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No Country for Old Men (2007)
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Review Date: February 19, 2008
Director: Ethan and Joel Coen
Writer: Ethan and Joel Coen
Producers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Actors:
Josh Brolin as Llewelyn
Javier Bardem as Anton
Tommy Lee Jones as Ed
Plot:
A good ol’ country boy with a gun happens upon a “drug deal gone bad” and finds himself $2 million dollars in cold hard cash at the same time. Of course, when that much money disappears from a deal gone awry, “people” always come a’ knocking and in this case, the guy doing the knocking is Javier Bardem in a nasty wig and an endless supply of air in his gun. Don’t ask. A lot of murders ensue, as well as an existential undercurrent which I did not “get”. Got me, friend-o?
Critique:
What an odd ending. It’d been a while since the conclusion to a film sideswiped me as much as this one did (a couple that I can remember off the top of my head are RULES OF ATTRACTION and LIMBO), but since it’s coming from the Coen brothers, I’m not gonna bust too many balls about it, although I really thought there were at least 2-3 scenes left to go at the end of this one. Abrupt and open-ended resolution aside, I was engaged throughout most of this film, but especially during its first hour and some, when the entire set-up of bat-crazy Javier Bardem and his Michael Myers persona starting huffing and puffing through Texans like it was going out of style. As per most Coen bros movies, this one looked absolutely stunning as well, particularly during many of its earliest scenes in the desert (aka New Mexico). All of the actors were perfectly cast as their characters, especially all of the secondary and post-secondary ones. That fat lady who Bardem approaches in a trailer early on in the movie, was one of my favorites and of course…the old guy in the gas station. Creeeeepy scene. Woody Harrelson, as much as I love the dude, was probably my least favorite, as he just looked and sounded too much like “Woody Harrelson”, and his character wasn’t particularly integral to the story, which also made me appreciate him that much less.

Josh Brolin, on the other hand, was as rock solid here as he was in AMERICAN GANGSTER. Love the ‘stache, man…good stuff! His film wife, Kelly McDonald, was also quite effective, especially in her scene with Bardem, while Tommy Lee Jones…well, I believe his scenes were meant to mean something more than I picked up on (I’m a little “slow” these days), but he definitely fit the grizzled old soon-to-be-retired Texas Ranger to a leather-faced tee. I also enjoyed the appearance by an almost unrecognizable Stephen Root, but was the actress playing McDonald’s mother a joke or something? She felt like a character from an SNL sketch. But ultimately, the movie rides of Bardem’s every scene and word, and he gets into this bad motherfucker like no other character I’ve ever seen him play before. As if sporting one of the best “worst” haircuts in the history of film wasn’t enough…the man scared the shit out of me every scene that he was in. One of my favorites had to be the one in which he starts making “small talk” with the aforementioned gas station owner (“Don't put it in your pocket, sir. Don't put it in your pocket. It's your lucky quarter.”)

All that good stuff aside though, the film did start to lose me a little in its second half, with the Jones scenes taking me “out of it” whenever injected into the lead plotline, some suspension of disbelief, and I can’t say that I really “got” what really happened at the end of the movie (but I’m sure some of you will email me with the real skinny). That said, I’m one of those Coen brothers movie lovers who, oddly enough, doesn’t generally go nuts over their films upon first viewing (you can read my original reviews of FARGO and THE BIG LEBOWSKI if you don’t believe me – I’ve since re-considered and upgraded my ratings of each film), so that might be the case with this flick as well…who knows.

That said, I can’t really recommend this movie to anyone looking for a thrill-ride or a film with a peppy pace, as this movie is anything but. It has a deliberate pace (it’s slow-moving, yo), and even though it provides plenty of murders and blood and even a bone sticking out of some guy’s arm at one point, it doesn’t really provide all that much action overall, and would likely bore the more ADD-infected in the audience. The film is chockfull of suspense though, and even though the lead baddie (go Bardem!) seems to be the dramatic equivalent of a slasher movie psycho (nothing kills this guy!), he’s a ton of fun to watch with Brolin as a nice counterbalance. If you’re a fan of the Coens, of course…this one’s a no-brainer. But as I ended my FARGO review back in 1998, I’m not sure I understand all of the “masterpiece” talk over this film though. Maybe in a few years, I’ll “get” it. Or maybe not. PS: Horrible title…and I KNOW it’s based on a book…I don’t care! It’s still a horrible movie title.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian
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11:15AM on 02/20/2008

Not as far off but still off

If the film had been a "thrill ride" or had a "peppy pace", then it would have been a gross miscarriage of film-making. The film, and the book, are--as I see them--statements on the violent reality we live with. Bardem represents that implacable and arbitrary violence and TLJ, as would most people, is horrified and befuddled by it. His speech at the end is his recognition that the world has changed and his way of doing things is over. That is as relevant today as it would have been in
If the film had been a "thrill ride" or had a "peppy pace", then it would have been a gross miscarriage of film-making. The film, and the book, are--as I see them--statements on the violent reality we live with. Bardem represents that implacable and arbitrary violence and TLJ, as would most people, is horrified and befuddled by it. His speech at the end is his recognition that the world has changed and his way of doing things is over. That is as relevant today as it would have been in 1980.

