Country For Old Men (USA; 122 min.)
directed by: Ethan and Joel Coen
starring: Tommy Lee Jones; Javier Bardem; Josh Brolin
Barbara says: "Definitely one of my favorites this year. A film that makes you think about chance and how we react to what life throws at us. Hard to figure out who the heroes really are. The Coens have done a great job in not making it too 'heavy.' Javier Badem and Tommy Lee Jones were great. Supporting cast was good as well. 5 cats"
|Bruce says: "Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a
welder who has free time on his hands, time to roam the countryside hunting
antelope and get himself into big trouble. He spots a caravan of pickup
trucks in a valley and cautiously approaches the scene. What he finds
is a massacre. There could be only two reasons for such bloodshed: money
and drugs. He spots a satchel with $2 million and takes it home. 'What’s
in the satchel, honey?' his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) asks. The
next day Carla Jean sees trouble coming 'Be careful. Don’t get hurt.
Don’t hurt no one,' she tells Llewelyn. Wasted words on a man destined
to make foolish choices.
"Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is after the $2 million and it is soon evident that he is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. Anton is one of the more colorful villains in cinematic history with his pageboy hairdo, his soft spoken demeanor and his unique weapon of choice - an air gun disguised as an oxygen tank. He shoots a man, steals his car, gets picked up and taken to jail where he kills a patrolman and breaks free to begin the kill/steal cycle over again. Anton is connected to the massacre but exactly how we never know. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is about to retire and the viewer can’t help but worry this is another of those films where the good guy gets killed on his last gig. He is determined to find Anton and save Llewelyn who he knows is mixed up in the mess somehow. What Llewelyn doesn’t know is that the satchel is tagged with a transponder. Anton soon tracks Llewelyn down at his hideaway at the Regal Motel. Suddenly a bounty hunter named Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) enters the picture. Everybody’s looking for something or someone. It is Carla Jean’s mother that seals the fate of several of them by innocently answering the questions of a gentleman who offers to help her with her heavy luggage.
"NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is similar in many respects to THE THREE BURIALS OF MELQUIADES ESTRADA and JINDABYNE. Both of those films involved killings and both films attempt to let the storytelling yield to meditations on the environment in which they take place and on man’s struggle for answers in a world void of meaning and reasonable conclusions. What makes NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN a better picture is the extraordinary direction by the Coens. From start to finish they control their film with a strong hand. Some scenes are nothing short of breathtaking in their graceful exactitude. Others are filled with uncommon suspense as fate is determined by the flip of a coin.
"Llewelyn, Anton and the Sheriff encounter lots of choice characters in and around Del Rio, Texas. The trailer park manager, the lady who runs the Regal Motel, the man in the isolated grocery store, a gun dealer, a man with many cats, the waitress in the diner all are as almost as colorful as the eccentrics that populated the Coens' adroit MILLER’S CROSSING. Everyone here is a bit of a cartoon as is the blood that many of them spill.
"Somewhere near the end, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN shifts gears, veering from a captivating game of cat-and-mouse to a meditation which, instead of punctuating the story, leaves the film dangling. What works well in literature does not always translate perfectly to the screen. 4.5 cats"
|Michael says: "**SLIGHT SPOILERS**
"So I waited until this film was out on DVD before I finally saw it on the big screen!
"So, let me start by saying that I liked this film. It was well-written, well-directed and well-acted. But I need to know from my fellow Chlotrudis members why this is the best movie of the year. It’s a good, suspense film. I enjoyed it; but there are a whole lot of films I think were better last year.
"For me, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is the dark sibling of FARGO. Both films are set in a stark, expansive landscape, one filled with browns and grays, the other with whites and grays. Both feature characters with strong accents. Both focus on the darkness in life and feature protagonists that have trouble understanding this darker element in life and fight to keep society on the side of the light. Both films feature quiet, psychotic killers. The major difference between the two films is that the major force of good in FARGO, (Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson) is still optimistic and hopeful about keeping the world a positive place to live. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN’s Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is like Marge Gunderson 35 years later. He’s still fighting on the side of the right, but he’s no longer so optimistic or certain the world is good place to live. He’s staring to feel that there’s no place for him in this world.
"Much has been said about the abrupt shift in tone in the film’s latter half. I didn’t even really notice that. Sure, for many viewers there will be an element of dissatisfaction in the conclusions of the three main characters’ stories. From the off-screen conclusion to Llewelyn Moss’ (Josh Brolin) tale, to the abrupt finale of Anton Chigurh’s rampage, there’s not a whole lot of resolution for those seeking a nicely wrapped up finale. Even Ed Tom Bell’s story ends on an odd, difficult to comprehend poetic moment. These things didn’t bother me, and they seemed fitting for the fate-driven theme of the story.
"I really enjoyed the barren Texan landscape of the film, so reminiscent of FARGO’s snow-covered wasteland. Much has been made of Javier Bardem’s portrayal of the single-minded, killing machined Anton Chigurh; but I found the role to be fairly one-dimensional and would have liked to see more nuance in the character to find it worthy of the accolades. There’s no hint of Kelly McDonald’s Scottish accent buried in her southern drawl, and as is not surprising for me, I found the film most interesting when she was onscreen. And it’s always delightful to see my gal Beth Grant, and her one scene didn’t disappoint.
"The Coen Brothers are a talented writing/directing pair. I enjoy almost all of their films, and this one is no exception, but I don’t feel the need to redo my Top 10 to fit it in. 4 cats"
Marilyn says (in response to Michael): Well said, Michael---especially your comparison to Fargo and your analysis of the Bardem character. It always was the same and really not true to what a psychotic killer would be. Usually, they are great con men, engaging...it was hard to see why anyone would let this guy near them. He was very one note and with an obvious exception, I would rather have seen the oscar in Tom W's hands."