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May 30, 2007 2:19 AM   Subscribe

Joel and Ethan Coen rarely disappoint. Their new film, No Country for Old Men (based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy), is no exception. See also: Cannes.
posted by chuckdarwin (55 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. This looks good. Real good. The guy on the phone, putting his feet up on the bed to get them out of the way of the spreading puddle of blood. That's some classic Coen, right there. Can't wait to see it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:33 AM on May 30, 2007


I'm a big fan of The Culture Show, and they were raving about it.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:37 AM on May 30, 2007


The hollywoodreporter.com review linked in the FPP was interesting in that it criticized the film for being too faithful to the source novel.

Looking forward to this one.
posted by sidereal at 3:58 AM on May 30, 2007


Wow! My mind is blown. I just read this book about two weeks ago, and a couple of times throughout I said to myself "This kinda reminds me of Blood Simple". I'll be first in line for this one, it should redeem the bros. for Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers, both wastes of time.

I'm reading The Road by McCarthy right now and it's even more chilling than NCFOM.
posted by zardoz at 4:29 AM on May 30, 2007


I am really, really excited ... this might redeem them from the Ladykillers poop jokes.

I can't wait. The rest of their movies constitute one of the few arguments against the death of culture in this age of banality.
posted by Hey, Cupcake! at 4:31 AM on May 30, 2007


I really liked that book, but I'm not sure I can stomach watching a movie of it. The sheer grimness of it is was overwhelming some times. At least with a book, you can put it down and get a little relief. Two hours straight...I don't know.

That said, I'm glad the Coen's are at the helm of this one. McCarthy really deserves the proper treatment.
posted by hwestiii at 4:44 AM on May 30, 2007


hwestiii, better yet, there's no music in the film.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:56 AM on May 30, 2007


I gotta say of all the McCarthy I've read No Country for Old Men seems like the best candidate for the movie treatment. It is a very cinematic book and there is lots of motion in the story. I liked Blood Meridian better, but the sheer depravity of it aside, the story doesn't seem well suited to 1.5-3 hours of light and sound. NCFOM though, it has people chasing after people, people narrowly escaping, people being still so as not to be caught. It is a very cinematic novel. And though it is certainly more substantive than most film, it is not so dense that it would feel muddled in two hours. Great books seldom make great movies, and while NCFOM is not a truly great book it is a very good book that could maybe be a great movie. I'm looking forward to it.
posted by I Foody at 5:13 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


"It's a mess, ain't it, Sheriff?"
"If it ain't, it'll do 'til the mess gets here."

Wonderful stuff.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on May 30, 2007


Regarding the faithfulness to the book, I can hardly imagine it being otherwise. When first reading it a couple years ago, I recall thinking that it read more like a screenplay than a conventional novel. It probably required next to no work to adapt. All the effort would most likely be in getting the tone and the performances right.

What with this movie and the Oprah thing for "The Road", Mr. McCarthy is really enjoying quite a day in the public sun. Does anyone here know if the promised interview has been broadcast yet? I'm really looking forward to that, although I'd rather it be with someone other than Oprah, like Charlie Rose or Terry Gross.
posted by hwestiii at 5:19 AM on May 30, 2007


there's no music in the film.

Wow. That's a throwback to the 70's, isn't it? Network, for example (one of my all time personal faves), had no soundtrack, and I think it was a better movie for it. Soundtracks these days often feature way too many songs, and the film music is so often crappy, hitting you over the head with *something bad's gonna happen!* or *this is the sad part* or whatever: it can get really tiresome. I think it's a good (and fairly daring) move on their part to not have a soundtrack.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:22 AM on May 30, 2007


I love the Coen brothers, and I too hope that this is a step upwards from the crapulence that was The Ladykillers.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:22 AM on May 30, 2007


I think I'm one of the few people who kind of enjoyed The Ladykillers. It's their weakest, to be sure (although I still haven't seen Intolerable Cruelty), but the Coens' shit is most filmmakers' gold.
posted by brundlefly at 5:42 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. That's a throwback to the 70's,

Only in the USA. Outside America, plenty of films don't have scores. Haneke's never had any non-diagetic music in any of his films, for instance.

