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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Fine, Dark Time in No Country For Old Men

[In preparation for True Grit, I thought I'd post the thoughts I had on 'No Country' from back in 07]

No Country For Old Men = 5 out of 5 Stars
Wendell: You think this boy Moss got any notion of the sorts that're huntin' him?
Ed Tom Bell: I don't know, he ought to. He's seen the same things I've seen, and it's certainly made an impression on me.
The Coen Brothers have returned.  Back from the zany hijinks in their previous features: Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers, the Coen's have come to make one their best films, one of the best thrillers of recent years, and one of the best films of the year. Adding to all that, it is a thinker as well.  This film matches its fine performances and relentless tension with another layer that requires some solid consideration regarding the events that took place.  I left this film considering everything I saw, piecing the various elements together, putting back together scenarios, and I enjoyed doing it. It was the kind of movie that benefits from the thought put into it, and it still has all that Coen Brothers flare, not to mention the benefits from repeated viewings.

The twisty plot involves a simple man in Texas. Llewellyn, played by Josh Brolin, in another great performance of this year, stumbles across a botched drug deal, where all of the men are found dead, and $2 million dollars is his for the taking. He wishes...


Enter Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), one of the most despicable and psychopathic killers around. Armed with few weapons that no one would ever want to be on the wrong side of, Anton is a force to be reckoned with.
Anton Chigurh: What business of where I'm from is yours...friendo?
After Llewellyn barely escapes others trying to get their hands on him, he must deal with Anton's own kind of principles of how to handle the problems presented to him.

Tommy Lee Jones eventually enters the scene as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. He is a good cop, but in his time has seen too much and just doesn't understand the world anymore. Ed also becomes involved in finding out the whereabouts of those involved in this botched deal.

Finally you have Woody Harrelson as a bounty hunter who has encountered Chigurh before, and plans to solve some problems.

Man who hires Wells: Just how dangerous is he?
Carson Wells: Compared to what? The bubonic plague?
While the setup sounds fairly straightforward, the ways things unfold is done with a lot of subtlety for the most part, leaving the audience to piece together some of the points.

Regardless, the plot leads to some of the most thrilling scenes and face-offs I've seen in a while. Not since Blood Simple have the Coens' made a film so invested in the thriller formula, without an overt twist on the concept. That being said, this film still has the quirky character moments and great dialog that makes it a Coen Brother's film through and through.
Wendell: You know, there might not have been no money.
Ed Tom Bell: That's possible.
Wendell: But you don't believe it.
Ed Tom Bell: No. Probably I don't.
Wendell: It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell: If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
As the film reaches its ending, its gets to the points that will make it stand out differently to audiences. I was pleased to see that this movie goes a route that is not necessarily familiar to the average audience. It also provides the reasons I described at the beginning as to why this is a movie that I enjoyed getting to think about afterward.  Having adapted this film from a Cormack McCarthy novel, I was pleased to see his sort of spirit captured by the Coen brothers in this film.  Add to that some great performances from Brolin, Bardem, and Jones, wonderfully cinematography from Roger Deakens to capture the Texas atmosphere, and plenty of other great elements to make this all work.


This is a great movie with uniformly great performances, memorable characters, great dialogue, and a great look to the wasteland areas of Texas that are shown, proving once again, along with other elements in this film, that less can be more.
Anton Chigurh: Don't put it in your pocket, sir. Don't put it in your pocket. It's your lucky quarter.
Gas Station Proprietor: Where do you want me to put it?
Anton Chigurh: Anywhere not in your pocket. Where it'll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin, which it is.
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