finish the job, and he'll dish out triple the amount of pain bestowed upon him.
As for the ending, you must keep the title of the movie in mind. No Country For Old Men partly refers to the young drug runners who are often gunned down early in their careers. Few of them will ever see old age. It also refers to Tommy Lee Jones' character. He is an old man struggling to understand the viciousness of today's criminals. He finds himself unable to adapt, hence feeling that there is no place for him anymore in his own country (which happens to be Texas). His dialogues at the end of the movie further these points among other things.
This movie has great characters, wonderful settings, dramatic directing and a good adapted screenplay. If you enjoy movies that do not fit the standard Hollywood mold than you will like No Country For Old Men.
Violent, dark, gripping and an off-humor tone that is like no other. `NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN' is indeed a Coen Brothers masterpiece!
The film is possibly the most ambitious film from the Award winning filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen ("Fargo", "The Big Lebowski", "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", "Raising Arizona") based on the 2005 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four which include "Best Achievement in Directing", "Best Motion Picture of the Year", "Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role" and "Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published".
"NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" makes its re-appearance on Blu-ray with a new audio track, five hours of bonus footage and a digital copy.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" is featured in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of (2:35:1). One thing you will notice is how the colors of the rugged outdoors really pops. The earth tones and its vibrancy during the day, to the dark black and blues during the night. I saw no major artifacting or high grain during the low light conditions.
Also, when you see the characters in High Definition, you see the wrinkles, the pores...very detailed picture quality. Even the people who were shot and killed, good amount of detail in the bullet wounds and showcasing how much detail the crew went into making sure the these wounds look realistic. There is no denying that the picture quality for "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" is amazing and right up there with the top tier titles. The backgrounds of Southwest Texas, the multiple colors that showcase the vibrancy of the film, to the dark scenes that exhibit no problems and of course the overall details that you just never think of, are seen quite clearly on this title.
Director of Photography Roger Deakins ("A Beautiful Mind", "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", "The Big Lebowski", "Fargo", "The Shawshank Redemption") continues to be one of the top DP's in the industry and was definitey deserving of an Academy Award nomination for his awesome cinematography.
As for audio, this is where "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" takes a big step up to perfection. Buena Vista Home Entertainment made sure the new soundtrack for this second version release utilized an English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-bit) track over the PCM version. And boy, does it make a difference. If you thought the gun shots as the bullets hiss, the rifle shots, a dogs being shot, vehicles moving, those action scenes alone sound clearer and punchier than the previous PCM track. The dialogue is clear and there is just a sense of more clearer sound than the PCM track. Quite frankly, this is the best audio treatment of the film and the last one was magnificent but for this 2-Disc Collector's Edition, audio is excellent!
And again, the film was definitely deserving for its Academy Award nominations for its achievements in Sound and Sound Editing. The crew did a wonderful job!
This second version Blu-ray release of "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" is packed with special features. From December 2007 to February 2008, television, live, online and radio interviews are presented on disc. So, the hardcore filmmaker or the fans of the film definitely have plenty of content to watch and listen to. As mentioned earlier in the review, this 2-Disc Collector's Edition comes with a new audio track, a digital copy of the film and five hours of special features. Included are:
* The Making Of No Country For Old Men - (24:29) A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create a Coen Brothers' movie. Featuring interviews with the Coen Brothers, cast and crew. Included on the last Blu-ray but nevertheless, very informative and entertaining to watch. Also, how certain cast members were selected. Surprising especially when you find out that Kelly Macdonald (Carla Jean) is from Scotland and has a strong, thick accent but played the character of a girl with a Southern drawl quite well!
* Working with the Coens - (8:07) The cast and crew of No Country for Old Men talk about working with the legendary duo. It's great to hear the cast and crew talk about working with the brothers and talk about how they want a certain scene a certain way. Fun featurette that was included on the last Blu-ray.
* The Diary of A Country Sheriff - (6 min.) A look at the relationship between Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh and Josh Brolin's Llewelyn Moss through the eyes of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). A good explanation of how this proud Sheriff who is about to retire notices that he probably is in no league to take on the crimes of today and the types of killers out there. The days of being a sheriff with no weapons are a thing of the past.
* Josh Brolin Unauthorized - (9 min.) An interesting perspective of "behind-the-scenes" as Josh Brolin interviews certain cast members and the crew. A dramatic "behind-the-scenes" featuring the cast members with some sort of an edge. A very interesting featurette.
