Tuesday, May 1, 2007

No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men
dir. Joel and Ethan Coen

Hair + Can = Movie Magic

Jeff GP, NEW YORK CITY
April 30, 2007 - 35mm/AMC Lincoln Square

Josh Brolin plays Llewlyn Moss. One day, on a rather unsuccessful hunt in the pristine wild of West Texas, Llewlyn happens upon the aftermath of a botched heroin deal. Bloodied, rotting bodies of both men and dogs have been shot full of holes. It’s a mess, but it is beautiful. The site is brimming with a history of the not too distant past. The loud gunfight lives on only in this painting, a still sculpture of bloodshed. Llewlyn methodically observes the carnage as though wandering through a museum or diorama. Every bit of motion on the hush landscape is startling. Following a trail of blood, which may as well have been gingerbread, he finds the body of a man who almost got away, and with him, a satchel full of cash. How much cash? Who cares. A lot. The concern is not how much cash is in the satchel, but whom the money now belongs to. Finders keepers. Llewlyn Moss takes the money. There’s no turning back, and the wonderful thing about No Country for Old Men is, Llewlyn Moss doesn’t turn back. He takes things as the come. It’s not fate. It’s more complicated than fate. It’s survival.

For every hero (Llewlyn Moss), there’s an equally capable villain (Anton Chigurh). Chigurh is a movie baddie for the history books. Javier Bardem embodies his charms, looks and creative murderous zeal with expert precision. He wields a can of super-compressed air (the sort used on the kill-floor of the slaughterhouse) and turns it on humanity. It is a quiet way to take a life, and the nonchalance with which Chigurh executes his victims is matched by how death and violence is portrayed in the movie. There is a startling, magnificent degree of matter-of-factness to the entire thing. There is little to no screaming in No Country for Old Men and practically no music in aid of tension or action. The violence is allowed to exist. Death is enough. Death, as a matter-of-fact, is serious. It speaks for itself, though it would be a mistake to call this “hands-off” moviemaking, as the deliberately paced action sequences are gasp-worthy because of the stillness and silence contained within the expertly designed landscape, both physical and emotional.

The carnage and straight-laced in-the-moment chaos of the Llewlyn/Chigurh young man’s hunt is juxtaposed with Sheriff Ed Tom Bell’s tempered reflections on life’s past. No Country for Old Men takes place in 1980, but more importantly it is set in the present tense. The present is a difficult place for Ed Tom to be. Played by Tommy Lee Jones, Ed Tom is an old man, and suffice it to say, this is no country for him. Whilst providing the greatest amount of comic relief in his dealings with the young deputy (chameleon Garret Dillahunt), Ed Tom also carries the brunt of the burden all of life and death on his sad shoulders. His hefty words bookend this tale nearly devoid of foreshadowing, catharsis and climax.

No Country for Old Men is a marvelous movie, steadily surprising and thrilling both emotionally and intellectually, with performances, wit, set pieces and visuals that are a glory to behold. Every location is lived in. Every hotel room needs a dusting. Every home seemingly decorated by its occupants. The astounding and ravishing Scottish actress, Kelly Macdonald, plays Llewlyn’s wife and not for a moment can you consider her not a West Texas native. Writer/Directors Joel and Ethan Coen have successfully captured the spirit of the present, forever moment (as provided by Cormac McCarthy) in both personality and texture, fashioning an eternal motion picture classic.

Moviemakers and storytellers have been deconstructing the mythos of the “Old West” for generations. There is timelessness and urgency in this exploration, worthy not only of the brain, but also of the soul and to the very essence of being natural people of this country and of this earth.

11 comments:

JOEY DEVINE! said...

PLANT!

No fucking way this is real! This must be from the studio. or even the coen's themselves!!!!!!!

Jeff GP said...

Joey, baby, please! What do I have to do to convince you? I love you, baby. I'm on my knees here. I love you. Don't leave me! Don't leave me, baby! You know me! You know me! I love you! This is how you repay me!?

I love you, baby.

I must be confused. What did I do yesterday? Either I saw No Country for Old Men or read the shooting script for Country Bears (which, by the way, I received for my birthday).

Bottom line:
This is either a very real review of No Country for Old Men or a very fake review of the Country Bears shooting script.

Jeff Larson said...

Man, alive, wow! We're rolling now folks.

JOEY DEVINE! said...

yeah we're rolling until I post again. I'm gonna bring this blog to a fucking halt again! You'll see! it's gonna be AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

What's great about over-the-top, rave reviews like this is that they can be so f-ckin inspired.

I am now absolutely going to go see "No Country for Old Men" and if I happen to appreciate many of the same things that you articulated here, I think I'll buy the dvd, print out this review and then plaster it over the back of the dvd case. :)

//A swede with a love for sampling american criticism (Hollywood Elsewhere, NYRev, Emanuel Levy..)

Dan Keezer said...

Jesus, I mean, remember the part where Spiderman is on the phone and eating that girl's cookies? Hah! Man! It's like: I want some nuts, I want some milk!

That movie is crazy.

Jeff Larson said...

Yeah, man, I want some cookies. With nuts.

JOEY DEVINE! said...

yeah and remeber when the whole thing hinged on a wierd speech by the butler? WAY TO GO BUTLER GUY!!

JOEY DEVINE! said...

wow someone remind me to speelcheks my comments bfor posting nxt time

Dan Keezer said...

oh, man, Joey, do you remember when Jameson's desk was vibrating uncontrollably and he was taking all that medicine? It went on for like... 8 minutes or something, what the heck!

JOEY DEVINE! said...

yeah that was wierd.