IT AT AMAZON:
- Working with The Coens
- The Making of No Country for Old
- Diary of a Country Sheriff
Drug money places a Vietnam Vet in the path of Hurricane
Reason #1 Why I Love Roger Deakins. Look at the symmetry in that frame!
No Country for Old Men is an impressive adaptation of the
pitiless novel from Cormac McCarthy. Brutal hitman Anton Chigurh has been hired
to retrieve a satchel of money taken from a crime scene by innocent by-stander
Llewelyn Moss. Sheriff Ed Bell is following both men, as he attempts to resolve
the case before any more lives are lost.
I got here the same way the coin got here. Minutes away from
the conclusion of the film, the audience figures out Chigurh’s purpose. Chigurh
knows that to keep doing what he has to do, nobody from the main events of No
Country for Old Men can know about him. Carla Jean Moss tries to understand
this, but through her inexperienced filter. She forgoes the rules of the game
and tries to make a plea to Chigurh’s decency. But, decency doesn’t play into
violence. There’s only the crushing weight of predestination.
Things have been moving awfully slow in Hazard County since the Duke Boys blew themselves up in Uncle Jesse’s meth lab.
The idea of Utilitarianism gets tossed around a lot during
the course of the film. Chigurh is a big fan of the concept. There isn’t a
central personality or warm identity attached to people. Following this John
Stuart Mill philosophical style, you become your station in life. The rise of
the individual as an identity in the 20th Century has caused the
general public to reject such notions as being sour and unreasonable. Take a
look at Sheriff Bell.
The man starts the film discussing the long legacy of lawmen
in his family and throughout the course of
history. Some of them didn’t even have to wear a sidearm while doing their
duties. Everyone knew what to do and nobody dared to challenge the lines of
decency. Then, you stopped hearing the proper politeness from young people and
eventually you noticed that the Rising Tide was above your head threatening to
Reason #2 Why I Love Roger Deakins: Look at the Lighting Choices and how they frame Bardem in this shot. This makes me man wet.
Violence has always been the swift smack of order that sets
our lives straight. Civilizations have risen and fell on the battlefield. The
way of the world is decided by those willing to put their foot to the throat of
their enemy and stomp. Several people are chosen, called or drafted into the
service of violence and humanity has spent an eternity building upon the means
to inflict their will upon the unwilling. Much has been made of the unusual
craftsmanship behind Chigurh’s bolt-action silenced shotgun.
Going back to the notion of the Rising Tide, one must take a
look at this magnificent weapon. While most of the
lawmen and people like Moss are fine to deal with hunting rifles and revolvers,
Chigurh steps up his game. Hell, he even outperforms the Mexican cartel hired
by the unnamed employer situated in the nondescript skyscraper. What does this
mean? It means that Chigurh’s bit about the coin applies to himself as well and
he plans on making sure that he doesn’t end up on the wrong side of the coin.
Woody would like to go where everyone knows his name. But, the state’s got laws against getting kids to eat Samoas off your dong .
Right before the shootout at the roadside motel, we watch
Chigurh plot out his attack. He carefully takes off his shoes and begins to
walk through the scene. Playing upon the fact that all of the motel rooms are
laid out in a similar fashion; he can already perceive how the attack will go
down. Anton Chigurh knows this, because he is meant to know this. When he hits the
Mexicans waiting for Llewelyn, it’s a happy coincidence. But, it’s the first
brutal display of Chigurh using the rifle.
Before that, he had used the direct bolt-action of the air
pump. Sure, it was neat to see Anton blow out lock cylinders, but it lacked the
finesse of the mega scatter gun. The use of the special gun shows a lot of
Chigurh’s personality and his reasoning behind his kills. Chigurh is a brutal
force that wants to take you out with one hit. It’s a specialized weapon with
such finality in each blow that you can’t help but fall before it. Building
upon the argument for Utilitarianism from before, Chigurh has placed his belief
onto the tool that carries his profession. The lack of boundary between the man
and the tool in hand shows that there really isn’t a person underneath that
moptop anymore. There is only a concrete set of commands.
You seen Goonies, bitch? I was Brand. That little Hobbit motherfucker tied me off and ran off to fuck Martha Plimpton or some shit. All I’m saying is that there’s a code among guys that have been inside the Plimpton and you’re not honoring it.