* Press Timeline - A treasure trove of in-depth interviews and conversations with the Coen Brothers, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem--never before available on disc--offering viewers the most comprehensive look ever at the making of No Country for Old Men. This is where the bulk of the special features are featured and what's so cool is that some of these are online interviews, live with audience interviews, radio interviews, etc.
1. Lunch with David Polan (10/25/07) - 26:21 interview with both Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem.
2. L.A. WGAW - (11/06/07) - 24:13 Q&A Panel featuring the Coen Brothers, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Kelly Macdonald.
3. Variety Q&A - (11/06/07) - 3:08 Feat. interviews hosted by Brian Lowry with Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Kelly Macdonald
4. ew.com - Just A Minute - (11/08/07) - 12:55 Feat. interview with Javier Bardem
5. Creative Screen Writing Magazine - (11/09/07) - 21:24 podcast interview with the Coen Brothers.
6. NPR's All Things Considered with Michelle Norris - (11/09/07) - 4:42 - Radio interview
7. ABC Popcorn with Peter Travers - (11/14/07) - 14:51 Interview with Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Kelly Macdonald
8. In-Store Appearance (11/20/07) - 40:30 Interviews with Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem
9. Charlie Rose (11/21/07) 22:33 interview with the Coen Brothers
10. WBC Reel Talk with Lyon & Bailes - (12/1/07) 10:00 - A fun interview with Josh Brolin
11. Channel 4 News - (12/16) - 3:45 Preview of the film and brief interviews
12. KCRW - The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell - (12/19) 28:29 Radio interview with the Coen Brothers
13. NPR's Day to Day (1/17) 6:35 Radio interview with Javier Bardem
14. Spike Jonze Q&A (1/27) 1:00:45 Live audience interview with Spike onze with the Coen Brothers, Director of Photography Roger Deakins, Sound Production and Design Production teams
15. NPR's All Things Considered (2/7) 7:44 Radio interview with Executive Producer Scott Rudin
16. NPR's Weekend Addition feat. Scott Simon (2/9) 5:32 Radio interview with the Coen Brothers
* Digital Copy Download
EASTER EGG: Not necessarily a major Easter Egg but on Press Time line, you can select the coin which has the words "Call It Friend O" and the coin will randomly pick an interview.
"NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" is definitely not a film for the weak hearted. The film has its many layers but I think that Javier Bardem's excellent portrayal of the psychopath Anton Chigurh is going to ruffle some feathers because of his overall look, his demeanor and his eyes of the thrill of a kill, you can't help but think how twisted this character is and for certain characters, who encounter Chigurh, you are at the edge of your seat as he wants to determine the fate if they live or die. It's twisted and his means of killing and the barrage of violence is not going to make the squeamish any happier.
This is possible the Coen Brothers darkest film. Granted "Fargo" was a dark film but "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" is well-written, well-acted, well-filmed...it's the Coen Brothers masterpiece extravaganza. Dark humor, violence galore but a well-told plot and characters that you want to watch.
For me, the violence was excessive but it was needed. It was very important to show Chigurh as this psychopath and the level of detail that went into showing those bloody scenes was well done by the crew.
As the Coen Brothers and Javier Bardem did a wonderful job, you also have to give the thumbs up to the other talent.
Josh Brolin being denied an Academy Award nomination was a bit of a shock. Where many people have not been fortunate to get away from Chigurh, the character of Llewelyn Moss was a constant challenge but you actually felt yourself rooting for Moss for a little while.
Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Bell was portrayed very well. A World War II Vet and proud Sheriff who is now having to deal with drug deals and mafia style killings, he's not prepared to take on these type of people. This is not the same country he lived in before, it's become dangerous and hence the title "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN".
I will have to say the shining star was Kelly MacDonald as Carla Jean. At first, you think that the woman is the token broad at the beginning of the film but her final scenes perhaps is a scene that has left many people wondering what happened to her character. It's because her character was able to do something that many of the other characters have not and thus, comes away being someone special. And I also have to say that I was shocked to find out that Macdonald was Scottish and had this thick accent and to hear hear playing a woman with this Southern drawl was amazing. Well done!
