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No Country For Old Men

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JASKN
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What did you think?

I was sorry I saw it. It's been over 24 hours and I still can't get the images of that disgusting man/monster mauling ordinary people with a silenced shotgun out of my head. Sick.

I hate how the film was meticulously and beautifully created, yet the result was something not fit to watch. I don't understand what makes someone want to do that, nor what causes someone to like it afterwards. Ninety-four percent of American film critics gave this a positive review according to rottontomatoes.com, and only one "major" critic disliked it because of the nihilism.

It's not fun for me to "know" about pure evil; I don't like the images, the uneasy feelings and sadness, or emptiness. And it comes through crystal clear with movies, especially when they are skillfully made.

Essentially, I don't know why something like this would ever be made, and somehow I hope to forget what I saw.

Edited by JASKN
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I cannot disagree more with the idea that the Coen brothers (or this movie) are nihilistic. Maybe you have to look at it in the context of other Coen brothers movies, to understand that they are going for a dark sense of humor, with this whole psichopatic character, who murders without feeling guilt. I certainly found Bardem's character funny, just like the psichopats in Fargo or The Ladykillers.

Warning! Spoilers ahead.( the blackout thing is hard to read, skip my post if you haven't seen the movie yet. I do recommend it.)

Not to mention the fact that every single Coen movie I saw is a morality tale. In other movies the evil characters all die, usually killed by off by the psichopath, who then dies by the hand of Justice, be it a cop or faith. (in Ladykillers Hanks dies by accident, if I remember correctly)

In "No Country for Old Men" they do shake it up a bit, but Brolin's character(and Harrelson's too, if I remember correctly) most definitely pay for their sins at the hands of Chigurh, whom I see as an agent of faith, which the Coen brothers tend to equate to justice. (hence the coin toss) It is the right kind of justice though.

As for the ending, its open to interpretation. Mine is this:

Chigurh was an "angel of death", part of nature rather than a human being. He's basically an automaton (or an animal, incapable of judgment)

The fact that he makes it is a social commentary. Our society doesn't have the ability (or more likely the right, knowing the Coen brothers) to stop this kind of evil anymore.

I'm leaning toward this explanation for good reason: I know Coen brothers films. You cannot be nihilistic, or amoral, and have a fight between good and evil in every single movie, at the same time. The Coen brothers have proven themselves many times before, including in this movie, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt with this open ending. I wish I had seen the movie more recently, and been able to have more details to back up my theory. The critics who call them nihilistic simply don't have the knowledge to judge this film properly.

[edit]

Spoilers over.

To sum it up. for those who don't want spoilers:

The Coen brothers find evil interesting, but also funny (ridiculous) and above all: pointless, destined to fail.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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This was an evil film. I don't use that term very often.

The idea that this is a 'morality tale' or a comedy is sick.

The Coens believe decency is doomed to be overwhelmed by murder, coercion, theft and betrayal. Oh, I forgot brutality, sociopathic brutality. You don't make the hero [deliberate usage] embody these traits and then spend two hours graphically depicting him inflicting them on innocent people, and think this the proper way to show any positive life-affirming trait.

We are still in the "age of Dada" as far as art goes. The soul wants sustenance for the love of life. With Dada you just get everything from utter boredom down. Down to the level of this piece of crap film.

John Donohue

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I'm torn. Part of me is rightfully revolted with the world the directors portray and the other part is appreciative of the skill it took to elicit such strong reactions as those you see above.

I mean if an artist sets out to paint a picture of a rotting corpse and manages to get it so right that the painting is considered revolting by all who view it has he failed or succeeded?

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I thought it was a waste of time: a movie that went nowhere.

Ditto. Sat there bored out of my mind waiting for it to end, and when it did, I was left confused and bewildered.

I'm torn. Part of me is rightfully revolted with the world the directors portray and the other part is appreciative of the skill it took to elicit such strong reactions as those you see above.

I mean if an artist sets out to paint a picture of a rotting corpse and manages to get it so right that the painting is considered revolting by all who view it has he failed or succeeded?

He's succeeded in doing something evil. Nothing to be appreciated there.

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He's succeeded in doing something evil. Nothing to be appreciated there.

He did something evil? Okay, how exactly is it evil? Does the film destroy your sense of life? Does it rob you, hurt you remove your rights in any way shape or form?

Okay, I get it you didn't like the movie, you didn't like the premise or the world it portrays but does that film compare with murder, slavery, theft, fraud? Do the directors equate with Stalin, Hitler, the KKK? :)

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The critics who call them nihilistic simply don't have the knowledge to judge this film properly.

[...]

The Coen brothers find evil interesting, but also funny (ridiculous) and above all: pointless, destined to fail.

While I appreciate that you know more about the Coen Brothers than I do, your analysis cannot be derived from the film itself.