Presonally, I've been tired of the Coens' output for a long time. The Ladykillers, O Brother Where Art Thou, Intolerable Cruelty... they may be so-so films for Hollywood but compared to Miller's Crossing and Blood Simple they're utter shit.
posted by dobbs at 5:43 AM on May 30, 2007


I'm about as big of a Cormac McCarthy fan as anyone and I can't get too excited about this. It's not the Coen brothers, either, I love most of their movies, especially Blood Simple, Hudsucker Proxy, Miller's Crossing and Big Lebowski.

First, I'm just not much on making movies out of books. It doesn't appeal to me all that much. But more than that, No Country for Old Men is not a very good book. I mentioned this in an earlier McCarthy thread, but that won't stop me from repeating myself. On the Cormac McCarthy forum when NCFOM came out, someone commented, "I guess Cormac is out of the business of writing masterpieces". It's snarky and false, as the Road is an excellent book, but it gets across what a huge disappointment it was for some of us. Not that the forum is full of people with my prejudices, NFCOM has its fans and many anxiously await the movie. One of my issues is NCFOM is preachy which is very atypical for a McCarthy book. There's an outright championing of the stance of the Sheriff who is likable enough, but there is this goofy earnestness about it that is offputting and feels like a 'message' is being pushed down your throat. On top of that there's a pretty big plot hole (the assassins in the car - how do they know where to go?) and even a historical anomaly with the year and the availability of ATMs. That doesn't sound like much and it's no world ender, but McCarthy tends to be scrupulous in historical detail. As some have suggested it looks like something written offhand in the 70s, and now that he is reaching the end of his life he went ahead and published it. Unfortunately he has such status as a writer that no editor had enough sway to get the faults of the book corrected.

The other part of it is that McCarthy by mostly avoiding internal monologue gives his books a very cinematic feel. But there is a ton in his books that can not be conveyed by the camera. This won't be much of an issue with NCFOM but will, in my opinion, doom Blood Meridian.

For those who are just getting into Cormac McCarthy from his two latest books, I recommend Suttree. The buzz on Blood Meridian is huge and most people know that it is his masterpiece. It's a great book, no doubt. Suttree is its near, if not complete, equal. It's the most comic of his books by far, and noticeably better than the rest of his work. It has one of the best endings I have read, and by endings not just the final words, or final chapter but even the last 1-200 pages have an incredible flow to them straight to the end.

And finally, for the fans who haven't heard, The Sunset Limited, his play, or rather 'novel in dramatic form' is out. At the opening, Cormac remarked to someone that each age has its great dramatist and that he wasn't it. Still, if you're a fan it's worth reading. It won't take you long.
posted by BigSky at 6:02 AM on May 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Joel and Ethan Coen rarely disappoint. Their new film, No Country for Old Men (based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy), is no exception.

This is one of my favorite constructions, because it's a setup that surprisingly hard to follow through on unimpeachably, and because it reads just fine if you don't think about it: at a glance, the meaning is obvious, but pull out the magnifying glass and things go south:

This new film is no exception to the case of either disappointing or (more commonly) not? So the film is either good or not good, with odds toward good but quality not made explicit at all! Cool. I think you could have a whole slew of films be an exception to a state of rarely disappointing—if most of them were disappointing, amidst a larger run of stuff that was mostly good—but a single film? What curious beast, by itself, could be an exception—or even be not an exception—to this broad probability, this state of corpus uncertainty?

I suppose if the film itself were mostly good but partly disappointing, that could work. But I'm pretty sure that wasn't the intended reading, which was "They don't disappoint with this film."

Maybe "As a rule, Joel and Ethan Coen don't disappoint; ..." would work better? Sounds less troublesome, anyway. Leaves open the implication of potential rare disappointments without the tricky conditional state.

Not a grammar flame. Not a rug-pull. Idle observation. New movie looks good. Hi! I'll shut up now.

posted by cortex at 6:03 AM on May 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


non-diagetic music

That would be "diegetic".

I dunno, I think O Brother and Intolerable Cruelty were rather better than "so-so films for Hollywood", and I look forward to seeing this. Even non-vintage Coens is a good deal better than most stuff.
posted by Wolof at 6:10 AM on May 30, 2007


That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees -
Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God's holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

-- William Butler Yeats
posted by spicynuts at 6:13 AM on May 30, 2007 [7 favorites]


Cortex: Dork squad!
posted by Jofus at 6:32 AM on May 30, 2007


I remain cautiously spasticly pants peeingly jumping up and down like a squealing little girl getting a pony excited.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:35 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this, first I'd heard of the film. It looks wonderful.
posted by voltairemodern at 6:48 AM on May 30, 2007


