No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray + DVD-Video)
B+/C+ Sound: B+/B- Extras: C+ Film: B
toying around with commercial fare that did not work (The Ladykillers remake, Intolerable
Cruelty) came the dreaded feeling that The Coen Brothers were bored with
filmmaking, may have given up on doing anything seriously good again and
another disaster had befallen the film industry, an industry more interested in
franchises than films about something.
That is especially the case in any film about mature subjects that deal
enough with reality to be adult and complex enough to be challenging.
first heard about No Country For Old Men
being made, including its cast and the reputation of the original material, we
wondered if it would be a return to form.
It would be their first-ever adaptation of material from another medium
(give or take the controversy over Miller’s
Crossing, but that’s another essay) and it was not comic material. With The Coen’s, that does not mean it is
going to follow that the film would be as serious as the print source, though
you could do that as Stanley Kubrick proved with Dr. Strangelove. However,
the result was their best film in many years and resulted in a critical and
commercial triumph that said they were back!
lawman (Josh Brolin in an easy to underestimate performance) discovers an
isolated area where a bunch of Mexican men have been massacred in their trucks,
then finds only one alive and more intriguingly, $2 Million in a briefcase not
far from a big truckload supply of illegal drugs. Taking the money, there are many on the
lookout for the one and they will eventually figure out it is he who has it,
including a psychotic killer (Javier Bardem as one of the screen’s recent great
villains) and he needs to figure out how to take the money and vanish. It does not help that he has a wife who is
still very close to her mother.
midst of this is an older lawman (Tommy Lee Jones) investigating everything as
the bodies pile up and it is carnage that forces him to wonder about life and
the future. Still, with a younger
colleague at his side, he delves deeper into the events between the
Texas/Mexico border and it will lead some involved beyond just the geographical
thing about this film is that it is very smart, is not animated radio, does not
spoon-feed the audience with clichés and not only makes the audience pay
attention, but gives them plenty of reasons to do so because this is so
good. Of course, many got stuck on the
ending, which many found sudden, but that proves that many were not paying
attention or (as was the case with the conclusion of The Sopranos) was not the clichéd shootout/peak ending with a tired
payoff. Instead, we get an ending with
irony and a profound point or two that is an extravagant, existential gesture
that actually pays off if you think about it.
It still may not be satisfying to some and I had some issues with it I
cannot go into without spoiling the film, but since the film does not have a
false sense of closure, to suddenly expect one in such a realistic narrative
landscape is naïve. No Country For Old Men is a winner!
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot by the amazing Director of
Photography Roger Deakins, A.S.C., B.S.C., who once again delivers some amazing
shots and uses them to tell the story in ways only images can. In addition, he is one of the only persons
among hundreds who actually knows how to use digital internegative (DI)
technology with any imagination or ideas and here, he slightly discolors
outdoor scenes and does some other things with nuance that is as impressive as
his work on Martin Scorsese’s The
Aviator. The anamorphically enhanced
DVD tries to compete, but just can’t cut it.
Also, the DI has some second-generation black that can be seen in both
formats, but it is not always bad.
24/48 5.1 mix on the Blu-ray outdoes the Dolby Digital 5.1 on both discs,
though that is more competent than usual for a dated sound codec. Carter Burwell’s score is very good and
proves once again how underappreciated he is.
include three featurette pieces in both formats: Working
With The Coens, Diary Of A Country
Sheriff (neither more than ten minutes) and a making of featurette that is
about a half-hour. It does not offer any
answers to the film’s open ended mysteries, but all are very entertaining and
to be seen after you watch the film.
- Nicholas Sheffo