Many people who purchased the first Blu-ray disc may be asking themselves, is this second collector's edition worth it? Absolutely yes! The new DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is just amazing. Combine that with already the perfect video, video and audio are just perfect. The special features also gets a 5 with five hours of interview footage and in depth knowledge behind what the Coen Brothers wanted to accomplish in the film, to hear the talents (with the exception of Tommy Lee Jones) really show their passion towards this film and just very good insight of the making of the film.
So, as much as I hate re-releases especially if they are not long after the previous was released, in this case, I have to say that the release of "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" was warranted. For such an incredible and magnificent film, it deserved special treatment and now it does.
"NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN - 2-DISC COLLECTOR'S EDITION" receives an A+ and is highly recommended!
Cormac McCarthy's novel NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN has been successfully transformed into a film in the skilled hands of Ethan and Joel Coen. The story is intact, the characters are given the dialog so uniquely McCarthy's invention, and the horror of the message of the book - that we have come to a point in time when crime, especially random murder, surrounds our lives - is, if anything, even more pungent than on the pages of the book. It is an amazing, and a highly disturbing movie, and while this viewer is one of the few who does not believe it deserved the Oscar for Best Picture, there is little doubt that it is a brilliant piece of cinema.
The story is fairly simple: on the raw plains of Texas a slaughter of men and dogs engaged in a drug deal is discovered by a simple guy Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). Moss observes the mayhem, sees the drugs, finds the 2 million dollar payoff money, takes the money, and embarks on an escape, leaving his wife Carla (Kelly Macdonald) to escape the pursuit of a mad killer Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who in turn is being pursued by the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) and a hired hitman (Woody Harrelson). The satchel of money contains a tracking device and Chigurh has the instrument necessary to follow the trail the device leads. The remainder of the film is the pursuit both in Texas and in Mexico, accompanied by countless brutal murders of all sorts by the crazed Chigurh, until a surprise ending.
But the toughest part of this violent film is more in the discussion of shared philosophies between the sheriff and his old cronies: they reflect on the sad state of universal crime that is so different and more malevolent than in the 'old days'. The conversations, in the superb dialog of these old men, bring our attention to some realities we would rather not confront, and those realities are even more disturbing than the repeated images of bloated bodies and senseless murders that fill the screen. Jones, Brolin, and Bardem are indeed superb in their roles, but the small cameos of the townsfolk of Texas are little gems of acting and direction. This is a difficult film to watch because of all of the violence, but the message is one we must heed. We may be allowing the creation of 'no country for any men'. Grady Harp, March 08
on November 23, 2012
This is one of those movies that divides moviegoers. Love it. Hate it. Few fall in between. Some reject it because it fails to promote the promise of a righteousness path. Some embrace it as an affirmation of life's randomness. Whatever. The most objective thing I can say to those who have not yet seen it is that "No Country for Old Men" is not for those who seek the promise of a happy ending. Nor is it for those wishing to wallow in absolute darkness. It is perhaps best suited to those open to the possibility that life, no matter how we lead it, is incalculable.
As the protagonist, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, opines: "Even in the contest between man and steer, the outcome is uncertain."
The world of "No Country for Old Men" rewards no one code, or set of rules by which to live life. Good country people who work at Wal-Mart, pay their bills on time and take care of their mamas are, in the end, promised no better an outcome than are murderous psychopaths. Time and again, "No Country for Old Men" demonstrates this lack of a guarantee. Survival, success, fairness -- roll the dice as gently or as roughly as you want. It doesn't matter. The dice have no say.
Still, "No Country for Old Men" is filled with characters who live life by their own unique set of rules. In fact, the story's biggest proponent of such rules is the antagonist, Anton Chigurh, a vicious killer who repeatedly promotes the importance of honoring one's word and toeing a defined line. This, some might say, proves the cliché about a method in madness, but Chigurh, like even the most vicious real-life villains, does not believe he's mad. To him, his way is the only way. He preaches it like a man of God, telling one soon-to-be-dead victim: "If the rule you followed brought you to this, of what use was the rule?"
The sheriff also subscribes to a code, though he doesn't go so far as to define it as such. He makes no assumptions, follows the law, follows the evidence, and wastes no time posturing or putting on airs. Rather, he surveys a series of ever-more-violent acts occurring in the world around him and repeatedly concedes that he does not understand. This admission of ignorance is particularly admirable when contrasted with statements made by his counterpart, a hitman who's also in pursuit of the antagonist, Chigurh. Unlike the sheriff, the hitman believes he understands the nature of this particular evil: "He's a psychopathic killer, but so what? Plenty of them around." Divergent paths, but both intended to lead their followers to the same destination.
