We took in No Country for Old Men last night. Excellent, excellent movie. It’s the Coen brothers adapting the novel by Cormac McCarthy, which should be enough for many. You also have Tommy Lee Jones at his best, Josh Brolin and his enormous mustache, and one of the better film villains you’ll see in Javier Bardem’s shotgun-wielding Chiguhr. Bardem is so good, so creepy, so sinister, it would truly be a shame if he doesn’t garner some serious Oscar consideration for his performance. Knowing the Academy though, they’ll shy away from the inherent violence and one-tracked nature of this role. That would be a shame, because if you want to see a truly visceral portrayal of human evil (as opposed to say, robot cartoon evil), this is it.
No Country for Old Men is the kind picture that reminds you that despite what Hollywood would have us believe, movies can still provide a great narrtaive experience. They can do more than give you ‘entertainment value’. This film also reminds you that when motivated and on their game, no one’s better the Coen brothers. They are subtle, then direct. They inject little pockets of humor into an otherwise bleak story. They, along with the actors, make the characters real and accessible, which in turn heightens your investment in the story. Here they are so good and skillful, well, it’s a real pleasure to watch.
It’s beautifully filmed with strong western overtones and set in the desert of West Texas. Now Texas is not nearly so grand as the Texans like to think, but they do have some impressive vistas there. And as usual, the Coens have found some true salt-of-the-earth types from the region to fill out the mise-en-scene. The plot revolves around this old boy (Brolin) stumbling on to a drug deal gone bad and picking up the $2 million left sitting in the dirt. Then the Sheriff (Jones) and the bad guy Chiguhr (Bardem) are after him. And that’s all you need to know. Oh, and it’s set around 1980, doesn’t really have (or need) a score or music, and it’s bloody. Go out and see this one. It will hopefully remain in theaters near you for the awards season.
The only way the movie could’ve been better is if it would’ve featured a surprise cameo by Godzilla.
But seriously, the one trailer that stood out from last night was the extended version of J. J. Abrams’ Cloverfield (Quicktime linky). Looks pretty intense and cool in a big disaster kind of way. If you look close you’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of what appears to be some kind of giant monster responsible for all that destruction, and if that monster doesn’t turn out to be Godzilla, well, we should all be outraged. I guess we’ll find out next week when Cloverfield (what a weak name BTW) hits the screen.