Ken's Review: No Country for Old Men - Filmmaking At Its Finest
by Ken Evans
November 10, 2007
Anticipation for a certain film can sometimes drive you crazy. I have felt that anticipation twice so far this year. The first time was during the months leading up to Spider-Man 3. The problem with all that anticipation is that it also causes your expectations for that film to be almost unreachable. Unfortunately, even if my expectations had been low, Spider-Man 3 wouldn't have met them and is probably the biggest let down I have ever experienced as far as movies go. The second time I have felt that kind of anticipation this year is in the months leading up to No Country for Old Men. Thankfully, the outcome was much different.
No Country for Old Men is the latest film from the directing duo the Coen Brothers, who happen to be my favorite directors. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is your average Joe who stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong in the middle of the barren Texas plains. In the midst of guns and dead bodies, Llewelyn finds a satchel full of two million dollars which he steals, figuring that money will get him and his wife out of the trailer park and into a better life. Enter Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is a hit man hired to track down the money and bring it back. Llewelyn realizes that he is being hunted and starts running for his life. Police chief Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is also brought into the mix when all of the dead bodies, left in Anton's path, start to surface.
Forgive my short plot synopsis, but I don't want to spoil any moments that you haven't already seen in the trailer. What I can tell you is that I absolutely loved this film. Any of my friends know how much I was looking foreword to this film and all of my anticipation and expectations were met if not exceeded. The directing, acting performances, cinematography, soundtrack, and story were all top notch and beyond exceptional. If I could have turned around and walked back into the theater to watch it again I would have. Unfortunately I have to wait until it's actually released in theaters.
Javier Bardem, who I had never seen before, was out of this world amazingly evil. I mean seriously, this guy will go down in history as the most evil, creepy guy in any film ever. He dons some kind of pressurized air gun and a silenced shotgun killing people without the slightest emotion. As evil as this guy is you can't help but think his character is cool, and as much as you want him dead, you also want to see him take as much screen time as possible and do his thing. I'm not going to lie to you, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin had outstanding, possibly even Oscar worthy, performances, but Javier Bardem is who you come out of the theater remembering.
Like I said earlier the Coen Brothers are my favorite directors. They both wrote and directed No Country for Old Men and just like all of their other films, they have made a masterpiece. The Coens, besides having a knack for writing and directing, have the ability to inspire incredible performances out of actors and actresses alike. Although I never thought the Coens lost it, I even loved The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty, No Country for Old Men reminds me most of their earlier work in films like Fargo, Miller's Crossing, and Blood Simple.
If No Country for Old Men is already playing in your area then definitely put this at the top of your list. If you have to drive to another town to see it then do that. If you have been anticipating this film as much as I was then I promise it won't only meet your expectations, but will exceed them. This is not only the Coen Brothers at the top of their game, but it is filmmaking at its absolute finest.
Reader Feedback - 35 Comments
I can't wait to see this film. I highly recommend Cormac McCarthy's novel that the movie is based on---excellent writing.
Ryan on Nov 10, 2007
The theater near me is playing it, probably will see it tomorrow hopefully!
Ryan on Nov 10, 2007
ken......LOL :::shock::: may be I'm a foreign film snob....yes I am ....you should really check out Bardem's previous stuff....collateral, before night falls, dancer upstairs (malkovich's film), sea inside, dude....his SPAIN-ard movies are amazing. He is Spain's Bogart. anyway, will see 'no country' soon. any thoughts on atonement???
scar on Nov 11, 2007
We saw this today and were blown away - enjoy it simply as a chase flick or something alot more - either way- you won't be disappointed- Tommy Lee and Javier- no surprises-they are great- but see this for Josh- what a breakout for him- the Coen Bros have done it again! Right up there with Fargo.
michael tyrrell on Nov 11, 2007
saw this in an imax in nyc when it opened last week and despite being a very dark film with bodies flying off the screen at you, this is THE real reel deal. amazing dialogue, characters, settings and photography. a real feast. also a long time coen bro fan, I found this far less hopeful and more fateful than leaving either blood simple [my favorite] or fargo. any coen fan will appreciate this work though and have you checking on your larry's when done.
michael a on Nov 21, 2007
Noticed you mentioned the soundtrack....what soundtrack? This movie was totally void of it. Which was one of the things i enjoyed. No music except for the mariachi part. Great great film.