Then there's the driver of all action from the start of the story, the deuteragonist, Llewellyn Moss, an out-of-work war veteran whose view of the world is shared through the camera's lens. Before we see any part of Moss, we see what he sees through the scope of his rifle while he's sighting prey in the desert. We hear him fire a shot, then fume over his failure to achieve an instantaneous kill. We follow him as he follows the blood trail of his prey to its unexpected intersection with a second blood trail. This is the first turning point and Moss' choice to follow the second trail in reverse -- away from the limping, bleeding dog that created it, and toward wherever the injury occurred -- is the first in a series of choices that quickly transform Moss from hunter to the bleeding prey.
"No Country for Old Men" is brilliant storytelling, whether it be the book by Cormac McCarthy, or the Coen Brothers' adaptation for the screen. Momentum builds steadily from the start, in conflict after conflict, to the point of no return and beyond. The chase that ensues consumes Act II and moves us quickly along to the climax, as well as to an inspired denouement.
Few movies succeed on as many levels as "No Country for Old Men." In my opinion, it deserved every Oscar it received.
on December 8, 2007
In the stylish new Coen Brothers' movie, "No Country for Old Men," the violence is both graphic and coy, both in-your-face and strangely demur in the way it is portrayed. Bit players are frequently blown away in full view of the audience, while key characters often meet their ends off screen, away from the spotlight of the prying camera. For this is the theme of the movie, that violence is arbitrary, capricious and unpredictable, and that things are only going to get worse in a culture that has grown increasingly coarse and indifferent to human suffering over the years.
The "old man" of the title is Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a small town Texas sheriff who, right on the verge of retirement, has seen a depressing spike in violent crime thanks to the recent proliferation of drug-running from Mexico (the movie takes place in 1980). For this is a "new time" in America, one in which an all-out criminal "war" is being fought, as much on the open plains as in the crowded cities. It is the "old men" like Bell, the last in a long line of old style Texas lawmen, who can no longer recognize their country and who are left to recede into the background bewildered and frustrated by their inability to do anything about it.
As the story opens, a group of men lie dead in a windswept field, victims of a drug deal gone terribly awry. The perpetrator is a psychopath by the name of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is now wandering the countryside on a random killing spree, dispatching human victims as casually as the rest of us would a mosquito or fly. Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a "retired" welder who stumbles upon not only the carnage-strewn scene but a suitcase filled with millions of dollars in unmarked bills. When Moss makes the fatal mistake of taking the loot, he becomes the prime target of Chigurh, who will stop at nothing to get what is rightfully his.
Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, "No Country For Old Men" is less notable for its story and characters than for its cinematic naturalism and impressionistic style. Despite having made some truly exceptional films in the past, Joel and Ethan Coen have never been as thoroughly in control of their medium or as supremely confident in their filmmaking as they are here. The first hour, in particular, is such a flawless masterpiece of composition and tone that it will probably be studied as a model in film school courses for years to come. Not since the films of Terrance Malick has landscape been used to more brilliant effect than in the opening section of this work. The setting - so brilliantly captured in Roger Deakins' incisive cinematography and Craig Berkey`s stunning sound design - becomes a palpable presence in its own right and a key player in the drama. The Coens have done their own editing on the film, which explains why the pacing feels like an exquisitely honed piece of music, built on finely calibrated beats and rests, meter and rhythm. The hypnotic, dreamlike quality of the filmmaking carries the story into the realm of archetype and myth which matches perfectly the surrealistic nature of the piece.
Bardem provides a bone-chilling portrait of a human killing-machine whose sole purpose in life is to destroy that which gets in his way (not that he doesn't enjoy killing just for the sheer pleasure of it as well). In Bardem's hands, Chigurh becomes the true incarnation of evil in its darkest form. Jones brings a world-weary gravity to the role of the sheriff, while Brolin, who gets the majority of the screen time in the film, does some of the best work of his career as the man desperate to keep one step ahead of his pursuer.
Perhaps predictably, the movie is not able to sustain the same level of greatness all the way through its running time and there are moments when the filmmakers seem to lose their way somewhat (particularly when Woody Harrelson shows up as a comic-relief bounty hunter). The unresolved ending may frustrate those who don't like any loose ends hanging around at the end of a story, but the inconclusiveness of the conclusion actually adds to the verisimilitude of the movie quite a bit.
