Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Coenenberg Film

Last night finally got around to see No Country for Old Men -I say "finally" because this has been in theatres far too long (two weeks, at least) unseen by me, a dyed-in-the-wool maniac for film just like this. Plus I read the book and heard this was a good adaptation, maybe even better than Silence of the Lambs.

There is a visual nod to Silence. Did you catch it?

I also saw what I thought was an homage to Warhol, to his Elvis print specifically, the one where the King is duded up in cowboy gear and brandishing a pistol. It's the shot in the film where Ed Tom Bell is looking into the hotel room where (no spoiler) was killed, headlights behind him casting a double shadow on the blood-splattered wall.

Lots of blood gets splattered in this film.

I don't think it's a better adaptation than Silence -a film that captures the source novel to perfection- mostly due to choices by the Coen Brothers. They want so very much to be making a David Cronenberg film that it creates a weird style melange onscreen; the cold clinical Cronenberg imported for scenes of brutal body horror. These scenes are not native to the Coens, and they put them to excellent use.

Nevertheless I had this nagging feeling that I'd seen this film before. It wasn't until morning that I realized what had been bugging me, that in many ways No Country is not only an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel but it also seeks to transmute Cronenberg's A History of Violence.

Laudable, to be sure, but distracting.

My highest praise for the film is the very effective "capture" of being in a McCarthy story, of being in his universe, as it were. Environment is paramount to everything in his work. The apocalyptic imagery (burning cars, corpse-strewn roads) and great sweeping cosmic emptiness found there is translated brilliantly by the Coens, to such effect that you feel the author's entire philosophy of art and existence coming across.

Chigurh choking on candy is a very nice and totally genuine Coens' touch.

And Stephen Root! A man born for the Coens, and one of my favorite actors working today.

And I love the dog chasing Llewelyn down the river, a scene which I alone in the crowded auditorium found worthy of an outloud laugh. So it was.

1 comment:

Katy Shaw said...

I can't wait to see No Country for Old Men. We've been meaning to see it for weeks but haven't gotten to it yet...