Saturday, November 22, 2008

No Country for Old Men

A night at the movies

So recently I have been watching a bunch of movies, I love movies but recently my life reconfigured itself so that I stopped watching them. I dunno why just did. So over the last couple of days I have been watching some movies, for the most part they have sucked, been disapointing and one has been fucking amazing! Actually in that order too, funny how that worked out. So on with the show.

The movie that sucked was Quid Pro Quo. Fuck that movie. See in the trailer it made it seem like it was about some really cool fetish where people wanted to be crippled and or and or amputated. It had all the right ingrediants, shady meetings, mysteriouse code names, evokative imagry, man that trailor caputured my imagination like nothing else. So with some great excitement I procured the movie and eagerly watched it.

Much to my horror I realized that the movie sucked. The main charecter is a cripple, which makes sense, and he is a reporter which also makes sense. SO he gets a tip about this secret society of people who wants to be crippled. Of course wierdly enough the tip doesn't pan out because his hospital contact lies to him and the plot sort of dies in the water for a few minuts. Fortunatly he gets another tip which sends him off in the right direction.

From the perspective of a game master it is like trying to guide retarded players who keep missing vaulable clues.

ANYWAY, so the main charecter ham fistedly chases all the wierd cripple wannabies off. The plot here is in seriouse danger of going no where so the mysteriouse contact reveals herself and quickly becomes a love interest so that there wil be a minimum of stalling later on. YAY! His love interest is of course a wannabie cripple too. So it kinda works out. Now stay with me here.

The main charecter buys a pair of magic shoes from a pawn shop and suddenly regains the ability to walk. As the plot grinds to its conclusion the girl more or less throws her hands up in frustration, states that she was the driver of the car which left him crippled for most of his life, she wanted to be crippled out of guilt, and that the main charecter was hystericaly paralized and an idiot.


No seriously. Okay disapointment alone isn't enough to make me hate a movie. See I like movies about guilt and reconiliation. Levity for example is a wonderful example of the genra and it doesn't nearly have as interesting of a setting. Whatever go avoid it, because I recomend you do so. Its wierd, that movie would be so much better told from the girls point of view, she is by far more interesting of the two charecters and she is the one that moved the plot fowards anyway it might of well be all about her. The main charecter just sort of loafed around and let things happen around him.
I also saw No Country for Old Men, finnaly. Before I go on and on about the movie I would like to state here and now that I actually liked the movie quite a bit. I didn't love it, but i am glad that I own it. That said here we go.
No Country is a wierd wierd movie. See the Cohen brothers are two of my favorite directors of all time. I love them in ways you can't really understand. Now No Country is pretty much nothing like thier other movies. Cohen brother movies generaly fall into three broad categories, Nior, comedic Nior, and comedy. The Nior movies would be Fargo, The Man who Wasn't There, and one other one I can't remeber the name of. The movies are very specificly about a crime that ends up going terribly terribly wrong. They are always about average people who do average things until circumstance causes them to do something very bizzare.
The Nior comedies are pretty much the same thing only funny. These include, Big Lebowski, Intolerable Cruelty, Raising Arizona, and The Ladty Killers. These movies are all over the top, funny, and blah blah blah. The comedies are Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and Hudsucker Proxie. If you haven't seen Hudsucker for some reason stop reading this immeadiatly and go find it, now. Anyways Cohen brother's movies usually have all sorts of running themes in them that they like to use, Good vs. Evil, over the top charecters, over the top dialects or interesting speach patterns, wierd historical invensions, and a few other things.
No Country featured about none of this stuff. As a movie it is pretty much like nothing else the Cohen brothers have done before. Now this is somehting that happens to a lot of great directors. Every once in a while they will pop out with something that just doesn't fit. My favorite example is Sparticus, which was directed by Stanly Kubrick. Go watch Sparticus you'll get the joke. No really do it, its a good movie. So yeah No Country is that movie.
Alright now that I've waved my e-penis around in establishing that I've seen more of thier movies than you and blah blah blah I can get on with the actual movie. To be honest I typed all of that other stuff because I am not quite sure what to say. Nor do I really understand why people loved that movie so bloody much.
The only way I can reasonably rationalize it out is that somwhere during the filming process the movie became self aware of its own excistence. It also became suicidal and did everything it possibly could to end its own excistence. If this were the case the movie is a roaring sucess and I have witnessed by far the most amazing suicide ever, topping even the one featured in Magnolia. So lets take a look at the anatomy of a suicide shall we?
First there is Tommy Lee Jones' charecter. That man is the most agressivly passive charecter I have ever seen in a movie. Seriously, I have never seen someone so dead set on doing as little as possible as that man. He goes out to the crime scene, then he spends most of the rest of the movie reading a paper, then he talks to the main charecter's wife, the he tries to be proactive but more or less gives up and goes home an retires. His final scene is him complaining about having nothing to do and narrating a dream that is about his on comming death. Go Tommy Lee. THe movie would give him opertunity to do things too, people would be all like, "Hey Tommy we are going to the crime scene again" and he would drive them off, "Hey Tommy you just figgured out the murder weapon" but instead he just sort of wanders off again, "Hey Tommy one of your damn deputies was murdered in cold blood" no nope its paper time. AND SO Tommy spent most of the movie doing his best to do nothing and suceeding epicly at it. THis man made the box cover too, I mean he is an important charecter who took up a third of the movie displaying how much nothing he is capable of.
TO explain. This movie is based on a book. Now the movie gives you lots of cues as to what the charecter is thinking and his motivations for doing nothing. I'm sure the book would "show don't tell" us why he is doing nothing. But the problem with all of this is that we are watching a movie, which is a medium defined by a moving picture. So to have a charecter who takes up roughly a 3rd of the movie's screen time agressivly doing nothing is what we acedemics like to call a, "bold visionary move" because it is. It challenges the basic idea that the medium is based on, ie movement. The Cohen brothers are usually amazing at this, but every time Tommy wandered onto the screen I just felt so massivly disinterested in everything he had to say that I just stopped caring. I GOT it pretty quickly what his problem was, and nothing he ever did really complicated that idea so I was stuck being hit in the head with a message I understood from near the start of the movie. Even his one brush with death left me feeling pretty apathetic. It was supposed to be dramatice seeing as how he drew his gun bringing the movie in full circle but damnit I really wish the killer came out of his hidning place and killed him, or at least did the coin toss game.

