With over seventy seven awards given to it, most recent of which are two Oscar’s for best director and best film, how do you even objectively watch No Country for Old Men after hearing about all of its nominations and wins? There’s a certain hype level that one can’t let go of when they’re about to watch the film that won best picture and while you have that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that nothing can live up to its hype, you find yourself so wrapped up in No Country for Old Men that you begin not to care about its awards—you just want to see the conclusion.
In No Country for Old Men, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon a bloody massacre in the desert. After following the blood trail, he finds the “last man standing” from the fight. With this man was a briefcase of over two million dollars. Deciding to take the money no matter the consequences, Moss puts his entire family in danger as a ruthless killer named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) begins charging after him on a bloody and brutal warpath. Amidst all this violence is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) who is forced to try to deduce where Moss is and, in the process, avoid getting killed by Chigurh.
At its core, No Country for Old Men sounds like a simple case of money theft that turns into a bloody massacre for all involved. It’s interesting, however, to note that while the film seems run of the mill for the majority of the time, it’s not until the ending do we get a sense of what all the buzz about the film was. It’s certainly a curious ending that will no doubt have you scratching your head as it leaves so many loose ends open that you wonder if you completely missed something while watching it. I actually found myself rewinding back through the last part of the film to rewatch it to try to pick up on something more.
I won’t spoil any of the film here, but it is quite the mind bender. The performances in the film are what will keep you riveted, as Josh Brolin (who seems to have been in all of the big films this past year, including In the Valley of Elah and American Gangster) in the lead is nothing short of magnificent. Those who kept up on the Oscar’s will know that Javier Bardem won best supporting actor, although after seeing the film you may question that; not his performance, which is top notch, but his billing as “supporting.” Bardem took center stage throughout the majority of the film, so why he was relegated to supporting, I’m not entirely sure.
Surprisingly the language level of No County for Old Men barely registers; I honestly don’t remember any foul language in the least, something I’m rather shocked to see after the latest barrage of R-rated films I’ve watched, but the violence level was definitely a step above other films I’ve seen of late. The gun that Chigurh uses is nothing short of complete brutality and it may very well be the most destructive weapon I’ve ever seen grace a film. It’s truly brutal to witness and some of the resulting gore because of that gun is nearly gut turning.
After the film’s final credits rolled I knew I had to flip on over to the extras on the DVD, but I wasn’t given any answers there, nor did I find any answers from my resulting online searches. It seems the ending is so open-ended and so vague that it can only be left to one’s own interpretation; it’s certainly an unexpected result to a rather action packed film, but it certainly explains why it won the Awards it did—up until that point the Academy had no real reason to nominate an average thriller, but the end result was enough of a twist to warrant some awards.
Having said that I don’t think that No Country for Old Men deserved the best picture of the year award, if only because I don’t think a film can win for a simple twist ending. Sure the film preceding the twist was wonderful, but by no means did it reinvent the wheel in ways that would warrant repeated awards. Not to knock the Coen Brothers in the least—they delivered a hell of a film, but I really don’t think it warranted all the praise it got. Then again, what really does?
Between the superb directing, excellent acting and a pace that can’t be beat, No Country for Old Men is a strong film that shouldn’t be missed. Just don’t expect it to blow you away like the awards it received would lead you to believe. Recommended.
Now with the ruckus about this film having had a full year to die down, Buena Vista has revisited the Coen Brothers 2007 Best Picture winner. Unlike the last release which sported few quotes about the reviews and awards for this film on the packaging, this new two-disc (or three-disc, if you get the DVD) edition is literally splattered with acclaims. And when you lose the reflective foil and embossed slipcover? The entire back art is made up of four quotes from AP, Rolling Stone, Vogue and Roger Ebert. Those confused by the lack of extras and pomp made for the original DVD/Blu-ray release need not worry now—this release is positively loaded up with both.
Stepping into the Blu-ray packaging we find the two discs (second disc is entirely devoted to the digital copy), as well as a few inserts that include the redemption code for the digital copy as well as an advertisement for other Blu-ray releases as well as the coupon for $10 back for trading up to this new edition. That alone makes this new release even more attractive—double dips generally suck, but when given the option for a $10 rebate? It goes down smoother.
First up on the extras docket is a Making Of (24:29, SD) documentary, which, along with “Working with the Coens” (8:07, SD) and “Diary of a County Sheriff” (6:44, SD) are all repeats from the original March 2008 DVD/Blu-ray releases. Now we get to move onto the new extras, which starts off with Josh Brolin’s Unauthorized Look Behind-the-Scenes (9:19, SD) and ends with Press Timeline. I know what you’re thinking—that’s it!? Well…not really. The Press Timeline consists of seventeen bonus segments that are made up of everything from press interviews to full episodes of Charlie Rose and news station segments. These obviously don’t show much in terms of on-set construction, but we got enough of that from the other extras. Instead these pieces focus on the press coverage of the film and the interviews that took place along the way.
Sadly there is no retrospective look back at the film’s success or even an audio commentary, but still this new release makes up for the extremely lack-luster presentation of the old release when it comes to the extras. Sadly the technical specifications are actually a little worse this time around. The AVC encoded transfer returns and looks as brilliantly stunning, crisp and clear as ever, but instead of the uncompressed PCM 5.1 track this time around, we get the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. A step down? Yes and no. Honestly the difference between the two is negligible, but considering one is uncompressed and the other one uses some form of codec, it’s a bit of a toss up when it comes to this release. Either you upgrade for the new extras or you don’t, as the visual and audio presentation, while still amazing and engaging, just isn’t different from the last release.
No Country for Old Men is a film that is worthy of its title. The violence portrayed here and the remorse felt by Tommy Lee Jones’s character that he must police a world that is so hellbent on destroying and killing itself really makes him pine for the simpler days. No Country for Old Men is a brutally violent film, but whatever you garner from the final result will ultimately decide whether you want to own this film. The special features given here are definitely a step up when you compare it to the previous release, but you gain nothing new other than some press material that you may or may not have found floating around on the various websites online, so keep that in mind before picking this one up. Having said that, this release comes Recommended for the film alone.
No Country for Old Men: Collector’s Edition arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on April 7th.