Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Coming back from Serbia and my BROTHERS BLOOM set visit, I had a stopover in Paris. It wasn't long enough to step outside (except onto the tarmac when I deplaned), but you have no idea how tempted I was to just hideaway in the airport and spend a week buying duty free chocolates and cologne until it was time to hitchhike my way to Cannes. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is one of the reasons I'm really pissed I can't be at Cannes. I want to see this so badly. The Coens rock... and here are two more reviews to ponder while we all play the waiting the game. First review is from our regular spy, Bungion Boy. Enjoy!
Hey Harry, et al. Bungion Boy, here with a review of the new Coen Brothers film “No Country For Old Men,” which had a screening in New York last night before it shows at Cannes next week. I was also invited to see “Killshot” and “1408” last night, so I had to make a choice. It was an easy decision. This is the Coen Brothers, for Pete’s sake. I should preface by saying I’m a huge fan of their work. Yes, even “Intolerable Cruelty” and “The Ladykillers,” while not their best work by any means, had some things to like and were better than a lot of the comedies made today. But we’re not here to talk about those films. This is the film for all the people who believe the Coen’s haven’t made a decent film since “Fargo” and “The Big Lebowski.” A return to form, if you will. It is the darkest and most violent film the Coen’s have made. Oh. It’s also a masterpiece. The film is based on a book by Cormac McCarthy, who also wrote the source material for “All The Pretty Horses.” I remember a few years ago when my mom, who manages a bookstore, was raving about this book called “No Country For Old Men,” calling it her favorite book of the year. I should have listened. I’m certainly going to read it now. It was such a joy to see this without knowing anything about it so I won’t go too deeply into the story. The film takes place in and around a small, boarder town in Texas. Josh Brolin plays Lewellen Moss, who one day while hunting, stumbles upon what looks like a Mexican drug-running operation gone wrong. He finds a few corpses, one man barely alive, a truck full of drugs, and a bag containing 2 million dollars. The film chronicles Moss’ efforts to escape with the money, while being pursued by several people tracking him down. At the top of that list is Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem. Now in many ways this is his film. Bardem plays one of the most psychopathic killers I’ve ever seen in a movie. He is absolutely chilling from the first moments we see him on screen. He seems to travel the country, killing anyone who he exchanges a few words with. His weapon of choice? A tank of compressed air. Just wait until you see that. You can’t take your eyes off him. There’s a scene at a gas station in which he coldly flips a coin and repeatedly demands that the attendant to “Call it.” It’s one of the scariest and funniest scenes in the film and after that you cherish every moment that Bardem is on screen. You never really know where Chigurh is coming from. We assume he’s been hired by someone high up to find and kill Moss, but we’re spared cliché’ scenes of exposition like that. The audience is smarter than they’re usually given credit for. They don’t need to have everything explained to them. Also looking into the mess is Bell, the Sheriff of the town played to perfection by Tommy Lee Jones. He appears periodically throughout the film, trying to make sense of the crimes. Note that we don’t really see him trying to solve the crimes, or even in pursuit of anyone. It’s not that kind of movie. Mostly we just see him, looking troubled. Jones is also very funny in the film. He and his deputy, played by Garret Dillahunt who played a few memorable roles on “Deadwood,” have terrific dialogue that at times is a little reminiscent of the Marge Gunderson scenes from “Fargo.” Rounding out the rest of the cast is a fun Woody Harrelson as another man looking for Moss and Chigurh and Kelly Macdonald as Moss’ wife. The Coen’s direction and Roger Deakins’ cinematography is breath taking. There are long sequences without dialogue but what is on the screen is always so compelling and beautiful that you can’t take your eyes off it. This is also the most action packed film the Coen’s have made. The scenes of pursuit and stealth are quiet and suspenseful, and they are interrupted often without warning with intense, disturbing, but thrilling violence. Some of the most memorable scenes involving Moss being chased by a dog through a river and Moss’ tactics of laying low in a few motels, not knowing that he is being tracked and can be easily found. It’s so rarely these days that a film advertised as a “thriller” is actually thrilling. Just because Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling are playing cat and mouse head games with each other, doesn’t mean that it’s thrilling. This movie had me and the rest of the audience on the edge of our seats. One guy in my row kept screaming every time Bardem’s air canister went off. There was also strong reactions from the audience to the violence, which is relentless. It makes recent offerings like “The Departed” look like Dreamworks Animated Features. This is certainly not a date movie. The woman picking people for the focus group seemed to be looking only for the opinions of men. I think that’s who it will appeal to the most, though the girls who love this movie are the kinds of girls I’d want to take home to mom. I wasn’t really able to gage the audience reaction to the last act of the movie. There are a few big surprises and a few stories wrap up with some big unanswered questions. This didn’t bother me in the slightest but I can imagine that it could upset a lot of people who wanted to see certain characters brought to justice and certain deaths explained at greater detail. But again, this is not that kind of movie. While watching this I kept thinking back to the occasionally fun but ultimately empty experience I had watching “Smokin’ Aces.” Aside from the fact that Chigurh is so terrifying that he makes the characters in “Aces” look like sugar plum faeries, this is just such a richer experience. “Aces” promised an orgy of blood and violence, and therefore I was never shocked when something horrific or violent happened in it. This delivers the kind of film I think “Aces” wanted to be but doesn’t make any of the violence and action fun or cool. It just makes it compelling and disturbing. You want the violence to stop but you also don’t want it to end. You want certain characters to come to their senses but you also love seeing them on this destructive path. This is sure to be one of my favorite films of the year and one of those rare films where I did not know what was waiting around the corner of each scene. I know this is kind of an unapologetic rave, but you don’t have to take my word. Just wait for the Cannes reaction in the next few weeks. I’m sure it will be the same. I can’t wait for November to see this again. -Bungion Boy
"A return to form." I can't fuckin' wait. Here's another, smaller, review, but just as positive!!!
Hallo Gents, Mindseye again. A quick review of No Country for Old Men which I was fortunate enough to see last night. I think I have only seen one review on the site thus far. This is a Coen Bros movie based on the Cormac The Immaculate McCarthy book. The story is mostly straight forward: Llewellyn Moss played by Josh Brolin stumbles onto the scene of a drug deal gone bad. He obsconds with some goods found therein and then a chase ensues. The chase is by mostly by one Anton Chighur, a cruel force-of-nature assassin played fantastically by Javier Bardem. He mesmerizes. Absolutely. Worth seeing this because of just him. But there were lots of other good things too. The Coens are really on the their game here. The film perfectly captures the tone of the book: spare and malevelent. The humor is perfect for them, dry and wise and black, and I found myself laughing with the movie often. (Especially when Moss is chased in a river by a swimming dog!) The action is brisk and suspenseful. The violence is not watered down. The acting is great cast-wide. The Coens can distill an actor to his purest form. They put people in movies to do only the job that they can do best. I am no huge Tommy Lee Jones fan but he was great in this, as was Josh Brolin and I never cared about him before much either. Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald terrific, too. The only problem with the movie, and it is no small one, is the last third is quite anticlimactic. I am not going to spoil, but the same fault lies with the book as well. Perhaps the Coens adhered to a bit too closely. Anyway, this was a strong movie, truly terrific in many respects. It makes me salivate for a "Blood Meridien". Oh, Scott Rudin, I just saw on IMDB that BM is announced for 2009! KNOCK IT OUT OF THE PARK! Make is great. Make it great. And get the Coen Bros on board. Mindseye