So lets move onto the charecters that actually moved around and made the movie interesting to watch rather than talk about. I'mma gonna do the main charecter first. The main charecter is introduced as a fairly crappy hunter, who stubles onto a drug deal gone worse that usual, 2 million in cash, lots of guns, and one lone survivor begging for water. Its that survivor that got him. Ordniarly these next few lines would be about how main charecters need to be well meaning dumb people because it is easyer to move the plot along, but Tommy Lee didn't do crap the whole movie so I guess that isn't a requirement any more. Regardless, our well meaning dumb charecter went back to deliver water gets caught by some mexicans and the plot needlessly progresses. I mean there was a transiver in the bag of money so they would of found him anyway.

So our intreped main charecter spends the rest of the movie running away from a crazed madman dressed all in black. He does some smart things, some dumb things, and when the mad man threatens his wife, he decides it is best to take out the mad man before the mad man can get to her. Instead he gets gunned down by Mexicans who were also looking for him. Here the movie's sucicidal action time kicked into high gear. See movies are really just ideas that are captured in motion. So how do you kill an idea? Well for one make it seem unimportant. The less important and idea seems the less we will talk about it and thus the whole thing falls apart. So the movie makes a masterful turn regarding its own demise and doesn't bother to show the fire fight between the Mexicans and the main charecter. In order to maintain Tommy Lee's ability to do nothing he shows up right after the action ends, and we don't even get to see that really, just some cars driving off. What we are treated to is seeing the main charecter's wife cry when she arrives on the scene several hours later.

Well done movie, well done. Instead of at least giving the main charecter enough consideration to kill him on screen we shuffle him off to the side and we never even find out what happened to him. How many mexican's were there? How many did he take out? Nope nothing. Just the fact that the main charecter and his annoying as fuck mother in law died. HURRAY!!! Man I wish i could of seen her gunned down. Oh well. Stupid movie trying to kill itself. THe moral the main charecter leaves for us is that if you try to be proactive in a movie that is well on its way to killing itself Mexicans will murder you. Amen.

SO then there is the killer. Oh wow lunch is over and I actually have work to do so I'll be back later. Man what a crazy adventure I just had saving an alternate universe from giant ipods. Oh well. So then there is the killer. The killer presents the biggest obstical to a suicudal movie becaue the killer is layed out in such a way that he will relentlessly persue his quarry until it is thoughly terminated. He is the driving force of the plot, and he is the ultimate tool for ensuring continueing action.
However, our intrepid little movie is much cleverer than we once gave it credit for. See someone hired that killer, and if the person who hired the killer were to die, then the plot would be seriously hampered in continueing on. So enter's Woody Harrleson. Woody who should be your favorite actor based on his preformance in natural born killers, subverts the role of the main killer in 3 ways:

1) He threatens the killers excistence by retriving the money through casual conversation instead of violence, thus ending the need for the movie.

2) He gives the main killer a name and an identity. Woody, with a few well placed lines manages to obliterate most of the mysteriouse nature that the original killer had by granting definition to his excistence. To make the killer's subversion even sweeter he told all this information to the main charecter who really couldn't give two shits one way ot the other.

3) He gives the killer reason to kill his employer thus ensuring the plots vauge resolution.

Thankyou Woody, thankyou. So in two jump cuts we have a dead employer and a dead Woody, sorry Woody but you messed with the wrong movie.

Then after this point the killer ceases to become a relevent factor in the movie. Mexicans gun down the main charecter, the killer mops up the main charecter's wife, and gets into a car acident and ends up wandering away. YAY killer.

Actually back to the main charecter's wife. Apparently the movie has read Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, because along its sucicdal victory run it decided to wipe out a charecter that no one really cared about. Seriously the main charecter's wife is the most 2d non person I've ever seen in my life. She bearly gets some development when confronted with the killer and you know what? We don't get to see if he kills her or not. He, might of, he might not of. It doens't really matter either way because as soon as the main charecter died via mexicans the movie more or less stopped mattering, it slowly unravled with a sort of poetic grace splintering apart at the seems and finnaly dispersing with Tommy Lee Jones reflecting on his own inevitable death.

There you have it, proof that the movie has somehow become intelegent and decided to kill itself.

Unlike There Will Be Blood who can be summed up in "I drink your milkshake" and "I'm finnished". That movie ends in a caphony of sound and violence. Now that was an ending.

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