Accountant: Are you going to shoot me?
Anton: That depends, do you see me?
In my opinion No Country For Old Men is to the Coen Brother’s as the Departed is to Martin Scorcese. Both films are absolutely outstanding and deserve their Oscar wins but they should not have been their director’s first win. The Coen Brother’s first Oscar Best Picture win should have come from Fargo and their second win should have been for the brilliantly shot, acted and directed No Country For Old Men.
No Country for Old Men is a chase. The entire film is a single chase that continues to escalate and get completely out of control. The catalyst for the film long chase is a discovery made by Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) while hunting. In what seems to be a drug trade gone bad, Llewelyn finds a number of dead bodies and a bag of cash. Llewelyn takes the cash and drugs, heading home to convince his wife, Carla Jean Moss (Kelly Macdonald), to leave town. Eventually figuring out that Llewelyn has the money, the psychopath Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is sent to recover it, leaving a path of death and destruction in his wake. Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) is also hired to recover the money but uses less violence and is much less successful. Local sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who is appalled at the growing violence in the area follows the mayhem, attempting to stop and ultimately figure out what’s going on.
I have always seen Coen Brother films as comedies or dramas. A lot of drama bleeds into their comedies and a lot of comedy bleeds into their dramas. No Country for Old Men is a drama and one with almost no comedy in it. No matter what Coen Brother’s film you see it is always filled with outstanding performances. Both Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones both give outstanding performances but the star of the film is Javier Bardem, giving a truly terrifying performance. In a film featuring characters that can all be classified as loners, Anton is not only a loner but a complete outcast. A psychopath that has the inability to have a normal conversation with anybody, Anton decides if those he meets lives or dies by a flip of a coin. His weapon of choice is either a silenced shotgun or a portable machine used to kill cows by blowing out their brains. Anton is one of my favorite cinema villains of all time.
There are many different aspects of this film to analyze but one of the most interesting is the soundtrack because there is not one. Throughout the entire film there is no score or background music. While on paper this idea seems to make a very boring film it actually had a very interesting effect on screen. I have already said that this film is one big chase and the lack of music adds to the intensity of the chase. Coupled with the Coen Brother’s dark filming style, the lack of music allows the audience to focus on the intensity built into the filming, writing and acting. There are no outside influences to distract from the chase and the fight for survival.
This film was a masterpiece. Though it starts with an uncomplicated plot it becomes complicated as the cast of eclectic characters meet and interact. This film is a prime example of what great work the Coen Brother’s do. Every piece of the film is carefully calculated to help tell the story. Not only beating out Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood for Best Picture, No Country For Old Men also earned the Coen Brother’s an Oscar for Best Directing and Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay. Javier Bardem won a well deserved Best Supporting Actor. This gets an A rating from me, a unique and absolutely outstanding piece of cinema.
I’m going to be upfront and honest here, I am very excited for the Hunger Games. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a movie premiere. I think it’s because, in my opinion at least, this film has the potential to be better than the book it is based on. It has almost become an unflinching rule of mine that if a movie is based on a book, the book is generally better. This is not always because the movie is bad. If you have read the book before seeing the movie version, the book tends to be better. For my specific tastes, this rule has been absolute; I have never knowingly liked a film version of a book better than the book itself. Why do I think the Hunger Games is going to e the first film to break my rule? There are two reasons.
- I think that the Hunger Games storyline is brilliant and unique and I think the characters are well formed and very real. The problem with the novels is the writing itself. Grammar has taken a back seat as sentence fragments, run-on sentences and tense changes pepper each page. The book reads more like a fifteen year old girl’s diary than a published, polished novel. This may have been strategic, considering the novel’s main character and target audience, but overall it hurt the series.
- As I mentioned, the cast of characters Suzanne Collins created in the Hunger Games is an amazingly diverse and real group of characters. Casting stars to play such iconic (I think the book is popular enough to merit this phrase) characters can be risky business but the film makers have created such an interesting cast that they may have pulled off a difficult cinematic feat.
The cast of the Hunger Games: An overall complaint about most of the kids is that they seem a little too old but that is a common practice, especially when the film contains such dark subject matter.
- Katniss Everdeen: Jennifer Lawrence. I think this casting is perfect. Lawrence could be a perfect Katniss. She looks the part and has already proven on screen (X-Men First Class and Winter’s Bone) that she can play both aspects of Katniss’ character. She can play the love story part of Katniss but can also embody the fierceness that makes Katniss such a great character.
- Peeta Mellark: Josh Hutcherson. I think this was yet another great casting. Having literally grown-up on camera, Hutcherson can easily harness the charm and verbal dexterity that makes Peeta a crowd favorite (in the books as well as, for some crowds, in real life). Though he looks odd with blond hair, I think Hutcherson should be a solid Peeta.
- Gale Hawthorn: Liam Hemsworth. I don’t believe I have ever seen a film with Hemsworth init so I can’t judge this one. That being said, he looks like what I imagined Gale to look like and should do a fine job.
- Haymitch Abernathy: Woody Harrelson. I would have never even thought of Harrleson for this role but I think he is perfect for it. I can’t wait to see how Harrelson portrays the alcoholic, past Hunger Game winner. No matter how he does it, I predict a great performance from him. (and a full head of hair!)
- Effie Trinket: Elizabeth Banks The shots of Banks from the previews in her Effie costume look amazing. Every word she says and every move she makes in the few scenes you see her proves that she can be an awesome Effie. My first thought was to complain about this casting but after seeing her in action I have to say, Banks has the potential to be an amazing Effie.
- Cinna: Lenny Kravitz. Much like Banks, I strongly opposed this casting until I really thought about it. Lenny Kravitz is an insanely unique artist with fashion, style and personality to match. Cinna is an insanely unique character with fashion, style and personality to match. If Kravitz can act, specifically the ability to portray the strong bond that forms between Kantiss
and Cinna, he may actually be a perfect choice. That hings on quite a large “if” though.
- Ceasar Flickerman: Stanley Tucci. I am of the opinion that everything Stanley Tucci touches turns to gold. I think he is going to be a perfect Ceasar.
Overall, I am very happy with the cast that is, come March 23rd, bring the Hunger Games to life.