Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2010 (Landsdown, VA) with:

No Country for Old Men Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, And Josh Brolin

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: Movies

Yesterday, I went to see No Country for Old Men starring Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, And Josh Brolin. It was a good movie. A bit long and at times very slow as they seemed to drag the anticipation out so much so that it lost a bit of its edge. But overall, a satisfying film with a high degree of badassery. The movie had a very stylized look and feel as is typical of the Coen brothers (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen); think Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and a slew of other very unique films.


 
 
 

 
No Country For Old Men Movie Poster  
 
 
 

After the movie, me and my friend, Luke Kennedy, were discussing the "Why" of the film - what did it all mean. I have to say that this is the aspect of movie appreciation in which I fall quite short. When it comes to movies, I am generally set to receive. I am not all that good at finding the underlying meaning in the director's vision. Luke, on the other hand, as a film and communications major, can generally provide some good insight.

What Luke said was that the whole movie seemed to be summed up in a conversation that Tommy Lee Jones has with an old, wheelchair-bound ex-cop. Jones is talking about how he sees the world all crazy and how he always expected God would have entered his life and that he's not sure how he feels about moving on. The old cop looks at him and says something about the world is not waiting for his (Jones') approval and that to even think that is pure Vanity.


 
 
 

 
Javier Bardem As Anton Chigurh In No Country For Old Men  
 
 
 

This vanity - this belief that we could somehow design our fates or alter the course of change - was the theme that tied the whole movie together. More specifically, the movie felt like an allegory of the human condition in the context of death. Javier Bardem who plays what is referred to in-script as the ultimate badass seems to represent death and Josh Brolin represents the human desire to outrun death. On top of that, there is the whole concept of pure chance as Bardem's characters offers to give mercy to those who can correctly guess the outcome of a coin toss.

I'm not really explaining it as well as Luke did, but certainly, had I gone into the film with this perspective, I am sure that I would have found it more satisfying. I give it a tentative recommendation; if you really like the Coen brothers, I think you will enjoy it. But, expect it to be a bit slow and a little disturbing.



Reader Comments

@Jim,

Yeah, I know what you're saying. Certainly, the ruthlessness, non-emotional killing was very eery. I think Javier Bardem did a great job of this unflinching killing machine. When he breaks into the FBI office and has that calm conversation with the accountant and then the account asks if he's going to kill him and Bardem just turns around and says something like, "That depends... are you seeing me?"... it's all a bit chilling, the no-hope aspect of the situations.

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Well, what really shook me up was the killing that was done for no logical reason AT ALL to anyone thats, you know, sane. The twisted, psychotic thinking behind that one was the gut punch for me. I mean, whats the opposite of a code of ethics? A code of deeply disturbed sicko? And then the bleak ending was the "I need a drink" moment. Hell, I didn't even sleep well that night.
If you've seen the movie you know exactly what I'm talking about.

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@Jim,

I hear you. Its like that gas station seen... like, what the heck? Why are you even hassling that guy?!? He just asked where you came from. Its like watching the news and hearing about all these recent Mall shootings - how much time do I actually have left? What if I get shot leaving my building or something. Odds are in my favor, but there is NO rhyme or reason to so much of what happens.

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Well the mall guy and the church guy were just random effed-up spree killers; Chrygr or whatever his name was had reasons, they were just very sick, twisted psycho reasons that made it even more disturbing.
I'd kill someone for noticing my license plate too, thats just accepted common sense...LOL

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I thought it was really interesting the way the character Chigurh avoided blood. The way he checks his shoes, props his legs up to avoid the pool of blood approaching him, takes off his blood soaked socks to walk barefoot, and closes the shower curtain before shooting the drug dealer at close range. It thought it was all part of his psychotic, compulsive composition.

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"sugar" avoided the blood to avoid having any evidence on him. a real pro. the movie is disturbing. after Tommy Lee Jone's sheriff spoke of his dream, and his other comments, i felt like he was saying there was no hope.

perhaps this touches a dark vein in our society today? reflections of non-sensical terror attacks and mall shootings?

the move for some reason reminded me of american beauty.

