The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Saturday, December 01, 2007

“No Country For Old Men” (2007)

Joel and Ethan Coen have fascinated me since “Blood Simple” days. Back then, I heard a rumor floating around Hollywood that there was a movie too violent to be a comedy and too funny to be a Noir. It was a revelation.

They’ve had their ups and downs, and by any decent measure I know, “Country” is stratospheric. All I’ll say is that it is dark, disturbing, funny, and speckled with some of the best acting and moral philosophy I’ve seen in a theatrical release this year. Well, I’ll say that it’s a thriller on the surface, a chase film about a cowboy (Josh Brolin) who discovers a cache of drug money in the desert and is pursued by the most frightening hit man (Javier Bardem) in the history of film. I kid you not, this movie isn’t playing around at all. Set in the 1980’s it seems to be saying that the beginning of the drug wars was the end of one entire era of American society. Tommy Lee Jones has always been a fine actor, and never better than here, as the Texas sheriff nearing retirement, faced by the visage of chaos and evil in human form. The wreckage spreads far and wide. Illusions are laid bare. Heroes fall. Love is no protection. Cleverness won’t save you. Maybe, just maybe, a snse of moral balance will. Perhaps courtesy will grease the wheels of communication with Satan himself. Violent and “elevated genre” in the best sense of the term, this is in my top five films of the year. A solid “A+”


Unknown said...

I LOVED this film

The Cohens do something great with their movies - they never let the audience get complacent. "Oh Brother" was fun and musical and you enjoyed their escape - but there was darkness in that world and even when things were going well, they would throw in some kind of conflict. Big Lebowski (one of my top 10 movies of all time) was hysterical... but there were a couple pretty sad/brutal moments (Donny having a heart attack, Lebowski getting beaten in his apartment and then the goons doin that thing to his rug). "No Country" kept this going so well. Both Brolin and Bardem were relentless throughout the film (Brolin surviving and Bardem killing).

Anonymous said...

I'd say
even before seeing the movie
the credit is mainly
to Cormac MacCarthy
one of the fienst writers I ever read

His best work, in my opinion
is Blood Meridian

He writes vicious
and deadly and hopelessness
better and more beautifully
than anyone I have ever read

and you know
vicious and deadly and despair
aren't major turner-oners
for me

everyone should read