Still, even if the movie falters a bit towards the end, there's no denying that "No Country For Old Men" is one of the outstanding films of recent times. In fact, that first hour or so is about as close to perfection as filmmaking is ever likely to get.
on November 17, 2012
No Country for Old Men is as exceptional a mix of two creative talents- the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen, and author Cormac McCarthy (recent winner of the Pulitzer for The Road, his own masterpiece) as one could imagine, as they converge on a story that in lessor hands would be just a B movie. The story concerns an average Joe out hunting one day in Texas who comes across a bunch of dead bodies, heroin, and a satchel with 2 million in cash. He takes it, but without knowing that a true embodiment of a psychopath (Javier Bardem) is on his trail, and as he evades him it becomes more and more clear the fatalism that lies in store, as a weathered sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) is also on the trail with perpetulally sad eyes looking on from his stolid demeanor.
More than this, it's also about as good a morality play as one could ask for, because it plays and tools and makes very serious questions about what is moral, or what isn't, or what is so ambiguous that it's all up to the toss of a coin or a chance ride out of town. There are a few interpretations to Bardem's character Anton that could be taken, but one thing is certain- he's less a symbol than a real presence, a "ghost" as Jones's sheriff calls him that can come around at the drop of a pin, usually in the dark, and strike the utmost fear (or confusion if you're a clerk) in the hearts of men and women. You'll never look at a coin toss the same way again. Or an air-gun. Or fixing a bullet wound in a leg. Or a hunt at a motel. Or even the aftermath of a car crash.
But at the same time it's the purest time of cinema, recalling Hitchcock and Leone and Welles's Touch of Evil and the best of noir and westerns. There are so many exceptional shots and lighting, so much depth to the perception of the characters through the mis-en-scene, so much tension, that through this it's all up to the actors to make or break the near-perfection that is the McCarthy source. Bardem embodies Anton like no other could- you can't look at his eyes, often steel-cold and horrifically professional (to what professional who can say), which occasional tear- and it's obviously worthy of an Oscar. And Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones are also fantastic; we see Brolin often in the midst of an action scene, a moment of 'save-your-life' going on, and one can finally see an actor of his caliber completely breaking out in a role that doesn't require him to ever totally "emote". Jones, on the other hand, gives a compassionate turn in a film that's about the struggles of desperate men in a land without law and order. He's gone through so much that it comes out completely in his voice and eyes, sorrowful but holding back, and he reaches a level of connection with the character that makes the Fugitive look like simpleton TV. Kelly McDonald, who plays Lleland's wife, is also excellent when called upon, especially in a crucial scene later in the film.
It's gut-wrenching, bleak, violent, super-tense (I clenched many a knuckle during some scenes), surprisingly funny in a darkly comic manner not seen by the Coens in many years, and artistically fashioned to a beat that is meditative (watch the opening moments with Jones's voice-over), simple, and doomed. It's beautiful and terribly tragic, for McCarthy fans it finally strikes at what is truest to his material- even if you haven't read the book itself the Road will give an indication of the mood and atmosphere at hand- and at the moment I can't think of any other film that would be the best pick of the year- maybe one of the best films I've ever seen.
I really loved this film, and for the content itself I give five stars. Lots of people complain about the quality of the film, specifically that they believe it to be uneven, but that is what the Coens usually do. You think you are going in one direction and then they venture off cinematically into a place you would have never guessed you were going. As for the extra features, most of them appear to be public domain stuff, certainly not material made to give more insight into the film.
ABC "Popcorn" Video
Channel 4 News -- Joel And Ethan Coen Appearance
Lunch With David Poland -- IKLIPZ -- Javier Bardem And Josh Brolin Interview
WNBC Reel Talk With Lyons & Bailes -- Josh Brolin
LA WGAW Q & A Panel
Six Additional Audio Interviews
Josh Brolin's Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes
Q & A With Joel And Ethan Coen, Roger Deakins And The Sound And Production Design Crews
Charlie Rose Featuring Joel And Ethan Coen, Josh Brolin And Javier Bardem
EW.com "Just A Minute...With Javier Bardem"
VARIETY Screening Series Q & A
Instore Appearance With Javier Bardem And Josh Brolin
A collector's edition and still no commentary track. The third disc is the digital copy. Nearly all of the extras are publicity videos that aired on TV during Oscar season last year. You have to realize that the Coens just don't do commentary, and seeing that they are two of the most interesting filmmakers of the last twenty years, that is a shame. I'd say pass on this one if you already have the previous edition.
