Monday, April 12, 2010

Top Ten # 4 - No Country for Old Men

If I had to pick one single word to describe this movie, it would be hard. This is a hard movie, set in hard country with hard characters. If I had to pick another word to describe it, it would be different. This is a very different movie, with nearly no score, very little dialogue and very little action. Combine these two and it becomes one of the best movies I've ever seen.

Adapted from Cormac McCarthys novel of the same name by Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men is a very simple and stark look at the lives of 3 interconnected (but never interacting) men in hard Texas country. Simple is key here; as stated above there is nearly no music and very little dialogue, but surprisingly the film doesn't fall flat on its feet because of this. Rather, it lends strength to an already impressive story about the perils of the drug dealing business.

The big talent here are Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin, and each of them bring some very impressive performances to the table; Jones with his rough old-time police personality, Brolin with his Texas-bred laid-back (but not lazy) mannerisms and Bardem with his absolutely chilling portrayal of a psychotic and slightly philosophical hit man that would give Hannibal Lector the willies. All three do superb jobs here and completely flesh out the characters from McCarthys novel.

Cinematography plays a key role here; clever and interesting shots and angles are used to set the mood where music normally would fill in. Action sequences are minimal but very effective when they do appear. The dialog,while also minimal, is superb and one of my favorite aspects of the film. Tommy Lee Jones narration is something I could listen to all day, but really all dialogue here is fantastic (as is to be expected, since most of the script came directly from the book with little or no changes).

While this is a minimalistic movie in the normal sense of dialogue, music and cinematography, it brilliantly sets the mood of this very bleak picture. For reasons that seem hard to describe, this film works perfectly in every way. The Coen brothers really outdid themselves with this one, and its slowly become one of my all time favorite movies. While it is an extremely violent and bleak movie, it also retains a sense of almost relaxation; the lack of music and fast moving action shots really allow the movie to flow at a very even and relaxed pace which I love. It makes the movie easy to watch, in spite of the fact that its so non-conventional. Watch this movie and really give it your full attention; if you do your in for one interesting ride.

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