Classic Thursdays: No Country for Old Men

Posted: June 27, 2013 in Classic Thursdays, Movie/show reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Let me explain the new series I just started, Classic Thursdays. I write a review of a classic movie every other week of the month. I review movies given the status of classics by more than a few individuals, and write whether or not I think they deserve their classic status. There will be some spoilers, but I’ll be sure to write a warning before a massive one. So, for the first post in the new series, I decided to take on a relatively new classic called No Country for Old Men.

Roger Ebert

That was taken from the late Roger Ebert’s ten best films of 2007. And if he called it a perfect movie, I think No Country for Old Men counts as a classic in the sense that it received almost universal critical acclaim. In fact, there’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to what it all means. There’s also a notable film critic that chose No Country for Old Men as the #1 movie of the decade, and MSN chose it as best film of the decade as well.

So, hopefully, that explains why I’ve chosen it as the first movie for Classic Thursdays. I remember a good friend of mine recommended it to me a year ago, and told me that it was his favorite movie. So, I watched the first eighteen minutes, and wasn’t impressed.

At the time, I really wasn’t in the mood for something so serious, so I decided to watch it another time. Then I watched it maybe a few months ago, and I gained perspective on the movie. It is a good movie, but I don’t consider it a classic. Let me explain.

In the first thirty minutes, you’d think that the main character is Llewelyn Moss (portrayed by Josh Brolin). But, the real main character is Anton Chigurh (portrayed by Javier Bardem). He is also the antagonist. Josh Brolin plays a hunter that stumbles upon the aftermath of a bloody shootout between two different drug cartels, and finds a suitcase of money. He takes it and hides it at his home. It isn’t long, of course, before the cartel finds out that it was him who took the money because he visits the scene of the crime again just as they arrive.

It’s at this point that you realize that his character isn’t very bright. I mean. Let’s face it. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. But, he does know how to fight back and run. I can give him that. Eventually, the drug cartel sends Anton Chigurh (don’t worry if you can’t pronounce his name. No one else in the movie can, either) and a game of cat and mouse ensues.

I’m reminded of an exchange between two characters on the sitcom, That 70’s Show.

Michael Kelso: “Let the game of cat and mouse begin!” 

Fez: “What happens to the cat if the mouse is retarded?”

And at times, you can get frustrated with Josh Brolin’s character. I discovered a good way to stop being frustrated with him, though. I came to terms with the fact that Javier Bardem’s character is the main character. So, I simply started rooting for Anton Chigurh. I know, horrible of me. But, I enjoyed the movie immensely once I started to think of Anton as the protagonist.

Warning. There will be spoilers from this point on. Look away now.

Looked away? All right. Now I’m going to do my best to “analyze” this movie. Though I’m horrible at proper analysis..

no-country-for-old-men-6542

A lot of people have complained about the last thirty minutes of this movie. Why? Well, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) gets killed by the OTHER cartel offscreen. Yup. Anton Chigurh kills Llewelyn’s wife, and lives to kill another day. It ends with Tommy Lee Jones’ delivering a staggeringly awesome performance as he tells his wife about his dream. Now, in an attempt to give you a fresh analysis, I didn’t read the entire Wikipedia page on it. I’m going to give you my take on it, and if it lines up with the take of all the other people.. well, good for me. If not, well, good for them, I guess?

Anyways. Llewelyn Moss reminds me a lot of sheep. And I’m reminded of the idea that humans are really smarter sheep. I think the reason why a lot of people have complained about Josh Brolin’s character is because it feels so familiar. He’s a normal guy, right? And it makes people wonder how they would act if they were in his situation.

And what truly makes people dislike his character is simply because there is a chance that they would panic just like him. Anton Chigurh, in that sense, is more like a wolf. This feels really cliche, I know, but this is what I felt when I watched this movie. Anton Chigurh is an unstoppable force, and everyone knows it. Josh Brolin, however, is not the immovable object.

I think the Old Men are the immovable object. (Going off the wayside a bit there, Jian.)

Well, I was thinking about the paradox about the unstoppable force and immovable object, right. And while I’m not the best informed on this theory (hardly), I do think that the character of Anton Chigurh fits as the unstoppable force. And I think that the pedestal that the Old Men (basically, our ancestors) reflects a lot of what people think nowadays. They will always look back to the past, and romanticize it. For the majority, it’s part of our nature. Every generation thinks that the world is going to end with them.

Anton Chigurh’s job is to mock them for hero worshipping the past so much. Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes look to the past, and think, “Well, everything was good back then. No psychos like we have today.”

And I’d be completely wrong! One of todays biggest misconceptions among the populous is that crime has gone up. In reality, crime has gone down by 25% since the 1950’s. Crimes went largely unreported back then because we didn’t have the technology to really do anything about a lot of crime.

Now, if someone sneezes and wipes the snot on a handbag at a store, the police know about it. The media, in part, helps feed this idea. The media wasn’t as well-informed in the 1950’s, and crime reporters didn’t hear that much about crime. (In fact, L.A. Confidential represents the end of the era where the police didn’t tell the media about practically every crime.)

I’m part of a good generation. Sure, we have our own little problems (don’t get me started about our celebrities), but it’s not as bad as the Middle Ages, is it?

BELL
Okay. Two of ’em. Both had my father. It’s peculiar. I’m older now’n he ever was by twenty years. So in a sense he’s the younger man.

I think it was that particular line which gave away the fact that this was a satire of modern culture. Or, at least, that’s how I view it.

Now, I could be wrong and I could be misinterpreting the movie. But that’s the point, I think, of this movie. To make up your own opinions on it. I remember a scene from Life of Pi where Pi’s father tells him that animals have no souls. What you see in their eyes is your own thoughts and emotions reflected back at you.

I think that’s what movies are, really. And this is what was reflected back at me when I watched it.

So, is this a classic? I don’t think it’s earned that, yet. Is this a great movie? It is. I enjoyed this movie immensely, and I like the fact that I had to think about a lot of its themes. I hope you’ve enjoyed the first post of my new series. Comment if you have any thoughts to add, or if you completely disagree with me on every level. I would love to hear what you guys think.

~Jian

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