I'd like to spank the Academy

No_Country_for_Old_Men_posterDirected by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

I know it’s been a little while since I’ve posted, and I feel very bad about that. I know I left all my adoring fans hanging in 2007 (hahaha! Look at me, pretending I have fans!), but writing when you have a fever rarely produces anything that makes any sense, let alone anything readable. So in the future, I will attempt to not get sick until I’ve posted an entire week’s worth of reviews so that you, my loyal readers, will not be left without my wisdom.

I knew two things about this movie before I watched it: 1) It was based on a book by Cormac McCarthy and 2) It was a Coen brothers film. And this time, I was right on both counts! This movie makes a lot more sense for the Coen brothers. Although it’s a drama, it still has enough quirky characters and funny lines to bring that Coen brothers feel to it. Of course, that makes me extremely curious about the book that it’s based on. Does it have that same quirky feeling to it? Maybe one day when I have time in my life, I will find out.

So what’s the story? One day while he is out hunting (or poaching, maybe?) in the desert, Llewelyn Moss stumbles across the bloody aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. He finds a case containing two million dollars, and instead of reporting it to the police, he decides to keep the money and run. Because he leaves his truck at the scene, he is soon being pursued by both the county sheriff and a psychopathic killer who works for the drug lord.

The Good: It’s extremely well-acted. Josh Brolin is Llewelyn Moss, a Vietnam veteran who wants more in his life. Tommy Lee Jones plays Ed Tom, the county sheriff who just can’t understand the mindless violence that has entered his life. And Javier Bardem won an Oscar for his portrayal of Anton Chigurh, the incredibly scary psychopathic killer. Side note: I realized while I was watching this movie that although Javier Bardem is an attractive man, I’ve only seen him in movies where he plays a really bad guy, so I’m a little bit scared of him. I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice man in real life, but I would need to see him being nice in real life to overcome the scary people I’ve seen him play. Kelly MacDonald is Moss’s innocent young wife with a backbone of steel. Her scene at the end was so well-played, I had to watch it twice.

I don’t know whether it was the acting or the screenplay or the direction, but No Country for Old Men is a gripping movie. I couldn’t stop watching. I got a phone call in the middle of the movie from someone I love, and getting pulled out of the movie made me really frustrated. I was so annoyed that I had to pause it; I was so into it and so absorbed in the world of the movie that coming out for a phone call was almost painful. And that was to talk to someone I care about. If it had been a telemarketer, Iā€™m not sure what I would have done.

The Bad: Although I love Kelly MacDonald and think she’s a great actress, she looked so young that when I first saw her, I thought she was Josh Brolin’s teenaged daughter, which made it really creepy when he told her that if she didn’t stop talking, he was going to take her to the bedroom. It honestly took me a bit to realize she was supposed to be his wife. I think that’s more the fault of the makeup and costume people than anything. Everything else makeup and costumey worked, even Chigurh’s creepy haircut, but something needed to be done to make Kelly MacDonald not look like a sixteen-year-old.

I also felt like there was a lot of backstory to everyone which we as viewers never really get told about. Backstory is a good thing; it adds a lot of richness to a movie. But it left me with the feeling that there were things going on that I didn’t understand, and that frustrated me a bit. The questions didn’t all get answered, either. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONEY?

The Ugly: After watching No Country for Old Men, I feel kind of silly saying that There Will Be Blood was violent. No Country for Old Men is so much worse. People get shot left and right for no discernable purpose. I am also now afraid of oxygen tanks, although I recognize that Chigurh’s was a special cattle tool. Still. They are scary. And because there were so many deaths, I was left feeling empty at the end. I thought, “Wait. That’s it? That’s all there is to this story? What? How? Who? No, there has to be another ten minutes or so.” I didn’t have a feeling of closure; the movie just…ended. I didn’t like that at all. I felt like if that’s how it was going to end, then there wasn’t much point to the two hours that led up to the ending.

Oscars Won: Best motion picture of the year; best performance by an actor in a supporting role (Javier Bardem); best achievement in directing; best writing, adapted screenplay.

Other Oscar Nominations: Best achievement in cinematography; best achievement in film editing; best achievement in sound mixing; best achievement in sound editing.

Comments on: "No Country for Old Men (2007)" (5)

  1. Nothing to add, except that the Cormac McCarthy I’ve read (“All the Pretty Horses”) carries a very different tone than the usual Coen Brothers Treatment. I want to read the original “No Country” now!

    Also, you should read AtPH if you haven’t. It’s great. Don’t listen to the abridged Brad Pitt audio version.


  2. P.S. You have fans! Quality over quantity. šŸ˜‰


  3. Jonathan said:

    I did think it was amusing that you thought that There Will Be Blood was violent with its intense but brief murder scenes. I wondered what you would think of this movie. šŸ™‚

    I remember when this movie came out. Before I saw it some of the other officers were talking about it in line up. One of them said that you’ll either like how it ended or you’ll hate it. When I saw it I decided that I liked it. Apparently you did not.

    I thought the acting was top notch in the movie. Javier Bardem was a very convincing serial killer, who could pull the trigger without a second thought. His pure evil seeped out of him. (If you want to see a movie where he is not a bad guy, watch Christy Vicky Barcelona.) His portrayal in the gas station scene was awesome. The other actors were equally compelling, from Moss to his mother in law. (“I got the cancer!”) I didn’t have a problem with Moss’ wife seeming too young. She was just fine to me. Her last scene was so well done I thought that she deserved at least an Oscar nomination for that alone (she didn’t get one).

    Like I said, I wasn’t bothered at all by the lack of closure. In fact, I think that’s the point of the film, if there was one. At the beginning it seems that a Vietnam vet working a blue collar job and living in a trailer in rural Texas would fight for the new life that such a fortune would bring. (A non-scientific innernet search shows that such a sum would be about $6,000,000 today.) But as the movie goes on and the circle of violence begins to include his family, this seems less and less likely. Whether because of greed, stubbornness, or something else, Moss fights on, he and his wife pay the price, and the whole venture is shown for what it is: nothing. It doesn’t matter who gets the money. Whether Chigurh got it, or the cartels did, or the government seized it, or the sheriff got a retirement “bonus”, that doesn’t change anything. People are dead, some good and some bad. But the money was just that, a bag of cash that never brought good to anyone who became involved in it.

    With so much of “The Bad” and “The Ugly”, I’m surprised that you listed this first for that year. Is that because of lack of competition, or because despite everything that you disliked about it you still felt that it deserved the Oscar that it got?


    • I thought all of the movies from 2007 were very good, and I would have been happy no matter what won, but despite the fact that I didn’t like the ending, I have to admit that this was a fabulous movie, and I really do feel that it was the best of the five. And you are totally right about Kelly Macdonald deserving an Oscar just for that last scene. And yet she wasn’t even nominated. What’s up with that, Academy?


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