Heckle on Nov 26, 2007
this was no movie for sane men. it was really that bad...a pretentious attempt at postmodernist film. "we're the cohen brothers and we can make a film that doesn't give you what you expect and it still sucks balls." i'm tired of the same old tommy lee jones character of the gruff country sheriff, and i'm tired of david lynch wannabes. the cohen brothers made no attempt to translate any of the emotion of the novel into the film, and it just ended up being what it is...a waste of ten dollars. you can see everything in the movie coming from a mile away, from shigurs killings to his car wreck. i mean, jarvier bardem was cool, but not cool enough to carry the entire film. and talk about some worthless, boring monologues! ken was dead on about beowulf...i suggest you go see it instead.
joe on Nov 27, 2007
This movie was HORRIBLE!!! I saw it tonight and i not only want my money back, but also two and a half hours of my LIFE back!!! This movie pissed everyone in the theatre off, if you liked the b.s. ending of the soprano's you'll like this. If you like movies who make what SHOULD be major plot twists a sidenote, you'll like this. The guy next to me fell asleep, my fiance fell asleep, i WISH i had fallen asleep...
jimmy on Dec 9, 2007
I have to say though, the acting in this movie was not the problem. I think the actors were one of the two bright spots, the other being the kid at the end sayin " look at that f*ckin BONE!" But i insist, DO NOT GO SEE THIS MOVIE! DO NOT RENT THIS MOVIE, hell dont even watch this on HBO, if you see this dvd laying on the sidewalk, pee on it, thats what this movie feels like it does to you when you watch it. You walk out of the movie asking more questions than when you walked in. I wish saw Beowulf or anything thing else.
jimmy *again* on Dec 9, 2007
You people need to get over your esteemed view of yourselves. So what that this movie has a bleak perspective and that you were able to pick up on a philosophy running throughout the movie? This story was downright awful as proved by its rediculous closure. In the movie "Commando" with Arnold Shwarzenegger are we not captivated by the stories ethos that one man can overcome the greatest odds and will himself to victory? Many movies have a theme that is not explicit, and the fact that most of you critics have given legitamacy to this piece of sh*t movie because it has a message you feel is different or thought provoking proves that you are more interested in showing the public and your "artsy" cronies that you can think at a higher level than your are in realistically evaluating a movie for its purpose in telling an engaging story. How come in these reviews there is no mention of characters which are superfluous to the plot like Tommy Lee Jones who takes up half of the movie or Woody Harrelson who also added nothing. Of course, the ending should be infamous and if the public ever stops assuming that the critics are smarter than them it could hopefully prove to be the chopping block for every critic in America who gave this crap a good review. In the meantime I hope all of the critics gathered in coffee houses enjoy their shared comradarie brought upon by their pretentiousness and mutual inability to articulate why this movie was good.
Tommy Lee Jones on Dec 10, 2007
What the hell is going on with these comments? This movie is good because it's more suspenseful than 99% of the thrillers out there. This movie is good because of the incredible acting performances throughout. This movie is good because of the beautiful cinematography and the LACK of a soundtrack (I don't know what Ken is talking about in the review). Sure, the movie is a bit too disjointed, leaving the scenes with Tommy Lee Jones at the end feeling tacked on and boring, but that's the only time the "no country for old men" theme is truly delved into. Disregarding those scenes, you're still left with 3/4 of a movie that is an unbelievably intense chase film with a villain for the ages.
CajoleJuice on Dec 11, 2007
This movie is PERFECT - a perfect example of how pretentious critics can cause intelligent people to waste their time and money on a piece of crap. This movie should ONLY appeal to a tiny minority of dim-witted human beings who enjoy watching other human beings drown in their own blood, while kidding themselves that they are enjoying some kind of postmodernist, deep, meaningful, radical, anti-establishment, original movie with a meaning so deeply hidden that no one has a clue what it actually is. It will appeal to all the pretentious snobs who have no clue what the hidden meaning could be, but don't want to open themselves up to potential ridicule by admitting they don't get it. There is NOTHING to get. Talk about the emperor having no clothes! This is a beautifully acted, beautifully filmed slice of nothing at all. In fact, it's giving it too much to call it crap - crap is at least an important part of the cycle of life, whereas this film is simply meaningless and anti-life. You guessed it right - I didn't like it. Do not see this movie - it's a waste of time and money. Another pissed-off Joe
Joe Goodwill on Dec 26, 2007
This film IS A JOKE. Suspense??? Yeah, anyone can make a movie about suspense WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT A PAYOFF!!! Waste of money. Waste of time. Cop-out is right. You know what makes a film good? When someone is clever enough to write an ending that matches the rest of the film. Which does not happen here. Not edgy. Not clever. No larger point. Just. Plain. Lame. Any jack@ss can write a movie that is full of "suspense" because the bad guy is sooo bad you don't know how the protagonist can beat the odds. And then low and behold, he doesn't beat the odds!! Ooohh. So clever. Someone give them the award for best picture. Not.