Somewhere right around the 90 minute mark of No Country for Old Men, the movie went from classic to great, but by the end of the movie it goes from great to good. That--in my book--is a collapse.
It's almost like the Coen brothers found something better to do after making 3/4 of the film then rushed through the last 30 minutes. Anyone seeing the movie will know the exact moment that I'm referring to; it's the scene where Josh Brolin gets into a brief flirtatious conversation with a woman at a motel pool.
The movie is absolutely brilliant up until the aforementioned point. You have a hunter (Brolin) that becomes hunted after stumbling upon a lot of money from what is apparently a very big drug deal gone wrong. The owners of the money hire a ruthless killer (Javier Bardem) to track down the hunter, and a local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to put it all together.
During the first 90 minutes you'll be on the edge of your seat while detail after detail is played out in a cat and mouse thriller that gives the perspective of the hunter and the hunted. You'll be thoroughly entertained. You'll be shocked. You'll be engrossed. Then comes the pool scene which is the start of the antithesis of all of the adjectives that I just used.
The last 30 minutes seem forced together...rushed. It's not that the movie ends too abruptly; it's that the detail that was included in the first 90 minutes goes out the window. The movie just gets odd.
So I'm very surprised at all of the unwavering praise, acclaim and awards that have been thrown at No Country for Old Men. A brilliant 3/4 plus a strange, "wait-what-just-happened-there?" finale = good movie. Not great. Certainly not classic. Just good.
on March 15, 2008
No Country for Old Men (2007) - Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
What a strange movie this is! There are so many interesting elements lurking within it that I find it difficult to figure out where to even begin talking about it. Well, essentially, the film is a study on the nature of evil. Pure evil. I'm almost talking about a psychologically unexplainable kind of evil, which Javier Bardem does an absolutely amazing job portraying. I am an extremely optimistic person and tend to not believe in this sort of pure evil, but works of art such as this tend to make you question yourself a lot. In other words, this movie will definitely get you thinking.
The plot itself seems to not even really matter too much; what matters more are the specific moments of the film. And man, there are a lot of great moments, which I won't even mention here because I want you to experience them for yourself. Another thrilling aspect of the movie is just the overall filmmaking itself. The Coen brothers made so many great choices throughout the entire film that its hard for any real fan of movies to not be amazed. Let's just say that their are a lot of Hitchcockian techniques that are implemented wonderfully.
So overall, although I have really explained nothing in this review (but other great reviewers have done enough of that already), I totally recommend watching this movie.
on September 6, 2008
People have criticized the random violence and "empty" ending of this film. I am no fan of gratuitous violence or inconclusive messages, so it surprised me that I loved this movie so much. After reading many reviews and comments on Amazon, I agreed with some of the negative points people made about the film. But they didn't change my mind.
This is because No Country for Old Men succeeds in embodying fear. Bad-guy Anton is the most frightening figure since Hannibal Lecter. Why? Because he is intelligent and on a soul-less mission to kill. Again: this alone does not make a film good - not by a long shot. Yet as opposed to other figures in murderous-rampage cinema (take Natural Born Killers, which claims to have a "message"), this character's made to look plain and ugly, and is no shining beacon of Hollywood that we secretly sympathize with because we know him from other, gentler roles. At least for the American movie scene, Bardem comes out of nowhere, and that helps make his character alien and unlikeable, and us feel uncomfortable and disturbed in his on-screen presence.
Anton and his mission, seen in the context of the film - the dawn of the drug war - brings me back to the character embodying fear. How many drug-related deaths have we seen in the States in the last decades? How many innocent people have lost their lives, or survived, by pure (or bad) luck, like the toss of a coin? Anton embodies (the fear of) this randomness. It's ugly and scary, it comes and disappears, worst of all never answering the question "why". That, to me, is the crowning achievement of the story. Putting that on the big screen is indeed amazing and is, among other reasons, why I am so floored by the film.
If you decide to see No Country for Old Men, don't do it because of the hype about the Coen brothers, the awards, or my commentary. This film means something different to everyone, and you may say it's just a waste of time. Or you may end up agreeing with me that it's a masterpiece. I'll go flip a coin now and see what you decide.