3.26.2008

No Country for Old....Umm...What Was I Talking About Again?

I just saw the Coen Brothers No Country for Old Men, and I have this to ask our BHouse Readers:

What does NCFOM bring to the "film noir genre/Coen Brothers oeurve" that Blood Simple and Fargo haven't already?

In my view: nothing.

Look, this a well shot, well acted, and mostly well constructed movie...but for what? The main villain is inhuman, the main character gets forgotton about, and Tommy Lee Jones is boring as hell. And the film clearly wants to make a larger moral point about our current situation, by setting it in the past, but what's the point?

They say Tommy Lee Jones is the "center" of the movie. From my standpoint he's virtually superfluous, whereas Woody Harrelson's character was completely superfluous. Tommy Lee's "investigations" are ineffective, and the movie glosses so quickly over his decision to start wearing a gun, while allowing him to pontificate seemingly hours on end, well, dang, it just don't make no sense to me.

It looked like this movie was going to focus on the "how"--for example, Moss's tracking down of the "last man standing" gave you a pretty good idea of how to track a man, while the gunfight between Chirgurh and Moss was very well done and detailed. But then we get no idea how Chigurh found Woody Harrelson, for example, or why he didn't head on down Mexico way to discharge Moss from the hospital his own self. Given that he already knew the Mexicans had a tracker and were hard on the case.

What else I find kind of laughable about Tommy Lee's pontificating, is that the Old West is a place known for its violence and wildness. Massacres of Native Americans, settlers, Mexicans, gunfights at or around corrals, cross-border excursions, hanging men for stealing horses, being stranded out in the desert and dying or getting snakebitten--the milieu of the movie is not some innocent Eden, but "a hard place for hard men".

Watching this movie makes me want to read Cormac McCarthy's book, in part because I want to make sure that the author of Blood Meridian and All the Pretty Horses is not THAT naive.

P.S. Does the coin flip thing seem a little weird, given Tommy Lee's coin-flipping role as Two-Face?

3 comments:

Dan said...

I actually just saw this movie too and was somewhat underwhelmed. Ron Silliman posted about this just the other day over on his blog: http://ronsilliman.blogspot.com/

I love the Cohen brothers but this is definitely not their best, sorry to say.

aaron said...

that was a great article, said it better than me! Now I definitely want to see "3 Burials for Miguel Long Spanish Name" in which Tommy Lee Jones plays what seems like the same character, but smarter.

MattKP said...

Eh, I though it was cool. I cared about the dude with the case full of money, and liked that the movie messed with expectations of how the movie 'should' have played out (ending the hunter/hunted thing prematurely and without fanrare.)

Barton Fink is my favorite Coen brothers film.