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@J,

When Tommy Lee Jones was talking about his dream, I didn't so much get the feeling of hopelessness, but rather of inevitability. In his dream, he stops and his father passes him on a horse and he's says something like he gets the feeling that his father will be waiting for him up at the campfire when he eventually gets there.

When discussing this with my friend, I kind of felt that his father was like time or change and that no matter how long he (Jones) stops, time and change will both carry on without him and will both be there when he decides to catch up.

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this movie had no ending..it was awful...everyone in the place was like what the hell..when it just ended....wait for the dvd..trust me

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@Joey,

I'll agree that the ending is extremely abrupt and it threw people off. However, I still feel that the movie, overall, was enjoyable.

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"When he breaks into the FBI office"

My god, you reviewed the movie and you thought there was an FBI office in it? You don't need to review this movie. You don't need to review any movie that isn't animated and rated g. And if you're one of those retarded kids taught to use a computer, apologize.

And to your commentator who said it was interesting how he avoided blood. No, it wasn't. He's a hit man. He has to avoid blood to get out of situations.

Wow, if the internet has a special olympics section I think I've found it.

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I think that the assassin "Sugar" is a metaphor character for DEATH itself ie: the Grim Reaper . The morality/ value issue talked about was the inevitability plus the no good or bad aspect OF death. The reason we find this so disturbing is because, on some level, we know its inevitable for us as well.

just my 2 cents

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I just saw this movie and while I found it very beautiful...I didn't mind the slowness at all...I wondered later: What was the purpose of the whole thing? The glorification of violence and all that is bad in the world? That the bad guys will destroy any goodness?
But someone said (was it here?) that Javier Bardem's character was Death. It made more sense to me that way. Death will meet all of us, good characters and bad. Maybe we cheat death one day, but the coin toss will eventually go against us.
Whether you are greedy or whether you are good, it's going to happen. Bardem's character, I noticed, neither enjoyed or hated his job. He wasn't in it for the money. He didn't torture people. He simply killed them.
At the end, isn't that what Tommy Lee Jone's character is talking about: his father waiting for him in death?
My thoughts are all jumbled. I probably need to see it again.

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Definitely not a movie to be fully understood in one sitting.

Of the people that I've discussed this film with, those who didn't like it fear death, and fear inevitability.

I am excited to watch it again.

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I got out of No Country about 2 hours ago and it has definitely left its mark on me... I think it was beautifully crafted and portraited a kind of thoughtful patience you don't often find in movies of today. After reading many reviews and really grappling with some of the motives and more complex scenes, i have decided that maybe what you see is what you get. You can delve further into its inner workings but in doing so you take away from the shocking confusion surrounding death which this movie is really about. The scene which really strikes a nerve with me is towards the end when Anton drives almost normally through a Green light and gets side swiped. There is a sudden element of you get what you deserved but then the shock as he walks free. The whole film it is he who decides who dies or not and even in the end he seems to be in control of his own Fate.

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Joey Hill on Jan 4, 2008 at 11:00 PM I salute you. I have waded through New York Times, Rolling Stone and dozens of pseudo-sophisticates looking for you, my friend -- the one honest guy. Twenty-four hours later "What the hell?" perfectly describes my sentiments and that of my spouse. Well, we might like to add, "Give us our back our money and our two hours to what the hell." The ending didn't leave us with the feeling that we had witnessed a masterpiece. It left us with the feeling that the film broke in the middle of Act Two. Or the shoot ran out of money and they decided to manage that by tacking up credits and calling it a wrap. In any case, we saw a story with a beginning and a middle. No end. Joey, you're a very wise man.

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The ending is actually pretty simple. Remember the beginning when Bell talks about his father, and the good ol' days of the police. When they seemed to do the right thing only because it was the right thing, and he wonders what they would do now?

In the dream, his father passes him. The morality of the good old days has passed him, it is no longer within reach. He's long gone. Bell mentions catching up to him, he hopes some morality and sense can be eventually reached again...but his father is something of the past.

