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Sunday, March 23, 2008
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Thanks to my rather ribald fraternity days in college I once had the privilege of seeing an 18-inch-long turd with three evenly spaced rest marks that was lovingly encased in a polished plexiglass display case. That's a mighty big piece of shit -- but it is nothing compared to the crap that comprises the lugubrious re-telling of Cormac McCarthy's novel, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, by none other than the celebrated Cohen Brothers.
Oh Brothers, What Art Thou Thinking?
The same question should be directed to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Four Oscars -- including Best Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role? Jeez-oh-flip, BONZO GOES TO COLLEGE was more worthy of an Academy Award and Javier Bardem's cardboard character portrayal is so flimsy, it isn't even corrugated.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Bardem may not have actually appeared in this film. Reliable sources have told Needtovent that the undeserving Oscar-winning actor never showed up on the set and his place was secretly taken by his more-than-capable understudy, Johnny. Yep, Johnny -- there's no last name -- seen here in a rare file photo with his now-deceased mentor, Senor Wences. Well, that does explain things to some degree...
In today's marketplace an increasing number of feature films are shot on High-Definition Video and the common mantra is that the image quality is as good as if it were shot on film. Well, for some reason Cinematographer Roger Deakins, utilizing the excellent 35mm Kodak Vision2 filmstock, has managed to make NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN look like it was shot on a relatively cheap consumer-grade video camera. Talk about role reversal -- or should I say roll reversal?
Three things can be said that are complimentary. One -- Josh Brolin delivers a convincing performance as Llewelyn Moss. Two -- Tommy Lee Jones, as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, is as solid as ever. Three -- the highly controversial ending works, and it works well. While the vast majority of reviewers simply didn't "get" the final scenes, the Cohens deserve recognition for a poignant and satisfactory denouement.
Having said this, I must add that the denouement concerning these particular old men also brings a much appreciated end to a motion picture that any self-respecting cineaste or AARP member will agree is a bigger flop than Dick Fosbury.
Oscar be damned.