Posts Tagged ‘Cormac McCarthy’

No Country for Old Men: A critical response

November 30, 2007

No Country for Old Men a critical response

There are SPOILERS here! 

I find that sometimes to further infiltrate the skin of a movie one must read other’s interpretations to help resolve ones own thoughts, and then to create a dialogue. Jim Emerson at Scanners has recently put forth many posts about the Coen Brother’s latest film No Country for Old Men, and I’ll let him say many of the things I could say, as I agree with most of what he puts forth, which can be read in its entirety here. He states with eloquence some of the ideas that permeate the film and some of the problems he sees in other critics interpretations of the film. He begins with this assesment before moving into the film itself.

“No Country for Old Men” has been called a “perfect” film by those who love it and those who were left cold by it. Joel and Ethan Coen have been praised and condemned for their expert “craftsmanship” and their “technical” skills — as if those skills had nothing to do with filmmaking style, or artistry; as if they existed apart from the movie itself. Oh, but the film is an example of “impeccable technique” — you know, for “formalists.” And the cinematography is “beautiful.” Heck, it’s even “gorgeous.” …

But what do those terms mean if they are plucked out of the movie like pickles from a cheeseburger? How is something “beautiful” apart from what it does in the film? (See uncomprehending original-release reviews of “Barry Lyndon” and “Days of Heaven,” for example, in which the “beautiful” was treated as something discrete from the movie itself.) When somebody claims that a movie overemphasizes the “visual” — whether they’re talking about Stanley Kubrick or Terence Malick or the Coens — it’s a sure sign that they’re not talking about cinema, but approaching film as an elementary school audio-visual aid. When critics (and viewers) refer to the filmmakers’ application of “craft,” “technique,” and “style” (can these things be applied, casually or relentlessly, with a spatula?) without consideration of how these expressions function in the movie, we’re all in trouble. A composition, a cut, a dissolve, a movement — they’re all manifestations of craft (or skill), technique (the systematic use of skill), style (artistic expression).

 Great points before he goes further into the themes of the film.

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No Country for Old Men: The Review

November 29, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Over the years I’ve learned that safety is relative, unfortunately through no experience of my own. Instead I’ve watched some of my closest friends deal with some of the worst incidents that many times occurred in broad day light. Anywhere, any place, any time, anything can happen, and it feels like while this is happening, God or whatever being you believe in, the one being that can perhaps keeps you safe, is always a step behind. But those things that happen, those horrible things, don’t they feel like they’re getting worse. That the evil in the world is becoming braver and using more extreme methods to produce the carnage they want to produce? Where does that leave the people who came from a simpler time?

That is the basic, blanketing idea behind the title of No Country for Old Men, but as far as ideas in the movie goes, you’ll find yourself chasing each line, looking desperately for meaning in every word uttered and image seen. That’s how well crafted the Coen Brother’s newest crime film outing is. Like Fargo they take advantage of there setting, this time Texas, and create a mood with their characters unparralelled by other filmmakers. They’re fluency in film language has been perfected to the point over the years that even in shots that other directors would find a waste of effort, there’s a stark realism, sometimes those things are so realistic they come off as surrealistic. In every shot a story is being told, or an emotion is being conveyed, or an idea is being sought after.

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“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

September 21, 2007

the roadI had heard his name before…Cormac McCarthy. “Oh, yes”, I thought, “that Matt Damon horse movie that was all but forgotten at the box office.” But the description in the best of 2006 section of Entertainment Weekly caught my eye, and it was their “number one pick of the year!” I was enthralled by the idea of a post apocalyptic world in which a father transports his son by foot across the barren country side, it reminded me of that Japanese film series “Lone Wolf and Cub” and of something I was going to undertake writing at one point. As I was waiting for “The Road” to come to me in the mail, I found out that it had been added to Oprah’s Book Club. I cringed! Then reminded myself I was interested in it long before she got her grubby hands all over it. And grubby the book can become as well, with a single unwashed touch it’s reflective black surface can easily be tarnished until you’re looking at a shadowy disfigured reflection of yourself, completely unrecognizable. (more…)