He wonders what the cops of the past would've done: and thats what this movie is. It's showing us what how inevitable change is, and that the future is uncertain. And yes, the world is not subject to our approval.

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It was definitely a bit slow at times but I think this just added to the West Texas feel that the Coen brothers were trying to get across. I've driven through West Texas and, let me tell ya, there aint nothin movin fast out there! It was nice seeing the Grim Reaper with a bob. It was a brilliant film and definitely worth a 2nd and 3rd viewing to pick up all the details that make the story so cohesive.

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I found something ironic when the kid at the end gave the shirt off his back and did not want the money, a sign of hope maybe. While the teens at the boarder when offered the 500 for the coat would not even at first throw the beer in as well. Just something I thought was ironic

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I was expecting a lot out of this movie because of the high rating it got out of IMDB. It seems that No country for old men also got a very high rating. Both of the movies were too long, I loved the action but they always moved the story too slowly. I love movies where there's lots of stress and the director doesn't let you take a breath. This movie just didn't do that. Too bad though, since it started out great with the psychotic killer murdering the police officer and then the guy who was driving the car with that air gun or whatever it's called.

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I think the movie is about how fucked up the world is today cause everything has to do with money... everybody wants more money etc etc... .except kids.... the 2 kids on the bike represent hope, but hope is destroyed when the kid gets the money in his hand and right away starts argueing with the other kid... its all about money thats how fucked up everything is today...the shit has hit the fun... a good movie!

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Upon reflection I think the book/movie deglamorizes violence and violent people. Whereas in the Hannibal movies you find yourself rooting for Hannibal Lecter, in this movie you find yourself going "will someone please kill this crazy psycho motherfucker??"
It also shows that good does not always triumph over evil, sometimes good says fuck it and retires....

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I completely viewed the movie in realization of the same perspective, that Chigurh represented death.

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I am big fan of Javier and he is a big star here in Spain. But Oscar for him for that movie would have been big joke. He did not act at all.

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What was the significance of Woody Harrelson's character and his relationship to Sugar?

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This movie was intense and beautiful. Here's my take on some of the themes:

1. Hunted/Hunters - Hunters getting hunted - josh brolin found the briefcase was a hunter (hunted dear - said 'hold still' before he shot it, just like the Javier Bardem did when he shot that guy with the air gun.

Basically, these guys: Brolin, T. Jones, and the Bardem character are all cut from the same cloth - hunters/hunted

2. Randomness/chance vs. fate - the coin is an allusion to chance - sometimes we win, sometimes we don't, there's a lot to luck in this life, and we misperceive luck as fate. Bardem gives the Brolin's wife a coin flip, the gas counter clerk, woody harleson; however, it was fate that brought them (22 years) to this point to take a chance on their life.

3. Change vs. Non-change - T. L. Jones as a cop is overwhelmed by what he has to battle, and thinks god is not hearing him or there. But the guy in the wheelchair tells him it's nothing new, that his uncle died battling 8 indians on horses that shot him in his doorway. Same trouble, different people; drug dealers/indians - there will always be people that kill, some for the sake of killing, nothing new, it's been going on a long time.

The film highlighted the sociopath killer that feels no remorse, but it also highlighted the inevitability of change in life with forces greater than ourselves (chance and fate).

I thought the film was beautifully made as well.

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I saw it a few month ago and i enjoy, i know i'm not the only one but i'm happy to see post like this : Thx for Sharing !

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You can't outrun death, death and evil exists, man will always struggle with his own purpose and meaning of life, man will always want a sign or something definitive to justify the existence of God, in the end, God (our father) will always go ahead to make a place for us. The light Tommy Lee Jones is speaking of the Christ - the light of the world - which God gave us. Just my humble opinion of what the dream meant.

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Honestly, because of the level of voilance in this kind of movie, I prefer to see it as just entertainment, and not search for any meaning in it at all. Because if you do, you accept such voilance as a part of life, and I think one should not.

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