No Country For Old Men (2007)

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No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby wpqx » Sat Nov 17, 2007 11:49 pm

A new Coen brothers film is usually a joyous occasion. What crazy characters have they concocted this time, who is in the new film, what's it about? Regardless of the questions and the expectations rarely do they give you what's expected. Coming after the rather disappointing and lackluster one-two punch of Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers I wondered if perhaps they were losing their magic. Roughly five minutes into No Country For Old Men all my faith was restored. For 122 bleak moments a desolate world criminals and would be assassins cross our paths and at least someone in American cinema was stating that a parred down film language was not just enthralling, but monumental in scope.

The plot unravels in its own small lethargic way. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across the aftermath of what appears to be a drug deal gone bad. Tracking the ultima hombre (last man standing) he finds a case with $2 million in it. We never find out who shot who in the beginning, or why, what happened to the truck full of heroin and what not. This is a film that doesn't spell everything out for us. It denies us a sense of closure and leaves out what seem like vital details for our understanding of the narrative. The mission here is ambiguity. The Coen's are not offering a cleverly wrapped up package. Rather than being given the vitals, we are left wondering motivations and what happens.

In Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) the Coen's have concocted a character on par with Frank Booth as the most evil man in film. His killer is methodical, determined, and seemingly invincible. A remorseless killer who slays for little reason. We don't even know how he's connected in the first place, but her serves as the extreme poll of evil. Bardem is absolutely chilling in his role and any scene he's in has a capacity to venture into pure unspeakable violence. His oxygen tank is similar to a butchers tool for killing livestock, and he seems to kill people with the same compassion.

The ending of the film has gotten some people a little flustered. Like everything else in the film we aren't given all the information, and some people have found a lack of closure. This seems almost perfect. Contrary to nearly every new film the Coen's have opted to have no music in their picture, and the only time we hear any music is when a band of mariachis are playing on the streets of Mexico. This is the first Coen film I've seen on the big screen and I am glad I did. The vast desert landscapes overload the screen and everything has an empty shell to it. This is something of a modern American masterpiece and more than enough justification for the Coen brothers being in my top 20.

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Nov 20, 2007 5:48 am

An "American masterpiece" on par with Fargo?

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby wpqx » Wed Nov 21, 2007 6:40 pm

I actually think its better than Fargo, certainly a little more ambiguous.

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:25 am

Coens' best work ostentates a keen perception of the notions of crime and punishment that reside at the core of the American fabric. This in and of itself requires an existential approach, not only on their part but on ours, too, which has unfortunately lead to various misunderstandings formulated by their dissenters. But that existentiality breeds the sort of ambiguity I think youre talking about, wpqx. The question is whether the film truly earns it or not, and Im unsure if I can answer that after a single viewing. (I havent read the titular McCarthy but Im well-aware that hes one of the great American novelists of the our time [I most recently admired The Road quite a bit].) Do the Coens provide enough to support their ideological framework? In any case, its a bold move, boy, to pretty much leave the film on the shoulders of an actor whose character is supposedly pared down from the source (the filmmakers owe him much one way or the other). Contrary to what many may still believe, the film isnt about a serial-killer (and, more remarkably, Zodiac wasnt about Zodiac), but it does feature one, who perhaps wasnt required to be as extravagant as he was, even though hes an embodiment rather than an actualization (based on where the film ends up). And this about-face which Coens pull, both in terms of approach and thematic weight, is what I want to see done again in order to glean its truthfulness. But theres no question in my mind that this is the best film theyve made since the Cannes award-winning The Man Who Wasnt There.

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby wpqx » Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:59 am

You may be selling it short just to be on the safe side. I'd consider their previous two features remarkable disappointments so this is certainly better. Of course I always believe a film should stand on its own and it makes no difference whether its based on a book or even a real event. Jokingly Blood Simple and Fargo were based on true stories which people were quick to find out was a lie. This film comments on it when Tommy Lee Jones is reading the paper and says "You can't make that stuff up".

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Nov 27, 2007 4:10 am

Like I said, I haven't made up my mind regarding this film; a second viewing is certainly in order. I'll attempt to accomplish that at a second-run theater because it's possible the film won't become available on DVD before I post my annual list.

