Friday, February 8, 2008

No Country For Old Men (Coen)

Dear Coen Brothers,

I do not understand you guys. We're just not on the same page I guess. Can you just tell me: why do you like making movies? What drives you to create? What do you hope to achieve with your art? I mean, you're two very talented hombres but at the end of the day all your skills are in the service of...what exactly? I must have seen at least eight of your films, and while they were all enjoyable, even highly enjoyable to some extent, none of them really blew me away the way I want a great film to just blow me away. It's like you creep up on greatness, and then smother it with silliness or implausibility because you're not comfortable really going for those moments of transcendent truth. The closest you came was The Big Lebowski, but...what was the John Goodman character all about? I mean, sure, you're consistent and quirky and when you see a Coen Brothers movie, you get what you pay for. But I'm willing to get less than what I pay for if sometimes there's a chance I'll get way more. And you guys just never give me that chance.

Like No Country For Old Men. Even though the critics were going gaga over it, by now I've seen enough of your guys' movies to know that it would probably disappoint me...and I was right. What in tarnation was that movie all about? How was that movie supposed to aid me on the great journey of life? OK, so some guy runs around and shoots people, and some sheriff can't do anything about it, and some other guy tries to steal some money, but so what? What was the point?

Many reasonably intelligent people might interject here and say, "Does a great movie always have to have a point, Little Earl?" Well, no, not every great movie has to have a point. But 90% of them do. And the other 10% percent better be damn good. I am told by Yoggoth, who read the book but has not seen the movie, that this time you guys are really just agents of author Cormac McCarthy, and that any pointlessness found in the movie is really the author's fault and not you own. But you guys pick the movies you want to make! What was it about this book, as opposed to a thousand others, that screamed out at you, "That's it, that's what we'd like to say to the world."

I mean, there was a moment in this movie (I swear, it happens with every one of your guys' films) where I thought, "Hmm, wow, maybe this is it, maybe this is the Coen Brothers movie that finally breaks the mold and goes to that special place where great films reside." But then...(possible spoilers) it just becomes totally implausible. Nobody is actually like Anton Chigurh. Nobody just wanders around and kills people by flipping a coin and parsing out some coolly enigmatic dialogue. Nobody does it. And if a guy was wandering around Texas killing that many people, I mean hell, the FBI and a whole SWAT team would be on his ass. And what's the deal anyway, is he after the money or does he just want to kill people? It seems like half the time he's a legitimate hired hand and the other half of the time he just wants to kill people. Now compare this film with Zodiac, which was 100% plausible with the added bonus of actually having a point. Was No Country entertaining? Yes. But when a movie is about to win the Best Picture Oscar, it better be damn well more than just entertaining.

In sum, I really don't get you guys.


"Film Critic" rating: ****
"Little Earl" rating: **


yoggoth said...

John Goodman's character was the best thing about The Big Lebowski. Funny how that's the best Cohen Brothers movie but it isn't taken as seriously as most of the others.

The Cohen Brothers - experts of near transcendence.

Little Earl said...

The Big Lebowski made you feel better about life. It's the one Coen Brothers movie that has what you might almost call...soul. The best thing about the movie was obviously the Dude. Easily the most realistic, genuinely endearing protagonist in a Coen Brothers film. Maybe other characters in their movies are likeable or good-natured (like in O Brother Where Art Thou), but the Dude was like an extension of all of us.

yoggoth said...

Jeff Bridges did a great job. I didn't realize it was him under all that hair. Of course, I'm not sure I knew who Jeff Bridges was in 1998. I still can never remember his name when I see him.

I can still remember going to Freshman year classes in my sweatpants with my untrimmed goatee. When people referred to me as the Dude I took it as a compliment.

Little Earl said...

The man's done everything from The Last Picture Show to Tron, by God, and yet you still can't remember his name...

yoggoth said...

He was in Tron? I think I saw about half of that movie when I was 10. Before I saw Last Picture Show I don't think I even knew his name(even having seen The Bid Lebowski 20 times).