Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thoughts On: No Country for Old Men

I have this odd habit where I try not to read reviews of books, films, or music until I've experienced it firsthand. Then I go and find all the reviews I can and read them obsessively, curious to see what other people thought about it.

I gleaned enough about No Country for Old Men beforehand (adapted from a Cormac McCarthy book, written & directed by the Coen Brothers) that I knew it would definitely be worth seeing.

Watching the film in the theater was a completely nervewracking experience. It was one of the most suspenseful and unsettling films I've seen in a long time. I don't like scary movies and I hate gore and even though this film featured more than enough awful stuff, it somehow transcended its baser elements. It wasn't the blood and murder and fear that affected me. It was Tommy Lee Jones's craggy, heartbroken face at the end. His character was like our collective father, tired and disappointed with every choice we've made that led us to where we are now. I don't want to give anything away, but his face told the whole story and captured the title of the film so succinctly.

Most of the reviewers came to the same conclusion - the filmmaking was near perfect, the performances were spot-on...everything was exactly as it should be. It's thrilling to watch a film where every element is brought together in such an expert manner. The screen faded to black and we just sat there for a minute....taking it all in. I appreciate that the Coen Brothers sort of stepped back and let the film tell the story and the pace set itself. I know that doesn't really make sense, but they have a tendency to put their own humor into the film, particularly in making fun of characters they see as stupid. But here they stayed out of their own way and let the sparseness of the setting and storytelling be filled with our own unspoken fears.

I'm not sure I'm equipped to write film reviews.

11 comments:

StormySleep said...

They do love to tell the story of how money ruins everything (did you see Blood Simple?). I'd read the book before seeing the movie, and immediately after seeing it, I opened the book and the dialogue was word for word exactly what was in the amazing book. Still, read the book -- the biblical lyrical way McCarthy writes is worth your time, always.

I agree with you about TLJ. I could've looked at the sorrow and disappointment in his craggy face all day long. Not just because he sounds like me, not just because he looks like my people, but because it said a hundred things at once. And the way the movie just ended, with no music. Did you notice that? Usually they have a lot of music, those C Bros, but not this time.

It was haunting and chilling, and I'll have to own it as soon as possible. I think it's their best movie ever, and TLJ's best movie ever, and the same for everyone else.

And did you know Ridley Scott is directing Blood Meridian? Read that one, if you haven't and if you have the stomach for it.

Alannah said...

Blood Meridian and All The Pretty Horses are the only CMcC books I've read so far. I like his simplistic style, although I know it irks many others.

I LOVED how the screen just went to black, no music. Was there even a score? I thought their restraint in terms of noise was probably one of their best decisions, in a film full of great decisions.

Tommy Lee Jones was perfect. Full stop. He IS west Texas, isn't he?

Step Right Up said...

I love the Coen brothers and have always loved Tommy Lee Jones. After reading your review, I plan to go see it. Thanks for not giving anything away.

minijonb said...

i wanted to go see this last weekend. (we caught Lust, Cuation instead) i might have to run out soon to see it before it starts to win a bunch of awards.

Alannah said...

I don't believe in giving away movie plots (if I can help it).

How was Lust, Caution? As scandalous as they've made us believe?

Kate said...

After seeing this movie, I had absolutely NO fingernails left. It was suspenseful in all the right moments, sad, but not tear-jerking, beautiful in that strange Cohen Bros. way and adapted from an author who blows my mind. I read The Crossing by C. McC. and the images he left in my head are still with me today. But not in the same way the images from No Country are left in my head. The night after seeing it, I had nightmares or running from something. An accomplishment, if you ask me. And, you should write film reviews in my opinion...especially if you like the film!

p.s. what is with people text messaging DURING movies these days? Especially good movies, or nail biting movies? I see it as a fault of our society...

Alannah said...

OMG Kate...I noticed some jackass kept flipping open his phone down below us (now there's a stadium-seating thee-yater in Fayetteville!)...I don't know if he was texting or checking something or just wanting to shed a little blue light into the audience. I really hate that. Like you REALLY can't wait until the movie's over? and you REALLY don't think everyone else notices and is pissed off by it?

Alisson said...

I loved the sociopath killer!!
He is most definitely my new boyfriend!!

ReckenRoll said...

I think you did a great job reviewing the movie! I've had my head in the sand about movies lately and have not heard much on this one but want to see it now just based on your review! Sounds great!

Stephanie said...

You definitely have piqued my curiosity about this movie. But I don't know if I could muster the courage to see it, if it is a nailbiter and sows nightmares for some. If I go, I'll probably be the one with my head buried between my legs and my palms pressed against my ears.

But I won't be texting or checking my phone calls!

Step Right Up said...

There is a nifty little theater here where I live that shows only independent type movies and serves food, beer, and wine. They are currently showing No Country and two more movies I want to see (Bella and In To the Wild). If the freezing rain doesn't keep me holed up this weekend I will try to catch a flick or two.