Ever watch a movie and when the credits roll you say to yourself, “That’s it?” Usually this happens when one of two things (or both) happen while watching a movie:
1) The story didn’t go in a direction that we had expected it to, and therefore in our own mind has an unsatisfactory ending. What? She dies?? I hate this movie!
2) There are unresolved questions that we think should’ve been resolved. Ummm… so is he the killer or not? And what was with that thing on the table they kept focusing on? They didn’t explain that. I hate this movie!
No Country for Old Men was this type of movie for me. That’s not to say I didn’t like it. In fact, one of my favourite movies of all time had this effect on me. But, in my old age, I’ve gotten a little more thoughtful and patient, even with movies. If it leaves me wondering, “What was that all about?” then I decide to take on the challenge of trying to find the answer to that question. Sometimes I read what others are saying about it. Sometimes I try to pick out recurring elements in the movie to hopefully find a theme or emphasis. Sometimes I pick those scenes that keep running through my brain and I ask myself why those scenes float to the top of my memory bank. I find this fun. Needless to say, I enjoyed doing this with No Country for Old Men.
I must admit, I don’t have this story, nor this film, figured out. Like some of you who commented, I did love the acting and the cinematography. My friend Josh, who is very knowledgeable about film, pointed out how good the writing was (something I tend to miss) and the capturing of the time period (VERY well done), and the value of it being multi-layered. This is a characteristic of movies that often goes over our heads–especially mine–and takes the average person more than one viewing to really appreciate.
I really should point out as well that the acting, as is true with all classics, is first-rate. Javier Bardem had me convinced that he was a scary psycho killer better than any other actor in any other movie. I was genuinely scared each time he got close to someone he was sneaking up on. Tommy Lee Jones was his usual awesome self, and so was Josh Brolin. I had never heard of Kelly MacDonald before this movie, but her final scene was one of those memorable scenes for me that kept showing up in my brain begging to be mulled over and chewed on continuously. All the actors made the movie so real. By the way, did you see The Hurt Locker? Of those who have, many found it frustrating because they weren’t sure where the story was going, and in the end, where it went. But one thing anyone who watches the movie can all agree on, you are on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. No Country has a similar (though different) effect on viewers. Once again, it’s one of those movies that makes you think. It makes you think about so many things. And think more. And more…
Congratulations No Country for Old Men. This is your week.
Hotel Rwanda… that movie left its stamp on me for a long time. It’s unbelievable that this could happen, and I am a firm believer in having those stories told–no avoided because they are “depressing” or not applicable to our own country or culture. I like Don Cheadle a lot, and he shines in this movie, proving that he can totally pull off a lead role.
And Bourne! Is there a better good guy? His near supernatural abilities and seeming omniscience makes you both adore and respect the character. You forget it’s Matt Damon and you are wrapped up in who is Jason Bourne. This movie has one of the best chase scenes that goes through a village, complete with jumping from building to building. If I was going to be in a dangerous place and could pick anyone I want for a bodyguard, I believe I would pick Jason Bourne even over Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills in Taken. Of course, these choices are second only to Roddy Piper. I mean, of course I would pick Hotrod first. Who wouldn’t?
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actor: Josh Brolin. I know I’ve seen excellent acting when I forget who the actor is. I just said this about Matt Damon in BU, but the same can be said of Cheadle, Bardem, Jones, and many others represented in these movies. I just think Brolin nailed this especially well in this movie.
Best Actress: Tie between Kelly MacDonald and Julia Stiles. When I first saw that Stiles was in BU, I was hesitant. I had just seen her in a teen movie where she’s a dancer and wasn’t convinced she was serious-action-film material. Well, she was.
Best quote: “There will be no rescue, no intervention force. We can only save ourselves. Many of you know influential people abroad, you must call these people. You must tell them what will happen to us… say goodbye. But when you say goodbye, say it as though you are reaching through the phone and holding their hand. Let them know that if they let go of that hand, you will die. We must shame them into sending help.”
In closing, let’s not forget that the psycho guy’s creepy hairstyle is one of the Maritimes’ few claims to fame in the world of movies. That’s right–it was a New Brunswick hair stylist who was behind the most unmistakable trademark of the movie. His name is Paul Leblanc. Man, can you get a more New Brunswick name than that? It would have been far cooler to have this province represented in John Travolta’s hair in Grease, Bo Derek’s cornrows in 10, Princess Leia’s giant-headphones look, or even Nicholas Cage’s mullet in Con Air. But we’ll take it.