Holy cats, does that look good.
posted by squidfartz at 6:56 AM on May 30, 2007


You left out the most important info. Release dates November 9 (limited, US), November 21 (general, US). February and March, Europe and elsewhere. Seems kind of cruel.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:03 AM on May 30, 2007


Seconding BigSky. I like every other book of McCarthy's that I've read, but hated NCFOM. The only thing that could have redeemed it was if that obnoxious old sheriff had been killed in some horrible way, with maybe a full chapter of description.
posted by rfs at 7:10 AM on May 30, 2007


As usual, the GreenCine Daily roundup is the most comprehensive, including a talk with a Coens by A.O. Scott and tons more reviews.
posted by muckster at 7:10 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


cortex, every writer needs a good editor. How about:

Rebounding from a string of lacklustre efforts, Joel and Ethan Coen's new film, No Country for Old Men (based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy), is being compared to their early work. See also: Cannes.

Better?
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:22 AM on May 30, 2007


dances_with_sneetches, I didn't want to overcrowd the post with depressing details.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:24 AM on May 30, 2007


Reads like a dream, sir.
posted by cortex at 7:32 AM on May 30, 2007


Does BigSky's comment upthread warrant a spoiler alert?
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:34 AM on May 30, 2007


Different. Roger Ebert has a few things to say about the movie. Bummer it won't be released until November.
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:35 AM on May 30, 2007


Oprah interviews McCarthy on June 5th.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:42 AM on May 30, 2007


“Don't fall down apologizing.”
“Baby things happen, I can’t take them back.”

Like ears and razorblades, it is what you don’t see that is the most visceral. See you in line DW.
posted by MapGuy at 7:46 AM on May 30, 2007


And here's the Coens' contribution to Paris, je t'aime.

It's great. Steve Buscemi does no wrong.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 8:21 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh man. Looking forward to this.
posted by Merlyn at 8:22 AM on May 30, 2007


Personally I think McCarthy's Child of God (my favorite of his, the protagonist lives in a cave and ain't like most people), or maybe Outer Dark. And I can't think of anybody who could render those books as movies better than the Coen Bros., though David Lynch would come close. But most people would like the Border trilogy better of course; they've already done a movie of the first episode with that lovely Spanish chick who ditched Tom Polyphemus.
posted by davy at 8:32 AM on May 30, 2007


...though David Lynch would come close

Not a chance: Lynch would completely overplay his hand with the weirdness of McCarthy's stuff and totally lose the humanity of it. Coen Brothers are going to work wonders with this film.
posted by xmutex at 8:34 AM on May 30, 2007


Thanks flibbertigibbet. I was wondering how long it would take for the best bits of Paris je t'aime to show up online. That was a mediocre YouTube playlist masquerading as a movie all along, so I'm glad it found its natural home. Now where are the shorts by Bruno Podalydes, Gurinder Chadha, Isabel Coixet, and Olivier Assayas?
posted by muckster at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2007


I havn't heard anything about this but that clip looked pretty sweet.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 AM on May 30, 2007


cruel indeed. gonna try ignore this whole thread (except the link to Paris, Je T'aime.)
posted by ism at 8:43 AM on May 30, 2007


maybe mccarthy was rewriting the pardoner's tale
posted by punkbitch at 8:45 AM on May 30, 2007


Maybe McCarthy should write about The Great Cat Massacre. It'd make a fine movie; it's too bad Stanley Kubrick's long dead.
posted by davy at 9:04 AM on May 30, 2007


That was a mediocre YouTube playlist masquerading as a movie all along

Well, not to derail the thread, but I quite liked it. Taken as an overall love letter to Paris, I thought it worked. But then, I love Paris, so YMMV.
posted by lumpenprole at 9:09 AM on May 30, 2007


xmutex, don't sell Lynch so short. Haven't you seen The Straight Story? I know it was an aberration, but he definitely has the capability to tone the weirdness down.

Also, we shouldn't worry about the Ladykillers too much... how many contemporary American filmmakers have made so many amazing movies without any duds? John Sayles comes to mind, but not many others.
posted by ORthey at 9:21 AM on May 30, 2007


the original ladykiller's is an excellent movie, and I have a hard time believing that the brothers didn't realize maybe it'd've just been better to let it lie.

Miller's Crossing still the best.

