No Country For Old Men

F and I went to see No Country For Old Men last night, and I really liked it. Now, before you go on about how it’s been out for months and ask how I could possibly be so lazy, please note that our movie theatre is very small, so we only get major first run movies or movies which have been nominated for things. This is a source of great disappointment to me, because I know that I’m missing out on a lot of great movies, and I was pleased to see No Country For Old Men finally get here.

I’ve been trying to be better lately when reviewing things to spell out why I liked and didn’t like them, because I notice that I have a tendency to just make a blanket statement and leave it at that. In addition to not being very interesting or helpful, I think this also suggests a lack of adequate probing and exploration.

So here are some concrete reasons for liking this movie:

1. The music. Or, rather, the lack thereof. I really, really liked that the music in this film was extremely minimal, because it forced the movie itself to create a mood. I feel like a lot of films use music as a manipulative tool, and in this case, people were actually forced to, you know, act, to set a scene. I also felt that this made the film more real to me, because who goes around with an orchestra all the time? The sound also felt very raw and real to me; not dirty, just…not all tidied up and neat.
2. The cinematography. There were a lot of great angles, not in the “oooh we’re hip and funky way,” but in a crisp, clear, desolate kind of way that really fit with the film. They also used light really well. I felt like the cinematography created a very distinct feel for the film; I liked the use of light, I liked the use of shadows, I liked the sometimes peculiar angles. There’s one scene where a character slowly closes all the curtains in a room, filling it with darkness except for the light which bleeds around the curtains: I liked that. I liked it even more when he opened the door and a slash of bright light filled the room. I liked the sweeping shots of the Texas landscape, and I liked the tight, close quarters shots too.

3. The feel. The film had a very timeless sense about it which I really enjoyed. I liked the use of colors and textures to create various moods, and the mood felt…bleak. Desperate. Like the novel. I dug that.  Again, without the use of music, the film was really required to support itself, and I really liked that.

4. I also like the scenes with the sheriff a lot; I thought they were well framed, and I liked the development of the character, a sort of Stage Manager* who also interacts with the other characters. The scene at the end was…well…fucking perfect. I don’t want to say more than that because I want you to go see this movie (and if you have, I think you know what I am talking about with the sheriff).

Beyond these points, it was just a damn good movie. It was compelling, and strong, and different. If Hollywood could produce more films like this, I would be a much happier camper. This film really showcased the many great things that this medium is capable of, and it made me gravely disappointed in all the schlock coming out of Hollywood these days. Although I have been seeing some damn fine movies lately. Juno, for example. This gives me hope for humanity.
*I am referring to the Stage Manager in Our Town, not a theatrical stage manager, in case you are confused. Think Our Town is cheesy? Go read it again and try paying attention this time.