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No Country for Old Men

A 2008 movie starring Javier Bardem directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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Intensity has a name

  • Mar 26, 2008
  • by
Wow. Great movie. I saw this movie at the Rialto in Raleigh, NC, which is worth a trip in itself as an old school "movie palace". The lobby is about the size of my kitchen at home, just enough room for a concession stand, then double doors open directly into the big theatre with a concrete floor sloping down to the big screen on a real stage. Stepping through those double doors is a 50-year step backwards, but the place looks like it has been recently renovated as the floor is clean, the seats are new reclining seats with cup holders, and the sound system was excellent (loud and clear but not blaring and distorted--which is very important in this movie).

You may not want to buy any popcorn or drinks for this one, though. The movie slams into gear and never slows down. The tension is a function of the quality of the film making, not of absurd action, extreme violence, or shouted dialogue, although there is some of each of those things in the movie. In fact, even though this movie is rated R for violence, the action, violence, and dialogue is never there for its own sake or prurient interest, but only as it drives the story, so some of the most profound and disturbing action and dialogue is muted. This is mature movie-making of the kind that is disturbing and adult.

One thing there isn't is a backing musical sound track. Everything you hear during the movie is part of the movie, which leads to some long moments of what seems to be dead silence (compared to normal movies) but contain sounds that are part of the movie image (the south Texas wind whistling, a toilet flushing, feet shuffling). There were probably 25 people in the theatre for the Saturday matinee (this was well before the Oscar hype), and you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre. I coughed once, and it sounded like cannon fire in the silence of the theatre. This was an excellent movie-making choice, executed perfectly.

Another choice was not to show the movie in the big chain multi-screen theatres (initially, before the Oscar hype), just in small one-screen theatres like the Rialto, and it was a good choice. It limited the audience to those who would respect the movie experience. That sounds like an odd and anachronistic statement about what after all is just an entertainment choice, but this movie both deserves and richly repays a level of attention from the audience to match the attention to their craft that the movie makers (the Coen brothers) put into this movie.

You will want to read the book as well (See my review at No Country for Old Men), as it will give you more drill down into the characters and events on the screen. Both are excellent and track very true; the movie has just compressed some of the locations and one character who is useful in the book, but the screenwriters and directors did this in ways that don't detract from the story on the screen. You can read the book and watch the movie in either order without ruining your enjoyment of either. My son (a mature high school senior--this movie is not for anyone younger!) and I had both read the book first, and knowing the action and the ending, we still sat on the edge of our seats and watched entranced as the inevitable unfolded. Even scenes that we anticipated from the book unfolded with surprise and sometimes shock.

Inevitability is a key theme of the movie. Once choices are made, the consequences unfold inexorably--but choices can be made and must be made with care. A very basic plot summary to set the stage: Young blue-color guy out hunting elk stumbles across a set of vehicles and men shot up and dead in a remote spot,. We watch his quiet (no soundtrack, remember), methodical search and assessment of the scene and realize as he does that this was a drug deal gone bad with possibly more than two parties in the mix (and now dead--or missing?--on the ground). All the action extends from that scene. More than this, you must go see or read. And rest assured, that action won't fit in your usual genre references of western/action/drug gang/horror/road/chase/crime/mystery/buddy movie.

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More No Country for Old Men reviews
review by . May 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN       I don't know about you but I have always been a huge fan of the Coen Brothers Joel and Ethan, I have liked every film the two have put together. This is no exception and is just another classic in a long list of classics, both theatrically and on DVD this is a brilliant film. I can honestly say that a lot of the time I do not agree with the winners or even the nominees chosen by the Academy for the Oscar but they got it right …
Quick Tip by . December 28, 2010
"The Terminator" in Texas...    Somehow I have to make 50 characters here.
review by . July 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Josh Brolin as Lewllon Moss
Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is a good sheriff.  He can put together a crime scene and get in touch with who he needs to.  Never gets hurt and does a good job keeping the peace.  One day though an ugly and violent crime is enough to put him out to pasture.  It was enough to make him realize how just like all those disgusting crimes across the country he only read about in newspapers, has finally come home to West Texas.  Towards the end of his tenure as Sheriff, an old friend of …
Quick Tip by . June 08, 2010
CRAZY but so incredibly good. Watched it in my criminology class.
review by . September 06, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carry one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Camanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never …
Quick Tip by . October 31, 2009
Poor Texas man runs off with drug money he finds at a crime scene only to have a bounty hunter on his tail and a sheriff in between. Great.
review by . May 08, 2009
The story opens in the desolate west Texas countryside, as Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad and makes off with a suitcase full of money. He figures he'll be followed and he's right; Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a ruthless and patient killer, is after him. Chigurh is, in turn, being tracked by the local sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones), a good ol' country boy who's amazed at how violent criminals have become lately.     I'd heard this was a bloody guy-movie …
review by . September 09, 2008
(to the tune of El Paso by Marty Robbins)     Close by the West Texas town of El Paso   There was a drug deal that went very wrong   Llewellyn, he fled with a bag full of money   Came back to the scene, but he took far too long     Blacker than night was the heart of the Chigurh   Wicked and evil and killing for fun   He soon went after Llewellyn's new treasure   Armed with a captive bolt cow stunning …
review by . December 09, 2008
I honestly thought this movie was going to be  alot different that what it was....poor guy couldn't catch a break :)   I was a bit disappointment by the movie.  I didn't except it to end the way it did and just got a bad feeling through the whole movie that it probably wasn't worth all he had to go through.  I've also seen better acting from Tommy Lee Jones, really in my opinion the worst I've seen.
review by . September 08, 2008
This film was a real treat and something that I wanted to watch for quite some time because I admire Javier Bardem as an actor. No Country for Old Men is a thriller that delivers brilliant levels of suspense, fear and apprehension whilst simultaneously disposing of the genre's preconceived conventions. The cinematography on show unashamedly harks back to the Coens debut Blood Simple (1983) and with their regular Cinematographer at the helm, Roger A. Deakins, it is no surprise that No Country for …
About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #66
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this movie


The Coen brothers make their finest thriller sinceFargowith a restrained adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel. Not that there aren't moments of intense violence, butNo Country for Old Menis their quietest, most existential film yet. In this modern-day Western, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a Vietnam vet who could use a break. One morning while hunting antelope, he spies several trucks surrounded by dead bodies (both human and canine). In examining the site, he finds a case filled with $2 million. Moss takes it with him, tells his wife (Kelly Macdonald) he's going away for awhile, and hits the road until he can determine his next move. On the way from El Paso to Mexico, he discovers he's being followed by ex-special ops agent Chigurh (an eerily calm Javier Bardem). Chigurh's weapon of choice is a cattle gun, and he uses it on everyone who gets in his way--or loses a coin toss (as far as he's concerned, bad luck is grounds for death). Just as Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), a World War II vet, is on Moss's trail, Chigurh's former colleague, Wells (Woody Harrelson), is on his. For most of the movie, Moss remains one step ahead of his nemesis. Both men are clever and resourceful--except Moss has a conscience, Chigurh does not (he is, as McCarthy puts it, "a prophet of destruction"). At times, the film plays like an old horror movie, with Chigurh as its lumbering Frankenstein monster. Like the taciturn terminator,No Country for Old ...
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Movies, Drama Movies, Action Movies, Dramas, Coen Brothers, Coen Brothers Movies, Woody Harrelson Movies, Ethan Coen Movies, Josh Brolin Movies, Joel Coen Movies, Javier Bardem Movies, Tommy Lee Jones Movies


Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Action, Drama, Adventure
Release Date: 2007, November 9, 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Runtime: 2hrs 2min
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