I look forward to this.
posted by Busithoth at 9:37 AM on May 30, 2007


Thank god - I'd heard rumors of a Blood Meridian movie, and as well discussed above, that would be likely to disappoint. It's one of my favorite books, but to be remotely true to it would be a financial and cultural disaster I think - at least as a Major Motion Picture.

Also - I mostly agree with Suttree as an entry point, but it is a lot more rambling (and long) than Blood Meridian. All the Pretty Horses is a good compromise, and probably what I'd recommend for anyone I thought might not be ready for BM. That said, I sic all my friends on the latter and then have long arguments about Evil and History - great fun.

Certainly not The Road. I think that was sort of a technical exercise, and interesting, but not a great place to start.
posted by freebird at 9:59 AM on May 30, 2007


I just heard NPR's film critic at large raving about this (and Javier Bardem in particular) on Fresh Air.

I have to agree with dobbs about their CV: they've done nothing this decade of comparative quality to their older films. Still, everything I'm seeing about this film makes it sound like something worth getting excited about.

Seems like there are quite a few films this year worth getting excited about... it makes me happy.
posted by zebra3 at 11:11 AM on May 30, 2007


freebird: The film version of Blood Meridian is no longer a rumor, likely thanks to McCarthy's Pulitzer/Oprahtzer putting him in the limelight.

Too bad Ridley Scott got it. I had my fingers crossed for Terrence Malick.
posted by xmutex at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2007


I loved No Country For Old Men. I liked it more than I did The Road, which I thought had a great desolate atmosphere but was otherwise pretty empty. It surprised me when I found out that NCfOM was critically reviled (I thought BigSky's comments above were excellent, though).

Like zardoz, I thought of the Coen Brothers all throughout the book, and flipped when I found out they were going to direct it.

I saw Paris, Je T'aime last night and enjoyed it. Only two or three of the sketches were unspeakably bad (the one with the blind boy was particularly amateur), but five or six were fantastic, and the rest made me smile.
posted by painquale at 12:18 PM on May 30, 2007


Too bad Ridley Scott got it. I had my fingers crossed for Terrence Malick.

Actually, I think Sam Peckinpah would have been the one to do it justice, but that ain't gonna happen for obvious reasons.
posted by QuestionableSwami at 12:40 PM on May 30, 2007


I am cautiously optimistic. As a rule, I hate people turning my favorite novels into films. Also, this is well darker and less funny material than the Coens have ever touched. But the Coens have made between two and five of my ten to twenty favorite movies, so we shall see.

But you know I'll be there opening night!
posted by kosem at 12:49 PM on May 30, 2007


One of the problems with Blood Meridian is casting the Judge. Another is the scene where the Kid has a dream of the Judge with the coldforger and there is that great sentence that declares what the Judge is. How does that translate to film? Or the epilogue? There are a number of sections where it is not description, nor dialogue but almost poetry, and those parts are crucial, or it's all just slaughter and atrocities.

Do people want to see that? How about a naked 14 year old girl leashed to a stake, fed from a bowl like a dog? Hey, I like it a bit rough myself, but that seems a bit extreme for the theaters. Not the sort of thing you want to watch with elderly female relatives, perhaps.
posted by BigSky at 12:56 PM on May 30, 2007


How about a naked 14 year old girl leashed to a stake, fed from a bowl like a dog?

Wasn't that the ad campaign for Black Snake Moan?
posted by lumpenprole at 3:11 PM on May 30, 2007


I'm with BigSky as far as no country for old men is concerned but I disagree about the movie.

No Country for Old Men is the least interesting McCarthy book I've read, for its preachiness, its mediocre thriller plot, all sorts of reasons. Still very very readable, I mean his talents as a writer are still there, but I couldn't figure out what he was trying to do with this book. Was it as superficial and unsubtle as it seemed, or did I miss something?

Blood Meridian is one of the best novels I've ever read, at least in terms of modern literature, and in some ways it was hard to believe they were written by the same person. It made me wonder if McCarthy was finished as an interesting novelist, which is something that does happen.

But I think it'll make a great movie especially in the hands of the Coens. Its the only movie I'm excited about seeing this summer.
posted by jackbrown at 7:29 AM on May 31, 2007


The only Coen brother's movie I've liked is Raising Arizona.
posted by serazin at 3:34 PM on May 31, 2007


I remain cautiously spasticly pants peeingly jumping up and down like a squealing little girl getting a pony excited.

DFW? Is... is that you?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 PM on May 31, 2007


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