Nov 10, 2007

Cormac/Coens = Old Men

I saw No Country For Old Men last night. It may have been one of the best movies I have ever seen. Sometimes you just know. In the last few years when I saw a movie like City Of God or Old Boy I walked out knowing I had never seen anything like them. That these would go down in history. You know when you have experienced something truly new. One of the tensest movies I've ever seen. With perhaps the most realistic violence. Perfect sound. When someone shot at someone else it had this perfect distance, percussion, and eventual deep hit in either glass, wood, concrete, metal, or flesh. There was nothing clean and perfect about anything in the movie. I love the Coen brothers, but this is in my mind their best movie. Everything they had promised with Blood Simple and Millers Crossing comes to life here. Plus as a fan of Cormac McCarthy I was amazed that someone could adapt something of his to such a level of perfection. This was maybe the best adaptation of a book that I have ever read. I've noticed some reviewers totally missing the point of the movie(and book). It's about the meaningless of violence. Therefore meaningless violence occurs with no moral or outcome meant to satisfy. This is very important to understand. Dying happens. It has no meaning or worth. It's a nihilistic, existentialist point of view(something that was very prevalent in the other two more violent and dark books I have read by McCarthy). This isn't about making the viewer or reader happy about outcomes of conflicts. This is about real life and how unhappy and unfulfilling true violence is. I think the last scenes make this all too clear yet I have read people who either didn't listen or see the scenes in the context.

Everyone is great in this movie. Josh Brolin is perfect, I know that Tommy Lee Jones has been waiting to play this particular part for decades(he's optioned a book or two in the past by McCarthy and made his own movie that closely parallels this one). Woody Harelson is great and in his own film catalogue this serves as a sharp answer to Natural Born Killers. But it is Javier Bardem that is something else. Oscar worthy and any other year that Daniel Day Lewis didn't embody acting he would be the obvious choice for best actor.

This is a movie only an experienced film maker could make. You would have to have about ten or more movies under your belt to have this level of patience and the daring to basically piss off your audience(which this does). But if you listen it's all there. Everything you need to know. Or don't need to know. And that is what makes it a Cormac McCarthy story.

The last scene is devastating. And perfect like few others.

If you don't like films that don't explain things and have a philosophical bent more important than plotting, morals, and outcomes then really don't watch this. It is not an action movie. It is the antithesis of one.


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