December 3rd, 2007

Great Brown South

I saw No Country For Old Men last night. It's outstanding in every respect, worthy of all the accolades that it has received. But I was perplexed, in seeing it, by all the commentary I'd read that distinguishes it sharply from other films by the Coen Brothers. While it's certainly a major improvement on their recent efforts, I see it as a continuation, not a rejection, of their best work. The existential themes reminded me of Barton Fink and The Big Lebowski, the mise-en-scene of Raising Arizona, and the plot and pacing of Fargo. The latter is particularly close to No Country For Old Men in spirit. Both fall into the hybrid genre of Western noir that encompasses Jim Thompson, Touch of Evil, and the border-crossing fiction of Paco Ignacio Taibo, about which my friend tommix has done some excellent writing. While the West Texas landscapes of No Country For Old Men are more obviously in the tradition of the film Western, the vast bleakness of Fargo's frozen Minnesota and North Dakota steppes achieve the same general effect as shots of a caravan through Monument Valley, namely the reduction of humanity to an insignificant speck on the horizon of existence. Both films overwhelm us with our own smallness, while reminding us that, as Javier Bardem's hit man says in No Country For Old Men, that it still means "everything" to us.

Invisible Hand

pissang beat me to making a final comment, as I imagined he would, but, as my grandfather was fond of saying, "Unglaublich!" I wonder if the fix will be on for the Dolphins game if New England is still undefeated. . .