Cohen Bros. Suck Arse on Dec 30, 2007
People, just because this movie is quiet, thoughtful and filled with meaning doesn't mean it's trying to fool you or being "clever." It just is what it is: brilliant cinema. You don't get it, you don't get it. No problem. The rest of us are glad there's a movie this incredible out there. (And for the record, I HATED The Sopranos ending - and love this one. Simply put, one is terrible, one is fantastic.)
Anti-Moron on Dec 30, 2007
How could you POSSIBLY love this ending and HATE the sopranos? ITS THE SAME THING! This ending was not original, it sucked, and it pissed people off. This film was NOT smarter than me. Sorry, but i'll never ever want to see this again. You give us a great villian, a great hero, a great story, then it starts going downhill when you throw in a couple of big stars just to have them in your movie if for ANY reason (tommie lee jones and woody) then you kill off the hero as if it were a sidenote! and then you.....WAIT A MINUTE!....i FINALLY get it, this is supposed to be a COMEDY!!!!!!! Of course, why else would it not make any f'n sense!??? Its like those Deep Thoughts on SNL
Jimmy on Dec 30, 2007
Terrific film. Best of the year, hands down. It's not pretentious, or trying to be smart. It's just a great story.
Andre on Dec 31, 2007
This movie was pure brilliance. As for the ignorant comments here, please note there is a difference between an emperor with no clothes and a peasant with no eyes.
Anton Chigure on Jan 1, 2008
I'm on the fence about this film. Having sit through it twice, it still fails to impress me, and live up to the hype everyone is giving it. It had great characters, but failed to fully develope them. It had a great story, yet the Coens chose to kill off some of the main characters off-screen. WTF? I understood where they got the title, and even the ending, although it didn't really fit the overall theme of the movie itself. To some degree, I felt like I was watching two seperate movies. One being about a old Sheriff, longing for the old days, and the second being about a killer hunting the guy who took his money. Did anyone else feel this way? There was so much potential there to make this as good as the hype, and critical acclaim. Instead the Coens left us with an ending worse than the Bruce Willis flick "Unbreakable". If you want a movie that truly deserves to be in the "Best Picture" category, check out "Gone Baby Gone". It has character development, a great story, plot twists, exceptional acting, and it comes complete with an actual ending.
TCox on Jan 8, 2008
"Me thinks thee doth protest too much," is an oft-cited quote that applies here. The film is a brilliant critique of modernist reality (and thus postmodern) that modernists ignore, and hid from. Modernism thought to create the autonomous hero who always wins; but in the real world we know better. If you want the white hats always winning over the guys in the black hats, well grow up and get into the real world - or go see all the old Rocky pics. On the other hand, you might follow Jone's character Ed Tom to that fire burning somewhere out there in the darkness lit by his father (in the dream) and instead of complaining that you weren't "entertained," do something about bringing a little of that fire back into the real world where a lot of cold people sit in the darkness wondering what its all about. Is it all about merely the flip of a quarter - pure chance? Is it Chirgurh's fatalistic drive to kill, a drive he can only avoid through the flip of a of a coin someone else calls? Or is it really that he kills not because he has to, but just because he wants to? And as for the ending, is there redemption for the devil himself? Why didn't Chigurh kill Ed Tom? What about the compassion shown to him by the kid with the shirt? You tell me. After all, the real story is not in the film but right in the theater in your reaction to it. You are the story line. And judging by the anger stirred in some of you, I would say the Coen Brothers succeeded brilliantly. Again, "Me thinks thee doth protest too much!" You give yourselves away, guys!
zw cephas on Jan 12, 2008
I thought this film was amazing. I dont agree with the talk of tommy lee playing the small part. he is actually the spine of the film and flits in and out of every main character in it. He is trying to keep up with the modern world and cant make any sense of it. Another point i'd like to make is that i think it also plays on 'Randomness' like the story tommy lee tells about charlie and how he ended up shooting himself when he was trying to kill a cow. (the bullet came back off and hit him in the shoulder.) The point being. no matter how certain the situation seems, something is going to come out of no where and hit you in the face. Hence the car crash at the end, the mexican shootout that kills our hero and the bad guy that got away after all that killing but nearly got killed by a coincidencental car crash on a completely quiet street. I thought the film was brilliant. i admit, its not for everybody but a few of the posts here are taking it over the top. Well done Cohens.
