Thursday, December 13, 2007

Best of 'O7

Instead of the Daily Rounds for the next week, I am bringing you my picks for the best of 2007. Our first review will be about my favorite movie of the year: No Country for Old Men.

This year, hands down, my favorite movie so far since the year is not yet over, is "No Country for Old Men". I waited for this this film for many months, after hearing the critical acclaim it received at the various 2007 festivals. The western/drama, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, is an adaptation of a Cormac McCarthy book. In preparation, I read the novel, which follows three men's travel throughout the southern border of the USA in search for money, escape and "their country". The book was not one of my favorites, but I always attempt to read them before an adapted movie. When I was finally able to the see the film, I can honestly say I have never seen a book come to life better, other then the Harry Potter scenery.

The Coen brothers were able to have each page of the book unfold upon the screen, with the daybreak lit plains of Texas rounding out the cast. Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones provide the viewer with some of\ the best strong man/sensitive man character work that I have seen since the time of Robert Mitchum and Cary Grant. The movie is set in the early 1980's in rural Texas, where everyone knows you and your business and bad things just don't happen. Brolin plays Llewelyn Moss, a Vietnam vet, just getting by in Texas with a simple life and a simple family. While hunting one day, Moss comes upon a bloody scene in the desert, which looks to him as a drug deal gone bad and during his investigation of the scene finds a briefcase filled with millions of dollars. Since almost all of the men in the grizzly scene are deceased, Moss leaves with the money, but not after speaking with a man in need of aqua. While trying to sleep that night, Moss is overcome with a feeling and finds himself traveling back to the scene of the crime with a jug of water and knows in his heart he is making the biggest mistake of his life. What comes next is what suspense westerns are all about. Jones is the county's sheriff, Ed Tom Bell, who is in charge of investigating the grizzly scene in the desert. Bell has been recently confronted with the plain fact that America is a different place then it was 65 years before and is figuring out if he can continue to work in these conditions. He also can see that Moss has gotten himself into something so dark, almost no one can save him now. Javier Bardem, who plays the apathetic, destiny-denier Anton Chigurh, whose murderous nature brings Bell and Moss together. Bardem plays the sociopathic killer so well he has officially replaced any movie monster created by David Lynch in my nightmares. The ability of him to bring sheer terror to people's lives with a flip of a coin is genius.

The Coen brothers are always able to bring to life parts of the American life that most of us don't see and if we do, we can not appreciate it. They manage to find plain people who participate in magnificent stories. "No Country for Old Men" is no different and has already been added to my top 20 films of all time. Pictures like this can bring back people to cinema and reignite the passion for American films. While some complain about the ending deviating from the book, I do not believe this film misses a beat. It has also been complained about because of its violence, but the blood and bullets in this film are part of its symbolism. Its poetic beauty with the backdrop of southern Texas and Mexico, allows us to see the beauty in many forgotten places in our country. It also delves so well into the topic of are the times changing or are people changing. If I can recommend anyone with a brain, an eye for beauty and an earnest interest in seeing how to bring romance to a bloody thriller, you need to see this film. If only for the haunting magic that Bardem has brought to my dreams and most likely yours.