Llewelyn Moss is an interesting character, as he intrudes
upon Chigurh’s order. I’ve spent the better part of the last week watching the
film and I still can’t decide whether or not this annoyed or enticed Chigurh. It’s
after the rifle blast to the right leg during the nighttime shoot-out at the
border town that leaves Chigurh bothered. The predator has been clipped and
reminded that his role in the grand scheme of violence has been challenged. Suddenly,
you begin to believe that there can be something behind Chigurh. He has an
identity that can be hurt, annoyed or even pushed so far as to brutally murder
Moss. After the
shootout, you’re reminded that Chigurh is above such things.
I’m not sure how many of you will remember this IKEA
commercial about a discarded lamp that Spike Jonze directed a few years ago.
The setup is to make the viewer identify with the lamp and wonder why someone
would throw it out with the garbage. Then, the narrator appears to remind you
that it’s only a lamp. Any value placed upon it is coming from the viewer and
that the product served its purpose. Moss makes the mistake of the concerned
viewer and becomes involved in a world that didn’t need him. So, he was
processed and removed. A decade down the line, Chigurh won’t remember Moss or
his little wife.
Yep, I’m going to drop off this satchel and I’ll be back to slam some motel pool pussy. After all, a man’s got to have some priorities.
Anton Chigurh will continue killing more and more people, as
long as it keeps him functioning. Eventually, Chigurh will get dropped by the
latest version of himself. But to think that someone or something will make him
pay for his deeds is childish. There are no great revenge stories and there is
no redemption. The only thing that exists in our world is order. Any attempt to
understand order outside of natural balance is a fallacy. That includes the
concept of the rule of Law. You can’t make anyone play by the rules that
weren’t setup by basic convention. Still, I’m left with one major question.
What is the cost of participating in this cycle of chaos and
order? Sheriff Bell starts off the film by explaining the necessity of a proper
mind in the face of a world gone to shit. An individual has to recognize the
weight and purpose of their choices in the world. We are more than utilitarian
roles designed to keep a larger machine working. Does not the concept of free
will keep us from falling into the traps of our basic selves?
Northern Exposure got really ugly in the later years.
The conundrum of that all-important question drives the
dreams of Sheriff Bell, as he contemplates the case involving Chigurh and Moss.
But, he does it through the same filter as most of the audience would. He uses
his life as a model to understand what has transpired. It’s the dream of
following his father into the mountains, yet never being able to catch up to
his fire. There are two ways to view
You don’t have to put your chips forward and meet something
that you don’t understand. A decent percentage of filmgoers didn’t understand
that or forgot about it when it came time for Sheriff Bell to arrest Chigurh in
the aftermath of the final motel shootout. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind
and what he had to do. But, it’s the choice of the matter that makes the film
and defines Sheriff Bell as the man that he can never be.
Reason #3 Why I Love Roger Deakins: Check out this Magic Hour action going on over here. I want to take that moment behind the Elementary School and get it pregnant. Hopefully, Woody won’t be there with Samoas on his dong.
Sometimes, you’ve got to put a tourniquet on it and stop the
bleeding. Everyone lives in a world out of their control, but they’re given the
conscious means to train it into an experience that they can handle. Those
people that don’t tame their worlds are doomed to die by the gaping mouths of
the beasts that populate it. Those people who will tame their lives are doomed
to live and wonder what they missed. Two sides of the same coin, flipping
No Country for Old Men comes to
with a standard single-disc release. The Coen Brothers’ filmography hasn’t been
that impressive on any home theater format, so you shouldn’t expect a
double-dip with more supplementals. The three featurettes included in the release
details the various aspects of the production and the literary origins of the
project. No one’s reinventing the wheel here, but it’s still something.
The A/V Quality on the
is a pitch perfect except for one scene. Towards the end of the film, when
Anton comes to visit Carla Jean, there’s some digital noise in the background.
She’s delivering this spiel about burying her mother when you notice that the
distance between the side of her head and the wall behind her is jittery. It
kills me how what could’ve been a top-notch transfer is ruined by a little
imperfection minutes before the film’s conclusion.
9.7 out of 10