Friday, 2 January 2009

Of No Country for Old Men

It now comes time for me to review the winner of last years Best Picture, which I wholeheartedly agree with. No Country for Old Men simply was the best movie released in 2007. However living in the UK it was released in 2008. In fact the only movie which apparently came close was There Will Be Blood which I will eventually get round to seeing. This year I may in fact have reviewed the winner of that little golden statue for Best Picture. Really looking at it there are only two movies which could possibly win the Oscar and they're Milk and Frost/Nixon, neither of which I'm particularly enthused to see (apart from possibly Milk). However we're to talk about No Country for Old Men, one of the best films of the past ten years.

No Country for Old Men is truly stunning. The overall plot is that Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) comes across a massacre in the middle of the desert along with a lot of money, which of course he takes (everyone else is dead and it's set in the 80s, there's not really much else to do). However doing this leads him to be followed by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) a serial killer and the local sheriff, Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). So the following two hours take us down the road of how Llewelyn is going to try and avoid the serial killer and remain alive. The film builds up the tension beautifully which is really helped by some amazing acting and stunning cinematography.

Joel and Ethan Coen aren't newcomers to the film industry. They've definitely had their fair share of critical acclaim with movies like Fargo and the Big Lebowski. However this film is definitely a lot different from there more well known fare. Fargo was their last Oscar winning effort and was decidedly more lighthearted in content as was this years Burn After Reading. However No Country is exceedingly noir. Whilst the Coen Brother's ever so brilliant dialogue is still intact (amazing considering how close this film is to the original book) and the fact that there are so many of their trademarks. There's even the fact that all of the characters speak with an accent. However unlike Fargo where the accent is funny (I can't help thinking of that movie when I see Sarah Palin), here the accent is necessary for the film considering it is set in Texas. It is also easily their best film. Whilst the Coen's suffered a bit after 2001, this movie brought them back full force and showed how they are not only one of the best collaboration efforts in the industry but also one of the best writer/director combos (they've now won two Oscars for Screenplays and one for direction).

Now for the acting. I'm going to have to get Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones out of the way. Tommy Lee Jones is a fine actor and has done some great stuff however compared to his actors in this film he just doesn't compare. Brolin had a fantastic 2007 with three great movies and was in this years W. and he performs amazingly. He really was perfect for this role and whats even more surprising is that the Coen's didn't originally want him for the role. However he got and he does an incredible job playing the character and is for all purposes the main character. However Javier Bardem steals the show. Like Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, Javier Bardem plays quite possibly one of the greatest screen villains of all time. Seriously he's up there with Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader. The character of Chigurh is just monumentally evil and he features in nearly all of the films best scenes. One scene set inside a petrol station is just so tense because you know that this guy isn't against random killing and you just don't know whether or not the owner of the station is going to live or not. Chigurh is also the master of the coin toss. Aaron Eckhart might have taken Two Face's custom trait in the Dark Knight but Javier Bardem perfected it in this movie, whats even better is we never actually find out the outcome of the tosses it's only hinted at.

Finally I wanted to talk about gorgeous this film is. Roger Deakins is a master when it comes to cinematography. The film feels so incredibly barren and it's a damn shame that he didn't win an Oscar for it (that went to There Will Be Blood which again, I will see). But you just have to be shocked at amazing it looks. Even when not in high definition you can't help but gasp at how amazing it looks. Roger Deakins even worked on Wall-E which also somewhat explains how that film looks gorgeous as well.

Honestly this a movie that just needs to be seen. Joel and Ethan Coen are two of the best directors out there at the moment and this is easily they're best film (although there is much love for Fargo). The acting is stunning and it is well worth watching this film just to see Javier Bardem as one of the greatest villains ever (he won for Supporting Actor last year just like Heath should this year). The cinematography is just stunning and this is truly one of the best films to have graced us this decade, I might love Garden State and The Fountain that bit more but No Country for Old Men is simply an incredible movie that should be watched by everyone. 10/10

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