Ross Whelan on Jan 21, 2008
Well, let me just sum up all the previous reviews /comments into a short statement. This film is a beautifully filmed Spagethetti Western - the type you saw in th 1970's, except it is updates a bit with modern film equipment & techinques, editing etc.... It is still a story of the common-garden variety. A plot about a loner killer, stolen money etc...Nothing new here ( I am sure the original book had a lot more going for it). The Coen bros set out to make a great movie to beat their own "Brother were art..." They spent sooo much time with the littlest details, some were 100% superflous to the plot ( Like the Chicken truck scene), they labored hard with detailed close ups and step-by-step action. They sweated over the suspense and the chose their dialogue reall well...... and it was a thrilling film for the first 3/4s of it. EXCEPT... and i am sure the Brothers will agree with this - they realized that if they were to continue with such flowery detail with this story, the film will be running at maybe 5-6 hours long like the old Russian marathon movies. So, quick... shorten the plot, kill off everyone, no need to explain who killed who, or why a badly injured & bleeding psycho can make his way from a dusty town to the city gain access to the big mob boss, kill him, then return to the old New Mexico border town where an old bored sheriff can't decide if he should do his duty and catch the homicidal mainia or just go fishing. The ending is an abysmal failure - it doen't fit into any artistic ending (the Soprano ending left you with something)a mock of a mockery - I know the coesn didn't run of money to finish it, but i think they ran of patience with their own "produce". How can anyone build up the main characters (brolin, Harelsen) and then drop them withhout the slightest concern to the plot??? Why spend time with unnecessary detail when it could have been alloted to the main framework. If they had bothered stitching the mini- plots together, it would have made a pretty cool fil - certaily NOT oscar materil. As is, it is a waste of time, waste of money and an insult to intelligence especially since the have paid heavily to promote it and have critics raise it to "classic" level. All the kids hated it.... and that's agood sign. Just leaves the pompous self-admiring critics to shove down everyone's throat.
Ether Cohen on Jan 30, 2008
This movie was really about a coward (Tommy Lee Jones). The whole movie builds to a controntation between Jones and Emo-Psycho. How is that resolved? Jones pisses his pants and retires. The killer goes free. If Jones' character had faced evil and lost, perhaps the movie might be interesting, but in actuallity he retires and whines that he dreams. If you think this is a story worthy of telling, you're a nut job or dim-bulb. And I haven't even critisized the impossibility of it all...
Bozo on Feb 16, 2008
Hmm. I loved this movie the first time I saw it, and now that I've seen it again, I still love it. I love the way it portrays west Texas police in 1980 as reasonable people who carry weapons only because they're required to, unlike our modern cops who all seem to be armor-wearing muscle-headed, police-jargon-spewing morons. I have to reply to the last comment. Jones' character did face evil, when he explored the crime scene. He didn't lose or win, like so much in real life. I think the conflicts are resolved off-camera. The movie establishes that it's going to tell the story that way by leaving major plot points unshown, like Lewellen's death. In any story, there are only so many options that the characters can choose, and, when our story reflects reality, usually we have just one option. So we know what happens to Lewellen even though it's not shown, and we know what happens to his wife. I've not read the book, and I don't know if Odessa is in Terell county, but I have an idea that Chigur had to leave that money in the wrecked car, Sheriff Bell got the money, and now he's waiting for Chigur to track him down so he can rid the world of him. Bell's dreams are foreshadowing a death the movie doesn't reveal, his own.
cuttysark9712 on Feb 27, 2008
I fail to see how the Coens - - or anyone for that matter - - can be considered geniuses for reproducing someone else's ideas "faithfully." They are skillful technicians who know how to make a buck from time to time. The Coens can be studied for their tilted (pretentious?) views of the world, but this wasn't even a view of their own. I was disappointed in them and in the movie. The story implodes like a rotting pumpkin. It could have been so much more. I consider the film to have been a letdown, a hype magnet, and a waste of my time.
