A Thunder Matt Movie Minute

November 15, 2007 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

No Country For Old Men

"A movie so scary that you will pee your pants and punch a small child."

The phrase 'knock your dick in the dirt' has risen to prominence in recent months here at the Saloon. Now, I could be a douche and take all the credit for coming up with such a poetic, awe-inspiring piece of prose, but in all honesty I think it was Nikki Sixx who I heard coin the phrase during some VH1 special on Heavy Metal. Perhaps it was a Behind the Music. Either way the 'dick' part was bleeped and I just assumed it was 'dick'. Looking back, one could surmise that he used some other euphemism instead of 'dick'. Take 'cock' for instance. Perfectly acceptable. Penis. Unlikely, as that seems too technical. Really the options are endless. Rod, chowder dumper, flesh twinkie, eight inches of blunt fury...I could go on, but fact is, most of you have stopped reading by now. Where was I? Oh yes. 'Dick in the dirt' just has a pleasant ring to it. Maybe it's the alliteration. Anyway, the last thing you want to do is beat a phrase (or in this case, a dick) into the ground (or in this case, the dirt).

But ladies and gents, "No Country For Old Men" knocked my dick in the dirt.

Based on the book by famous recluse Cormac McCarthy, "No Country" has a fairly simple premise*. The year is 1980. A hunter (Josh Brolin) stumbles across a brutal murder scene in the Rio Grande and finds a giant stash of heroin and a suitcase filled with two million dollars. He wisely chooses the money over the heroin. He makes a few unfortunate decisions and soon finds himself being hunted by a serial killer who goes by the name Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who is in turn being hunted by a world-weary sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones).

Directed by the Coen Brothers, this one is certainly more Blood Simple than it is The Big Lebowski. But even with this serious material, their dark humor and smart dialogue are still on display, which is good, as it helps ease the tension. It's not until after you chuckle that you realize your whole body had been tensed up and that you may have even forgotten to breathe.

The first hour and a half is a atmospheric thriller of unparalleled greatness. Javier Bardem, whose haircut makes him a rather unlikely candidate for a Monkees cover band, is great as Chigurah, the most terrifying screen presence since Hannibal Lecter. Josh Brolin is equally great as the unwitting hero, trying to stay one step ahead of this force of evil. Tommy Lee Jones, who was actually born with a Sheriff's uniform on, is solid too, like a cold glass of 2% milk.

The last half hour of the film is an abrupt and quite jarring shift, in both plot and tone. It is one of those endings that critics and pseudo-intellectuals will probably rave about, but will cause general movie going audiences to scratch their heads and let out a collective 'what the fuck?' It is both ambitious and ambiguous. Some people will love it. Others will probably abhor it.

Personally, I'm torn on the ending. At first I was frustrated. Dammit. How could such a great movie have such a unsatisfying ending? Alas, I am beginning to have a change of heart on this one. For one thing, I can't get this movie out of my head. That has got to be a good sign. I'm jonesing to see it again, like Pete Doherty looking for his next fix. Right now I am about halfway through the book (a quick read) and the ending supposedly stays true to the book. I think (or hope) once I finish the book, I will be able to make more of an informed judgement about the movie and hopefully the book will answer some of my nagging questions. That said, I highly recommend reading the book first, then seeing the movie. I imagine that the ending wouldn't be so jarring had I read the book first. If you can't read (in which case, why are you trying to read this?), listen to the audio book.

Either way, "No Country" is one of the better movies of the year, and one that I think will be looked upon as a 'masterpiece' given time. The cinematography is top notch and the score is minimalist. In fact, there really is no score or music. Even the closing credits roll over a quiet black screen. The only thing to be heard at the end was the sound of me whimpering followed by the large, mustachioed man in the seat next to me asking me to please get off his lap. Picking my dick up off of the dirt, I kindly obliged.

Thunder Matt Rating: 4.25 Spittoons Out of 5, upon initial viewing. This could go as high as five upon completion of the book, coupled with a second viewing and the completion of my GED.

*I say 'simple premise' on most of my reviews mainly because I hate typing up a synopsis. I usually just crib it from IMDB.