No Country for Old Men

 

Do you like violent movies?
I don’t.

I absolutely detest the whole idea of the new genre of violence in movies such as Saw, Hostel, and other horror movies so dubbed ‘Torture Porn’. In fact such movies make me question the nature of the audiences that populate the seats of theaters nationwide, and their desire to see such horrendous stuff. It makes my knees quiver to ever contemplate that humans actually enjoy seeing that kind of treatment of other humans. I abhor the thought that some impressionable person will see this stuff and not think twice about re-creating it in real life down the road.

If I feel so strongly about this… why in the world do I like No Country for Old Men?? I really needed to study my opinion about this movie and find out why I liked it, and why I thought it was worthwhile.

No Country for Old Men won Best Picture of the Year at the 2008 Oscar Awards, and Ashland Street Cinema has re-released it on the big screen as an encore showing. I had wavered in my desire to watch it for awhile, but last Sunday my friend Jackie and I decided to risk the $7.50 and watch the movie. No Country for Old Men is also out on video now.

Based on previous reviews, the reputation of the Cohen Brothers, and the word on the street, I certainly wasn’t expecting butterflies and flowers.  However, what I saw and experienced has certainly made me think hard about my reaction, and why after it was over my immediate reaction, was ‘Wow! That’s a good movie!’

The violent crimes portrayed in ‘No Country’ were utterly senseless, completely without even sympathetic inference for the main character, Chigurh, who was played flawlessly by Javier Bardem. This character was subtle and frightening in his lack of conscience and complete amorality. His whole persona was ‘death’, and the advance thereof was certain, steady, random and without pity.

While out hunting, Lewellyn Moss stumbles upon the remains of an old-fashioned shoot out in the desert. A drug deal gone bad, there are bodies everywhere, complete with a pickup load of heroin and a black bag full of crisp $100 bills..a lot of $100 bills. Knowing better, but deciding against his better judgement, Lewellyn swipes the cash for himself.

Sherriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones)is the law man that draws the undesirable task of tracking the assassin, Lewellyn, and the money through the blood bath that ensues across the country and down into Mexico. Sherriff Bell is a man with history and he’s troubled by it. His father and grandfather had been law men before him and had defended their territory from generations of outlaws and criminals.

While shocking in its severity and random nature, the violence portrayed in the film didn’t feel gratuitous, only grimly realistic. One of the reasons I liked ‘No Country’ is its perceptive commentary on the nature of man, the nature of violence and the nature of greed. It showed the turning point in history (circa 1980) and the drug trade, how it affected a culture and changed forever the way police fought against the oncoming tsunami of crime and drug abuse. There was no turning back the tide of the future. ‘No Country’ is a snapshot in time and place. Whether, in the city or in the desert, a new hard generation had taken the place of the old guard and swept away any authority the previous lawmen might have had. Making it, indeed… no country for old men.

If you’re looking for a good Triple play sometime, and enjoy this same genre, I highly recommend the following to accompany ‘No Country for Old Men. Prepare yourself… you’re in for quite an afternoon.

‘The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada’ 2005, Directed by Tommy Lee Jones, starring ‘himself’, Mike Norton and Dwight Yoakam

‘Lonestar’ 1996, Directed by Jon Sayles, starring Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Pena and Kris Kristofferson.