Saturday, November 24, 2007

No Country for Old Men, Either

I held off reading Special K's post on the Coen Brother's recent offering until I could see the film myself. Generally speaking, its a better film than most major releases and there's plenty to appreciate about it but I found a good bit of it troubling. I was thankful that I had stashed my knitting in my purse or else I'd have not made it through.

K. has said that she is seriously considering refusing to see any movies without substantive contribtutions from female characters. My first reaction is one of curiosity...because some stories, interesting ones and good ones, are really not about women and writing women in is gratuitous and that pisses me off. What is more concerning and which K. brings out is that women characters are of little interest to Hollywood because of their perceived diminished value at the box office. Goddamn people---here we are in 2007 and we've still not figured out how to value what women do in our culture. Any attempt to portray modern relationships between women, or men and women, fails to produce interesting cinema (and by that, I mean, solid box office returns). So that's the bottom line in my opinion, until our culture values the contributions of women, their portrayal in our media will be skewed, or all together missing. At 44 years of age, I guess its time for me to just acquiesce and become an embittered old person---or continue to be pissed off and hope that will somehow make a difference.

But back to this movie. I think the movie might have done as well without the women--the contributions of the "players" that were female could have easily been made by other characters in the movie---gender completely irrelevant. I will at least give the CBs props for not sexing up the chicks for that illicit appeal---it would have been completely misplaced (!!).

Here's the thing with the Coen Brothers and this movie. Its a far cry from Fargo. In fact, it reminded me much more of Tarantino's collaboration with Roberto Rodriguez that produced From Dusk Till Dawn. And this is where I begin to question the Brothers. In my mind, what Tarantino USED to do best and which I think the Coen Brothers should keep in mind, is that he would push viewers to confront something very uncomfortable, hold their attention there until that moment they couldn't possibly take more and twist it into something ironic or farce-like. I think Tarantino has lost that delicate balance and for him, the carnage has become the humor. I jump of QT train at that point. Like the Coen Brothers get one more shot from me because there were several things I liked a lot about No Country for Old Men.

First, Woody Harrelson was HILARIOUS as Carson Wells and I think his performance is nearly a composite of his roles in Natural Born Killers and Cheers. His handling of this small role I thought was really skillful--in fact, it was the kind of performance we used to see a lot of in Coen Brothers movies. But boys and girls, Javier Bardem as Anton Chiugar, was really great, and pure CB genius. More great character work, less carnage, and this movie would be exceptional.

Finally, I think the movie captured period brilliantly. In fact, there were only two explicit clues about the period and I mused a good about on how it was fairly irrelevant....out in those old dusty Texas towns things are always worn out and could have been 1980 or 1997 just as easily.

In the end, I'm afraid this movie will appeal mostly to the generic blood-and-guts audience than the somewhat more sophisticated CB crowd. They'll probably make a ton more money---good for them, bad for us.


Special K said...

Oh, if only you'd read my post, you would have had somebody sock you in the face rather than see the movie! (:

Anonymous said...

I will loan you my CD copy of "No Country for Old Men", and ask you to listen uninterruptedly to a superb narration of Colman McCarthy's riveting tale, and then ask you if you might like to revisit your review of the CB's cinema version . . . . I believe they treated the original with admirable justice and fidelity. (You want to hear a scary Anton Chigur???) BTW, I have the CD version, as well as the hard copy, and an electronic (Audible) copy; have read it once, listened to it twice and have seen the movie. Obsessed? Pshaw - - - -o.m.-

Kathy said...

Okey dokey, old man. Will do. Stop by anytime with the goods.

What are you wearing?

Anonymous said...

brrrrr shiver shiver guess!