Lazlo on Mar 7, 2008
this movie started as another epic, with amazing potential in the sense of "I'm getting lost in this film and can't wait till the next scene!!!!" BUT, the ending absolutely BLOWS!! we as movie watchers want to get lost in a film, want to be part of a fantasy, and we need an ending. if there's a part 2 or 3, that's great, but don't leave people hanging on a shitty ending that makes no sense. filmgoers want to see a movie, and at the end, the bottom line is satisfaction. the only way I can be satisfied is with an ending, happy or sad, or if I have to make certain conclusions on my own, that's fine, but what the Cohen's did was cut the end off, I'm sure i n the name of ART. I'm tired of "genius wannabes", just show me a good flick!!
joe on Mar 11, 2008
ken evans, you're obviously an aspiring actor or just a worshipper. you have to remember my friend that 1) a lot of people in the movie business are there only because of connections and money, not talent, and 2) it's the educated public who are in a position to assess these projects...not starry eyed wannabes like you or the fat, bald movie critics who think that, by influencing the ignorant and impressionable masses weild some sort of opinion. please don't try and justify the characters or the ending with your artsy fartsy explanations, people are PAYING to watch this stuff, we are the customers! and expect a good or excellent experience! you have to go with your gut feeling, and if the movie is a let down then its a let down. like I said earlier, the movie was awesome till the end.
joe on Mar 11, 2008
This movie is a piece of garbage. With all of its praise and all the critics in love with it, I can only say that this is a clear case of "The emperor has no clothes" people. Wake up and smell the rotting garbage folks. Hollywierd no longer knows how to make good movies. The academy only cares about artsy fartsy.
John on Apr 22, 2008
What a waste of time. Almost the worst movie we ever saw. Who got the money? Why did the killer go free? What the heck was the sheriff's role in this? Lots of blood and guts and nothing else. No ending. The Coen brothers showed about as much emotion at the awards as this movie showed in us. C'mon Hollywood - give us better for the money. Jim on Apr 22, 2008
Simibikaki on Apr 22, 2008
I just got done watching this film and decided to search for a better explanation of what i just saw. I read all of these posts with varying opinions on this movie, and after all this time, i just now realized that this film made me interested enough to get on the computer and start researching it. If anything that is pretty impressive, but i still am uncertain how to feel about this movie. First of all the this was based on a book i haven't read so that says that we didn't get all of the story here, and also that the Cohen brothers don't deserve as much credit as they got. As for the movie, i'm having trouble deciding what to think of it. As just a glimpse into the life of all those involved into this movie, i thought it was great. Like peeking into a keyhole and seeing a conversation, then trying to figure out what it all means afterwards, thats what this movie did to me. I know i just saw things happen, and i don't know if there is something i missed or if, like the 25th hour, its more of a choose your own ending type of deal. Other than the content of the movie, it was filmed beautifully and the lack of soundtrack was awesome. The only other soundtrackless work i can think of off the top of my head is NBC's The Office, which helps make the show a lot more awkward. No Country For Old Men is a confusing piece of work but with all that it made me feel throughout watching it, and especially after it ended, i can really see why it won best picture. And someone mentioned that Gone Baby Gone should have won, and i really have to strongly disagree with that, considering i knew the entire movie 20 minutes in, but the scene on the rainy highway was one of the coolest things i've ever seen.
Gary Mosblech on Apr 29, 2008
Who has the money???? what's your theory?
Cali Girl on May 24, 2008
When did the mother get killed? Who killed Brolin? I can't believe this won so many awards??
spygirl on May 27, 2008
Smarter than this movie... on Aug 27, 2009
This movie is the best that I watched recently. The plot is very original and intriguing. I was surprised by the fact that Tommy Lee Jones did nothing during whole movie, he was just appearing here and there, but he didn't affected development of story at all.
Introspective on Sep 27, 2009
To quote Hitchcock.."American Audiences want to be spoon fed." Looking at a lot of these comments "Who got the money? Who killed this guy? Who did this? Why did the killer get away?" It seems he was obviously correct. The movie isn't confusing at all. Everything is needed to understand the whole story. The film starts in the middle of the story and references both the opening and ending of the story. It's there but there is a little technique people seem to be forgetting these days "Paying attention". Listen to what is said, think about it and then apply it. Now those that say "I want an ending." You got one. It was told to you. It wasn't shown. Maybe people want to be spoon fed instead of using their imagination or brain for that matter. It's pretty sad how unimaginative audiences have become.
Everett on Nov 7, 2010
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