Why would I view the film as a "social commentary" instead of what it depicts? It has an inconceivable killer who suffers no consequences for his actions, and the good people after him are helpless, and feel helpless. No shining hero saves justice and goodness in any way. What more is there to say? I suppose there may be a slight lean "against" the killer, but he is portrayed so terrifyingly and there is so little counter against that, I wouldn't really say so. The film is at best an extremely dark depiction of existence, as far as I can see.

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He did something evil? Okay, how exactly is it evil? Does the film destroy your sense of life? Does it rob you, hurt you remove your rights in any way shape or form?

Okay, I get it you didn't like the movie, you didn't like the premise or the world it portrays but does that film compare with murder, slavery, theft, fraud? Do the directors equate with Stalin, Hitler, the KKK? :)

An act doesn't have to directly involve others to be evil. When an artist paints an image of a rotting corpse, I consider this evil. Not because the image may offend others (that shouldn't be his concern) but because it is a concretization of his values (which is what art is), which are evidently evil. If an artist derives pleasure from painting an image of that kind, that is evil.

Edited by Grant
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An act doesn't have to directly involve others to be evil. When an artist paints an image of a rotting corpse, I consider this evil. Not because the image may offend others (that shouldn't be his concern) but because it is a concretization of his values (which is what art is), which are evidently evil. If an artist derives pleasure from painting an image of that kind, that is evil.

Is it the art or the act of painting that the artist derives pleasure from?

Don't forget that many artists paint things that disgust because they see that as a way of drawing attention to some evil or other. Take Picasso's "Guernica" and many other of the era that drew attention to the evil of genocide and the horrible violence of war.

I'm not saying that I like Picasso's work by the way, personally I think he was a hack, but his art does elicit a visceral reaction in many who see it.

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What did you think?

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie experience. I usually judge a movie initially by how well it keeps my attention/focus and the Coen brothers do this masterfully. Movie-making: 10 out of 10

Moral of the story: Depressing

The topic on this thread seems to be veering towards something along these lines: can a work of art have a theme of evil, sadness, etc and still be a "good" work of art. I'm not sure how we'd want to define good.

From your first post Jaskin it seems like you don't enjoy looking at the sad side of humanity and, though the "moral of the story" is still being argued, the overall feeling of this film was a bleak one. Different strokes for different folks.

I don't like all of my movies to have the good guys winning, the bad guys losing, and a positive moral to the story. Why? If I want to learn about the way the world should be I'll read AS. But I'm always curious to understand how others see it.

Would the Coen brothers and I get along very well? Probably not. But the way they see the world and most importantly how they portray it artistically is well done.

From the IMDB glossary:

Mise-en-scene

Literally translated as "what's put into the scene", this is the sum total of all factors affecting the artistic "look" or "feel" of a shot or scene. These can include shot selection, shot composition, production design and set decoration, as well as technical camera properties such as shutter speed, aperture, frame rate, and depth of field. Mise-en-scene is often contrasted with montage, where the artistic "look" of a scene is constructed through visual editing.

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This film did not just 'contain' or 'depict' sadness and evil.

It was malevolent and destructive in intent. If you are an Objectivist, you may have heard the term "benevolent sense of life." This film snarked at any kind of benevolence, affirmation of the beauty of life.

The film "Titanic" was about something sad and horrible, but the film was uplifting.

Do not accuse people who reject hate for hate's sake of not being able to watch something sad or horrifying.

Here's another extreme example: Recently there was a film "Miss Potter." You cannot imagine a choice more inclined to be about something light and happy and joyous, in fact so simple it might easily be way too overboard. Yet, this film is intensely beautiful and uplifting. It is about the self-actualization of a woman against odds. She holds her benevolent sense of life, and indeed contributes to imbuing it in children forever.

And the film contains one episode/thread of such sadness and grief you want to hide your heart.

Get used to it, the toughest people in the world are those who can look at sadness and not turn cold. The Coen brothers are exactly the opposite; they are cowards.

John Donohue

P.S. no, I am not going to "prove it." It is a highly informed opinion and I can offer evidence, but I choose not to use my time for that right now, so judge that decision harshly if you want to.

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It was malevolent and destructive in intent. If you are an Objectivist, you may have heard the term "benevolent sense of life." This film snarked at any kind of benevolence, affirmation of the beauty of life.

The film "Titanic" was about something sad and horrible, but the film was uplifting.

Do not accuse people who reject hate for hate's sake of not being able to watch something sad or horrifying.

Here's another extreme example: Recently there was a film "Miss Potter." You cannot imagine a choice more inclined to be about something light and happy and joyous, in fact so simple it might easily be way too overboard. Yet, this film is intensely beautiful and uplifting. It is about the self-actualization of a woman against odds. She holds her benevolent sense of life, and indeed contributes to imbuing it in children forever.

And the film contains one episode/thread of such sadness and grief you want to hide your heart.

