Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

November 19, 2007

No Country for Old Men

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 7:41 pm

UPDATE: My latest thoughts on the movie, including a response to comments made here.

“No Country for Old Men,” the Coen brother’s latest film, has received 89 favorable reviews out of 90 on rottentomatoes.com where my review will now join the other distaff take.

Joel and Ethan Coen: masters of anti-climax

Many critics describe it as a return to the halcyon days of “Fargo” and they are partially correct. Like “Fargo,” “No Country for Old Men” exploits local color–in this case the laconic twang of West Texas. Unlike “Fargo”–unfortunately–the movie is structurally flawed with an ending that makes the final episode of “The Sopranos” look like a textbook example of dramatic conclusion.

Defying the normal audience’s appetite for a meaningful resolution, “No Country for Old Men” ends with a whimper rather than a bang. To a certain extent, this is necessitated by the plot of the Cormac McCarthy novel, about whose work I will have more to say. I am going to reveal the conclusion of the movie momentarily so those that plan to spend ten dollars or more to be ultimately disappointed should read no further.

Cormac McCarthy: poet laureate of redneck dystopia

There are three major characters in “No Country.” In the opening scene we are introduced to Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin in an impressive performance), a Vietnam veteran who is hunting antelope in the arid backcountry where much of the action takes place. He happens upon the aftermath of a drug deal gone bust, with dead or dying Mexicans lying on the ground next to their all-terrain pickup trucks equipped with high-power spotlights. After Moss notices a briefcase containing two million dollars, he absconds with it in a gesture highly reminiscent of the characters in the 1998 “A Simple Plan,” a much more successful essay on the moral and physical hazards of appropriating ill-gotten gains.

Anton Chigurh, a capable but uninteresting killer

Hired to track down the cash is one Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a hit-man who lugs around a pneumatic stun-gun with a captive bolt that is ordinarily used for killing cattle. Chiguhr uses his to knock out the locks on doors behind which reside his intended victims or to knock out their brains slaughterhouse-style. Of indeterminate nationality, Chigurh is occasionally inspired to play with his intended victims, allowing them to toss a coin to decide their fate. His character is a mixture of a less interesting version of the Samuel Jackson hit-man in “Pulp Fiction” and the very first Terminator–the unrelenting evil one. Entirely missing is the kind of bent humor found in the kidnappers in “Fargo,” who despite being creeps were a source of amusement.

The third major character is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, played by Tommie Lee Jones. Naming the character Ed Tom is a demonstration of Cormac McCarthy’s resolve to make his characters authentically “good old boy.” He is the counterpart of the female cop lead character in “Fargo.” Unlike her, Sheriff Bell never really gets involved in apprehending Chigurh or any other bad guys. His main purpose is to serve as an outlet for McCarthy’s cracker-barrel philosophy–a mixture of Reagan-era conservatism and nihilism. At one point, Bell tells a colleague that everything started going downhill when young people began to dye their hair green and put spikes through their noses.

The movie actually moves along quite nicely until the final fifteen minutes or so. It consists almost entirely of Chigurh trying to track down and kill Llewelyn Moss in a manner that evokes all of the Terminator flicks. This pursuer is made out of flesh-and-blood, however. After Moss blasts him with a shotgun, Chigurh retreats to a seedy motel (“No Country” is replete with some of the scuzziest motels and hotels ever seen in a film) and performs surgery to remove the shotgun pellets from his knee. With the Terminator flicks floating in the back of my mind, I almost expected to see metal rods instead of bones beneath his flesh.

Up to this point, you are expecting a grand finale with the three major characters shooting it out. You hope for Llewelyn Moss to come out on top, since his character is especially engaging and resourceful. For example, he is adept at hiding the loot in the ventilation system of one run-down motel. I kept expecting something like the conclusion to the wonderful 1972 Sam Peckinpah movie “The Getaway” based on a Jim Thompson novel. Like “No Country,” “The Getaway” involves likable people (Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw) trying to elude hit-men hired to retrieve ill-gotten gains. It also includes some truly low-class motels and hotels.

However, McCarthy–in keeping with his nihilistic view of the universe–has Moss killed off before such a climax can even take place. Perhaps in an attempt to one-up McCarthy on anti-climaticism, the Coen brothers have him killed off-screen. Once he is gone, you really lose interest in the film entirely. Or at least I did, based on my take on the film compared to other critics on rottentomatoes.com. I can say that my wife had the same exact reaction. When we spotted Moss’s dead body, we turned to each other with a look of consternation as if to say, “What the fuck was that about?” When we returned home after the movie, I told her that our common reaction to the film reflected the strength of our marriage. If she had told me that this was the greatest movie she had seen all year, I probably would have filed for divorce.

