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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Mystery > Literature > No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray + DVD-Video)

No Country For Old Men (Blu-ray + DVD-Video)

 

Picture: B+/C+     Sound: B+/B-     Extras: C+     Film: B

 

 

After 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.

 

When we 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!

 

A young 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.

 

In the 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 locations.

 

 

The best 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!

 

 

The 1080p 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.

 

The PCM 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.

 

Extras 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


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