Words By S.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

No Country For Old Men/I’m Not There.

Filed under: Film,Music — S @ 12:23 pm

No Country movie poster

On Monday, I went to see the latest from the Coen brothers, No Country For Old Men. A film whose story is based around the idea that life is not as simple as “good prevails over evil”.

The central story is about a man named Llewelyn Moss (played by a wonderful Josh Brolin) who finds a stash of money, takes it, and is then hunted by the most “evil” villain alive – a man named Anton Chigurh (played by a fantastic Javier Bardim).

Tommy Lee Jones plays Sheriff Bell, a pre-retiree who is becoming disillusioned by the evils in the world, and who wants to help Moss save his own life. Sheriff Bell is, essentially, who the title of the film is about.

The film is done beautifully in a very subdued style. We watch as events happen and paths cross, all the while watching Bell grapple with the decision to give up.

And though there are moments where a bit of dialog is funny, it’s circumstantial humor and is not relied on to keep the film going. Very rare is it, especially now, to have a suspense or drama that does not rly a little bit on comic relief. In fact, it’s the lack of the comic relief that keeps the film feeling very real.

In all, the film is damn near perfect, with little – if any, flaws at all. I would highly recommend it.

I'm Not There poster

Also on Monday, I went to see the film I’m Not There. You may recall in a previous post, my having mentioned wanting it see it in spite of a hatred of Bob Dylan’s music.

While the movie didn’t make me like Bob Dylan, it did give me more of an appreciation of his music. I’ve always thought his lyrics were amazing, and if he had a better voice, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would love him.

The film was really good, and also very different – maybe even a little disjointed.

On the surface, it is a film about Bob Dylan and his life, however it’s done in a way that makes it about aspects of his life, career, personality, and songs as well. Thus, no one character is completely Bob Dylan, so much as a piece of him or a song.

It is definitely a film that requires you to be familiar with his life,  or else it would prove to be quite confusing.

As for individual performances, they all get a bravo – except Richard Gere, who I have to say I was highly unimpressed with. His acting just seemed to be a little flat. He reminded me of Richard Gere in all of his other movies (except for one).

Part of the reason I was drawn to see it was due to the fact that Cate Blanchett played one of his personas. She was absolutely fantastic! Honestly, she may possibly have done the best Bob Dylan and her performance was downright flawless and perfect.

Christian Bale and Heath Ledger were pretty surprising. I would never have thought to picture Christian Bale playing a singer/songwriter, but it worked. Very well. Up until he had the strangest Bob Ross-like afro I’ve ever seen. In fact, I think it took away from his character because it was so distracting and funny that I couldn’t stop laughing. That, I blame completely on costume design.

Heath Ledger essentially played a similar aspect of Dylan as did Bale, but also combined it with a second aspect – that of Bob Dylan, family man. He acted in a way that I had never seen before, and it was great. He truly is a good actor, and this film definitely brought it out of him.

Perhaps the biggest surprise (and gem) was the performance from Marcus Carl Franklin, who played a character named Woody Guthrie. The kid acted and sang his butt off, and it was fucking great. I have never seen this kid before, and I don’t know where they found him, but if he continues to act as he did in this, he will have one hell of a career for sure.

What I did like about the film, and one of the reasons it did make me appreciate more of Dylan’s music, is that the entire film was drenched in his music. There were a combination of covers and his original singing, as well as some of the actors performing his songs. It was great. The film also probably possessed one of the best uses of ‘Stepping Stone’ (performed by The Monkees, and by far my favorite Dylan song) ever.

I think one of the best things about the way this film was done was the creativity of it. It truly is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I think that – in addition to the outstanding performances – is what made me like the film so much.

Again, I’d definitely recommend it – though, with the warning that it most definitely is not a biopic.



  1. I love the Coen brothers films and the way things just start going wrong from the smallest errors and compound to great tragegies a la Blood Simple and Fargo. And Cate Blanchett – perhaps my favourite actress after Meryl Streep.
    I’m glad you have a softer spot for Dylan now – he really is a gift to us. Oh, the Monkees song is a great song but it is not one of Dylan’s. Maybe you were thinking of “Like a Rolling Stone?” Anyway, you’ve talked me into seeing the film. Thanks.

    Comment by Oscarandre — Saturday, 8 December 2007 @ 6:43 am | Reply

  2. Are you sure it wasn’t written by him at least? During the ending credits, I thought he was given the “written by” credit. I could be wrong.

    But yeah, they’re both very good films.

    Comment by S — Saturday, 8 December 2007 @ 1:53 pm | Reply

  3. From WIkipedia: “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” is a song by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart. It was a hit for The Monkees (US #20) and was covered by many artists, such as Paul Revere and the Raiders (whose version actually predated the Monkees), The Sex Pistols, and Minor Threat. It was also and Major hit for PJ & Duncan in 1996 where it got number 11 in the British Singles Chart.

    From Vesten: It was also covered, quite poorly (yet to hilarious effect) I might add, by death metal band Six Feet Under.

    Comment by Vesten Pilsbreeg — Saturday, 22 December 2007 @ 11:19 pm | Reply

  4. I like your comments on “I’m Not There” and the way you write, except when you say it’s “definitely not a biopic.” What makes you say that? Because it doesn’t have all the cheesy conventions of the standard forced redemption story that usually goes under that label? If the term is taken more literally as “biographical picture” I’d say it’s considerably more one than the usual fare….

    Comment by YogaforCynics — Friday, 29 August 2008 @ 2:26 am | Reply

  5. Thank you very much for the compliment! The reason I say that it’s definitely not a biopic isn’t because of some cheeseball convention. The reason I say that is that biographies detail and chronologize a persons life, whereas this detailed eras and aspects of Dylan himself.

    Comment by S — Saturday, 6 September 2008 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

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