Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Battle Of The Oscar Stars: Best Picture 2007

Watching a movie alone in the dark is never a good idea.

Doing so while also brooding that you are the last of your friends to hit the big 2-1, and thus you have been left pathetically alone for the night is scary, and actually, rather sad.

It twas March of 2008 when I first laid eyes on the Coen brothers only Best Picture winner (so far). I remember that night like it was yesterday - I sat in terror, gazing at Javier Bardem's fancy bowl cut while all of my friends were, literally, on a party bus traversing the streets of Seattle.  I know what you're thinking - yes, I did try to sneak on that bus and apparently I'm not smooth enough to pull off such a feat.

Being alone late at night obviously seemed like the perfect occasion to watch the noir like/crime caper/murder spree that is No Country For Old Men. I didn't quite know what I was getting into, otherwise I might have snuggled on the coach with a blanket gushing over Mark Ruffalo in 13 Going On 30 instead.

To top off the night, after the movie ended and I was tucked into bed, my roommates came crashing back into the apartment and I jolted awake slightly terrified that a man with a bolt pistol (a cow killing thingy) was making his way toward my bedroom door.

That night was riddled with distractions, my mind was all over the place, which is  never good for appreciating a movie. I had liked it enough, but I didn't really "get" what the story was trying to say, and absolutely detested the ending (a somewhat popular assertion it seems). Now with this second viewing five years later, it's true stance as a movie masterpiece is clear.

As noted before, I am a Coen brothers super-fan, and No Country has justly moved up the list to my third favorite, keeping close company with Fargo and Raising Arizona. Between the cautionary tale of greed, impeccable acting, and general visual grandeur present in all things Coen, it seems evident that most film fans would note this with the same amount of high praise.

Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy, the story might move a little too slow for some, but if you really get absorbed in every character interaction, that's where the truly chilling nature is created, especially in Javier Bardem's character, and makes it exhilarating to have to wait to find out what happens next.

Right away we are thrown into the world where a guy like Anton Chigurh (Bardem) exists - just the first scene finds him being arrested, and then quickly getting away in a truly gruesome fashion. It's unclear how he will be connected to the rest of the characters, but it is evident his horrific nature rules the world

Cue, regular old, cowboy hat wearin' guy, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). He starts out his day hunting pronghorn (yeah, that's an animal I had to look-up)  in the wide open country side and before sunset discovers a leather case full of money - after that all bets are off. Moss spends the rest of the movie trying to avoid becoming the victim, the hunted, whose final moments could be staring into the barrel of a gun instead of the sight.

It's a movie that could be compared to everything from black and white noir films to Clint Eastwood Westerns, but combined with that comedic nature Joel and Ethan are always able to tap into, even during a movie predominately about murder, No Country becomes a movie all its own.

Besides always crafting something unique, my favorite thing about the Coen's is how every single role is written and performed well - from the big parts, played by actors like Tommy Lee Jones and Woody Harrelson, to the bit players who only have one scene. The woman in the trailer park office, is beyond brilliant, almost beating the chicks from the bar in Fargo.

Most astounding though is Kelly Macdonald, who does a better Texan accent than most Americans could ever muster, and in real life she is very noteably Scottish.

If  you have yet to catch No Country For Old Men, I'd suggest watching it now, and then watch it again in a month. This seems to be one of those flicks that gets better with each viewing. Don't forget to keep the lights on though, and maybe bring a buddy.

Up Next: We're getting wild with Regis Philbin! Or not...but it's Slumdog Millionaire.

Until next time.

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