Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No Country For Old Men (2007)

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The Coen brothers have done something truly remarkable with No Country for Old Men; they have made a film that is equally funny, original, and groundbreaking as Fargo, and topped it with a more suspenseful, artistic, and bizarre work of cinema. It's not often that great casting, iconic performances, masterful camera work, ingenious editing, and sound-work beyond description come together once in a career, let alone twice as the Coens have now achieved. Adapted from a novel of the same name, No Country tracks a hunter who stumbles across a treasure in the desert and his fugitive-like flee from the senseless murderer to whom it belongs. Josh Brolin, who has had an amazing 2007 with stand-out performances in Planet Terror and American Gangster, turns in the performance of his career as Llewelyn Moss. Brolin's portrayal reveals a man trying to take advantage of what he believes is a once-in-a-lifetime event to change his life, and the personal conflict of morals and values associated with making decisions about his own life and others'. We see Moss as brave, scared, confused, certain, clever, and dumbfounded, as Brolin and the Coens mix the spectrum of emotions through a sequence of unlikely events. Tommy Lee Jones, who has played numerous gritty characters, plays Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a cop near retirement who is unsure of his place in history and the value of his life to this point. The character is utterly human in relying on habit and past experience to solve problems all while feeling the uncertainty of having done the right thing. Almost anyone who watches the movie will relate to either Moss or Bell, or both. The most memorable character, however, is Anton Chigurh, as played by Javier Bardem. The combination of style, appearance, use of weapons, and delivery of dialogue are fantastic and sinister, and Chigurh is instantly a classic film villain. The Coens, who personally crafted the screenplay and film, pay attention to every minuscule detail, and in doing so create an atmosphere unlike any other. The suspense is so heavy you can feel it forcing you into your chair, and the emotions run so high the sound of a pin-drop could be heard in the theater. This is partly due to the superb sound-work done by the Coens, which is one of the best in that aspect of all time. There is no swelling music; actually, no music at all. No Country is one of those films that leaves the audience talking for days. The Coens leave something left on the table, respecting the audience's judgment and the viewer's role in cinema. The camera work, regular, everyday sound, and performances bring forth all that is needed from this, or any film. Script-writing, direction, and acting unite to create a beautifully twisted piece of art that is likely to be the film of the year.

Good For: all movie fans, fans of the Coens previous films, suspense fans, people who like art

Bad For: people who do not like violent movies, those who like to be told a film rather than presented a film

The Gallery
The Economist: * * * * *
The Surfer: * * * * *
The Film Maker: * * * * *
The Writer * * * * *

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