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby hengcs » Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:33 am

I am also thinking of watching it a second time.

some thoughts after first watch

(i) it will definitely appeal more to critics ... it appeals in terms of style, and to some extent, shock/violence ... as for the story, shld i credit the author of the book or the director/scriptwriter? ... typically, critics would be able to draw out the many subtitles/analogies, etc ... BUT for mainstream audience, i cannot be too sure ... to some extent, i am rather inclined to say that "Atonement" may resonate with mainstream audience much better "emotionally" ... it is much easier to comprehend ...
PS: From a "literature" point of view, "No Country" may be better ...

(ii) is Javier really in a supporting role? ... it is no secret that he kind of stole the show ... but frankly, what i want to say is ... if an audience is not aware that Javier is in a supporting role, and is asked to state who is/are in the lead roles (not based on who acted better, but who they think the director has cast as the lead in the film) ... i do suspect that many would identify Javier ... my point is ... is Javier's nomination as a "supporting" role a strategic decision by whoever submitted him as a supporting actor?
PS: my doubt is in no way a question of his acting ability ... instead, i really thought he came across as the lead ... (cf. Mystic River ... there are 3 leads?!)

(iii) i am rather divided ... on one hand, the minimal soundtrack makes it realistic ... on the other hand, i thought the film might have chilled and thrilled even better with a well conceived sountrack ... as of now, it might be too silent at times ...

(iv) i am okay with the ending ... i am also okay with the "non resolution" and "non explanation" of many things ...

let me watch "there will be blood" and "juno" this weekend before i decide which i prefer ...
i have watched Atonement, Michael Clayton, No Country For Old Men.

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:24 am

Now available on DVD in the U.S. from Miramax. Extras include three making-of-featurettes.

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby R6dw6C » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:18 pm

While being in Munich last Weekend, I had the worthy opportunity to see the film on a big screen and in the original version (it's playing only dubbed in Nuremberg, can't imagine how they dubbed this one...).

Well, I'm heavily disappointed. I thought that the Coens might have "grown up" totally within the last five years or so but they still suffer from their old demons which always kept me from honestly liking their films.
NCFOM pretends to be dead serious and it affected me as a viewer very seriously. At least some time. At one point (approximately during the scene in which Brolin leaves his wife in the bus or the following scene with Bardem in the car), I thought that the point had come for me to trust in the film and the intentions of its creators. Yes, there was humour. But it was discreet and subtle. Yes, the whole thing looked like a mixture of abstracted / reflected traditional genre elements and -cliches. But it was still superior - for 20 minutes! Then, my whole personal Coen misery started again when Tommy Lee Jones started to look for Brolin and Bardem. The Mixture became stronger and stronger (like a bad perfume), the pleasant sedateness shrinked, the usual cynical humour became more and more penetrating and suddenly, they were there again: The narcisstic, "cool" and smirking big boys who can't stop giggling about their own cunning and sophistication. The Hammer fell and smashed everything and when Woody Harrelson's character appeared, I already though thought was lost. Some scenes after his death managed to keep my interest and reception awake but my conclusion isn't too nice: Another one of those postmodern and postironic (which means: tongue in cheek) genre / filmhistory gimmicks which is meant to be very clever but isn't much more than extravagant self-adulation. And, of course, an (successful) attempt to impress all the people out there: critics as well as the mainstream audiences and the cineastes.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed the film, really. The mise en scene was absolutely brilliant! Remarkable performances (as impressive as Bardem's performance is, I'm still of the opinion that Casey Affleck's achievement would've deserved the Oscar much more), great camera work, great editing, great sound design, etc., etc., etc. But no great script and no personal, human vision, no soul, only egocentric brains behind all the suaveness. The Screenplay Oscar for this script - that's a real bad joke, indeed. 7 out of 10, nevertheless. It was pure Excitement to watch.
Poor Paul Thomas Anderson, you should have what they got by now.

Re: No Country For Old Men (2007)

Postby wpqx » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:26 pm

I disagree in many ways, but this is coming from someone who's been a fan of just about every Coen Brothers film (Intolerable Cruelty and Ladykillers not so much)


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