Get used to it, the toughest people in the world are those who can look at sadness and not turn cold. The Coen brothers are exactly the opposite; they are cowards.

John Donohue

P.S. no, I am not going to "prove it." It is a highly informed opinion and I can offer evidence, but I choose not to use my time for that right now, so judge that decision harshly if you want to.

My tone was not meant to be accusatory. I re-read my post and can't recognize where you drew this conclusion but I am very open to constructive criticism. This wouldn't be the first time my intended meaning or tone got lost in the written word.

I accept your premise that it was "malevolent and destructive in intent", and that it "snarked at any kind of benevolence, affirmation of the beauty of life". But I don't draw the same conclusion that a bad motive/intent/meaning makes for a bad movie. On the contrary, if the Coen brothers WANTED you to be sad or disgusted and they succeeded would it not be a good movie?

For example if the best directors, actors, actresses, etc joined forces to make the most stunning film advocating socialism I would be disgusted at the moral of the story, but would not write it off as a bad movie. The acting, cinematography, editing, sound, etc could still be first-rate.

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P.S. no, I am not going to "prove it." It is a highly informed opinion and I can offer evidence, but I choose not to use my time for that right now, so judge that decision harshly if you want to.

How could I judge them one way or the other?[edit: your opinions I mean] I'm going to have to ignore them (only on this subject, don't get me wrong). I can't settle for "I choose not to provide evidence, but I have it.".

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Interestingly enough, I have a highly informed opinion about the movie too. Blaming the Coen brothers for the story in this movie is HIGHLY uninformed. This movie is based on the book of the same title by Cormac McCarthy and it adheres to the storyline pretty closely. If one wanted to blame the content of this movie on anyone, it should rightfully be the author, not the Coen brothers.

That said, I thought it was a good movie with a bleak premise.

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Interestingly enough, I have a highly informed opinion about the movie too. Blaming the Coen brothers for the story in this movie is HIGHLY uninformed. This movie is based on the book of the same title by Cormac McCarthy and it adheres to the storyline pretty closely. If one wanted to blame the content of this movie on anyone, it should rightfully be the author, not the Coen brothers.

That said, I thought it was a good movie with a bleak premise.

I am aware of that, but the movie is not the book. The movie is the Coen brothers' baby, and they chose this story because it suited their purposes.

The Coen brothers are not guns for hire, and the movie is not an ecranization (why doesn't my spell-checker like this word?) of the novel, it's a separate work. If they wanted to change the story, they had that option, or they could've picked a different story.

I for one am defending the movie as a separate work of art, if anything part of the Coen brtothers' body of work, rather than Cormac McCarthy's. (but I haven't read the book. I don't know for sure that the entire movie isn't just the book's content transcribed to a different medium, I can only assume it isn't based on what I know about the Coens' work)

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I thought Tommy Lee Jones character was wasted in the film. I didn't think his role added a great deal to it - though I understand why he was in it, but was not satisfied with where they took (or didn't take) the character in the movie.

This movie actually gave me nightmares. The killer was so superbly played - and I think the Coen brothers did a great job showing how truly dangerous this man was because he had a code of ethics that was rigid and unbending. THAT is why he terrified me. He was a bad person, definitely, but was very true to his word. This man could not be stopped BECAUSE he did what he said he would and would not let ANYONE change his mind.

To me, he was a personification in a way of rigid unyielding fanatical religion.

Outside of Tommy Lee Jones' character (which I considered a side bar character, nothing more), I thought this was a good movie. However I loved and hated it at the same time because I wanted the ending to be different. But the plot played out logically, so I cannot really complain to much about it.

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I for one am defending the movie as a separate work of art, if anything part of the Coen brothers' body of work, rather than Cormac McCarthy's. (but I haven't read the book. I don't know for sure that the entire movie isn't just the book's content transcribed to a different medium, I can only assume it isn't based on what I know about the Coens' work)

The movie is quite similar to the book, although the movie makes Llewelyn more bad-ass (e.g. the dog chase), Chigurh less methodical and frightening (partly due to the nature of the medium), and strips out most of Sheriff Bell's involvement throughout the storytelling (at the end of most chapters, Bell recall's a memory from his past). The book delved more into the theme.

Edited by brian0918
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Well, all of you who approve of and enjoy this nihilistic film, despite it being unrepentently hateful of life, you will probably really go wild over this:

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/warner-todd-h...ch-out-watchmen

enjoy!

John Donohue

John,

I agree with you about No Country For Old Men, and I've expressed similar opinions about Burn After Reading, but I think you make a mistake to lump Watchmen into that category. The article you linked is correct about all the "heroes" in the Watchmen except for one. The one labeled as "psychotic" represents an unwavering dedication to justice. His contrast with the others makes the comic, and hopefully the movie, worthwhile.

Mallory

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