I really admire and love this film, but I am not a Coen brothers fan. Most of their other works just sail right past me in terms of appeal, but this one spoke to me and has stayed with me in a way that few films of this nature (small-scale, quasi-indie) have done.

BTW, NO COUNTRY was filmed in Marfa, TX; the same location where GIANT was filmed 50 years ago and where they, at the same time as NC, filmed THERE WILL BE BLOOD.
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12:22AM on 02/20/2008

No Country Title

If it makes it any clearer for you the title for the book was taken from the first line of a poem written by William Butler Yeats. It is very relevent to the story concerning the 2nd stanza of the poem...
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the
If it makes it any clearer for you the title for the book was taken from the first line of a poem written by William Butler Yeats. It is very relevent to the story concerning the 2nd stanza of the poem...
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzanthium.
Sorry I'm an English Major... but i think this is a testament to how much deeper this movie really is!
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5:28PM on 02/19/2008

I did read the book, so...

...that makes me already biased toward the rather odd and incongruous nature of the film. I was just seduced by the way that McCarthy's story would switchback on me, because unlike a lot of movies of this ilk, it's not about the guy who found the money as much as it's about the country he lives in.

And by the way, they didn't film it in New Mexico after all. Tommy Lee Jones lobbied to film it in Texas because there's nowhere else along the Rio Grande that's really like that. The film deals
...that makes me already biased toward the rather odd and incongruous nature of the film. I was just seduced by the way that McCarthy's story would switchback on me, because unlike a lot of movies of this ilk, it's not about the guy who found the money as much as it's about the country he lives in.

And by the way, they didn't film it in New Mexico after all. Tommy Lee Jones lobbied to film it in Texas because there's nowhere else along the Rio Grande that's really like that. The film deals with no greater issue than fate, and how unpredictable that can be. People don't always last long enough to face off against their greatest enemy, or else they mistake who their real enemy is. Jones' character is the old man of the title, who's outlasted his time.
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3:17PM on 02/19/2008

Best film of MANY years

Just absolutely amazing in every single way. Javier Bardem is fucking incredible.
Just absolutely amazing in every single way. Javier Bardem is fucking incredible.
Your Reply:



2:30PM on 02/19/2008

Best Film of the Year

Forget about it being a Coen Bros. film, NCFOM was as near perfect to an American film as you can get. I'm so sick and tired of hearing about There Will Be Blood - yea, yea, Lewis was awesome OK! The movie as a whole was way too long, slow and boring! Lewis' performance is the only reason it's getting half the attention it is. Michael Clayton and Juno were both much better, but No Country... was the best. That's what any educated moviegoer would say.
Still love ya though Berge - and
Forget about it being a Coen Bros. film, NCFOM was as near perfect to an American film as you can get. I'm so sick and tired of hearing about There Will Be Blood - yea, yea, Lewis was awesome OK! The movie as a whole was way too long, slow and boring! Lewis' performance is the only reason it's getting half the attention it is. Michael Clayton and Juno were both much better, but No Country... was the best. That's what any educated moviegoer would say.
Still love ya though Berge - and happy to see you feeling better!
Your Reply:



4:25AM on 02/19/2008
Well, all I can say is, you'll realize how wonderfully fitting the title is when you finally "get" the "existential undercurrent" of the film.
Well, all I can say is, you'll realize how wonderfully fitting the title is when you finally "get" the "existential undercurrent" of the film.
Your Reply:



3:08AM on 02/19/2008

Best of this year thus far

Like Joblo I thought there was a couple more scenes after TLJ's little monologue but the film was brilliant anyway. The cinematography captured landscape beautifully and I was surprised by how sympathetic I found Brolin's character.
Like Joblo I thought there was a couple more scenes after TLJ's little monologue but the film was brilliant anyway. The cinematography captured landscape beautifully and I was surprised by how sympathetic I found Brolin's character.
Your Reply:



2:13AM on 02/19/2008

The Title

I agreed with Joblo's review through and through, though obviously I liked the movie a bit more. I actually will, as with other Coen movies that aren't Barton Fink, eventually raise my rating. The movie gains significantly upon repeated viewings.

My only disagreement comes in the criticism of the title, as I think it is everything this film is about, and integral to the ending.
I agreed with Joblo's review through and through, though obviously I liked the movie a bit more. I actually will, as with other Coen movies that aren't Barton Fink, eventually raise my rating. The movie gains significantly upon repeated viewings.

My only disagreement comes in the criticism of the title, as I think it is everything this film is about, and integral to the ending.
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1:32AM on 02/19/2008
Bardem plays the best bad guy I have seen in a movie in a very long time. None of this trying to understand where he comes from type of shit, he is just a straight up asshole that enjoys murder. Great performance that should go down as one of the best villains in film history.
Bardem plays the best bad guy I have seen in a movie in a very long time. None of this trying to understand where he comes from type of shit, he is just a straight up asshole that enjoys murder. Great performance that should go down as one of the best villains in film history.
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