Monday, December 3

Get off yer ass and go see this movie, friend-o

I am in complete agreement with FearlessVK that No Country For Old Men is an amazing film — definitely the best of the year and possibly one of the best I've ever seen. It is the Coen brothers a their finest (their best movie yet?), returning to their noir crime drama roots, spinning a tale set in the real world that is so real yet somehow not of this world.

::: Spoilers ahead :::

This film is probably going to earn a spot on many film professors' rosters as a way to teach tight editing, clever screenwriting, gorgeous set design, impeccable sound engineering, and good old-fashioned suspense-building.

I mean, can we talk for a minute about the first coin-toss scene, with the old man at the gas station? The cuts, the old man's complete yet subtle terror, the sadistic looks on Chigurh's face and the rude retorts he spits at the old man, the knowledge that at any moment something horrifying could go whizzing through the old man's skull, the cashews, and so forth. And yet? Ahhhh. I was absolutely all over my chair, my face alternating between being uncovered and being buried in my hands.

Same goes for the scene in the hotel, when Llewelyn finds the bug and is removing it from the case, when he realizes Chigurh is right outside his door. You hear the beeping of the receiver, the footsteps, you see the shadows, everything gets quiet, you can hear your own breathing, and then there it is, a stroke of brilliance: The faint squeak of the hallway light bulb being removed. It goes dark. And fuck it all, you know the damn lock is going to go flying through the air, directly at Llewelyn, and you know that he doesn't know that, so when it happens, even though you knew it was coming, it's exhilarating and you just kind of have to let the showdown — which you knew was coming — wash over you. And it does. And it's so badass I can hardly stand it.

Fearless mentions the discussion of Chigurh's odd haircut in the film. It's some kind of pageboy/Prince Valiant kind of cut (see figure 1) that just seems so random and weird but actually, in the context of the film (and book, presumably; I've not read it), makes perfect sense. We know nothing about Chigurh — where he comes from, how to pronounce his name properly ("sugar?!"), what's his motivation, how he learned to remove bullets and shrapnel and sew up his own wounds, etc. — so why the hell would we know why he has a silly haircut? Besides, it's 1980 and he has a funny accent and is a fucking evil sociopath. He might as well have a funny haircut.

My little mini-review here would not be complete if I neglected to mention Tommy Lee Jones. It would have been so, so easy for his wise, colloquial, country-fried sheriff to be corny and hokey and eye-rollingly lame. But Jones, supported by the intricate network of lines and grooves real life has carved into his face, is so unbelievably convincing as the time-worn sheriff, whose personality teems with dry humor and a sense of belated resignation as he realizes that the world he knows has morphed beyond recognition.

Additionally, Barry Corbin as the sheriff's uncle gives such a brief yet amazing performance that I'm not sure why he's not more of a household name.

And Josh Brolin just supplied me with a dirty '80s cowboy fetish. I mean, seriously, did anyone know he was such a fantastic actor before this movie?

The majority of reviews for No Country have been positive, but there are a few (our own Beifuss is ambivalent about the movie, ultimately) that lean more toward disappointment or straight-up dislike with/for the film. The dislike seems to hinge on the film's dark, nihilistic tone, and that — within the film — there is absolutely no hope to be found while evil incarnate — Chigurh or those who would seek to harm others — walks the earth. And yet, it is the irrepressible gloominess, the foreboding, the acknowledgment of the world as a Dangerous Place that fuels the movie's charm. In the parched desert of that Texas border town, there is no order, except for the organized chaos that seems to exist one step ahead of the law. The empty streets echo the sounds of guns being fired. Who is there to save you but yourself? (Which means, ultimately, that you are doomed if you decide to tango with evil.) And so forth.

And yet, even with the humor that peppers the film's landscape, this is not a movie that needs a happy ending.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Lesley said...

And Josh Brolin just supplied me with a dirty '80s cowboy fetish. I mean, seriously, did anyone know he was such a fantastic actor before this movie?
Nope.

I was also happy to see Woody Harrelson. It was totally expected and I was glad to see him.

As for the quality this movie, I knew I was going to be in for something spectacular during the scene in the police station. The scuff marks--brilliant.

I need to write up my thoughts, but they won't be so much about the movie as the audience.

Tue Dec 04, 07:47:00 AM  
Anonymous fieldguidetomemphis said...

um yes. i knew josh brolin was such a good actor all the way back when he was mikey's older brother in goonies. the crush continues...

Tue Dec 04, 03:38:00 PM  

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