In pouring through the mainstream media trying to find a review that jibed with my own, I could only turn up one. Writing in the Washington Post on November 9th, Stephen Hunter opined:

Derived from the hyper-violent Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, it’s a high-end “literary” thriller that traffics as much in ideas as in thrills, sometimes to its own detriment. It follows as a Vietnam vet (the time is the ’80s) antelope hunting comes across a Texas drug deal gone bad. Bodies, guns, blood, flies and folly are everywhere on the arid plains. He finds a huge chunk of money and makes off with it; alas, having promised a dying man a drink of water, he heads back, scotching his successful getaway. He is observed by other drug smugglers, and the chase begins.

You can’t say it cuts to the chase. There was never anything to cut from to the chase. It’s all chase, which means that it offers almost zero in character development. Each figure is given, a la standard thriller operating procedure, a single moral or psychological attribute and then acts in accordance to that principle and nothing else, without doubts, contradictions or ambivalence. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin; see story on Page 33), the laconic vet who finds the stash, is pure Stubbornness. His main pursuer, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem in Robert Wagner’s haircut from “Prince Valiant”), is Death, without a pale horse. Subsidiary chaser Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) is Pride, or possibly Folly. Tommy Lee Jones appears in the role of Melancholy Wisdom; he’s a lawman also trying to find Llewelyn but not very hard. He’d much rather address the camera and soliloquize on the sorry state of affairs of mankind, though if he says anything memorable, I missed it.

Despite his reputation as being some kind of latter-day Faulker, I have a sneaking suspicion that McCarthy is an elevated version of Jim Thompson, or some other pulp fiction writer. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem capable of writing a satisfying conclusion to a novel as the best mass market writers know how to do. One suspects that this is simply a function of a worldview that amounts to a redneck dystopia.

If I had more time on my hands, I might take a look at McCarthy’s novels to try to extract out the rotten core and examine it under a strong light, especially the 1985 “Blood Meridian” that is described on the official website of the Cormac McCarthy Society as a dismantling of “the politically correct myth of aboriginal victimization, so that victims and their antagonists become indistinguishable.” The write-up continues:

In one celebrated scene, a column of mercenaries the kid has joined encounters a Comanche war party herding stolen horses and cattle across the desert. The kid barely escapes as the Indians, still vividly dressed like eldritch clowns in the garments they have stripped from their last white victims, annihilate his companions.

Just what the world was waiting for, a Faulkneresque novel that depicts American Indians as wanton killers.

ADDENDUM:

Nation Magazine, September 12, 2005
It’s a Man’s, Man’s World
by William Deresiewicz

You’d be forgiven for thinking of Cormac McCarthy’s slim, disillusioned new novel, with its suggestively self-referential title, as the 72-year-old writer’s farewell to fiction. You’d also be forgiven for hoping it was. It’s not that No Country for Old Men–taut, savage, headlong–isn’t first-rate by ordinary standards, but by the standards of McCarthy’s previous work, which has established him as one of America’s greatest living writers, it is superficial and perfunctory. The moral intensity remains; the imaginative complexity is gone. No Country for Old Men, whose streamlined, cinematic plot is compressed into some 300 short pages, is McCarthy’s first novel in the seven years since he closed the Border Trilogy with Cities of the Plain. Though he is said to have three or four other works in various states of composition, he seems to have run out of patience with the majestic, processional prose and slow sifting of existential questions that gave his earlier work its weight. McCarthy has long attracted comparison with Faulkner, Hemingway and Melville, but in the shape his career has assumed of late he reminds me most of Evelyn Waugh, another unrelenting Catholic moralist who, as he aged, declined first into sentimentality, then into certainty…

As the novel nears its end, however, Bell’s very doubts about the value of his life’s work become the excuse for an affirmation of timeworn verities: the endurance of truth, the existence of God, the nihilism of unbelief, the goodness of the old ways. The sheriff is clearly McCarthy’s mouthpiece here, and so we find the erstwhile apostle of ignorance giving us chapter and verse about what to believe and how. Waugh finally came to this kind of tub-thumping certainty, too. And the trilogy’s historical problem also resurfaces. What Bell is confronting, we’re told again and again, is a new kind of evil. Apparently the Old West, like the rest of human history, was just one big family. Like Waugh, again, McCarthy has forgotten that his critique of modernity is only a subset of his critique of humanity. And the problem with the present, apparently, isn’t just drugs, it’s also abortion, kids with green hair and the loss of good manners. McCarthy the conservative has conscripted McCarthy the artist for service in the culture wars, and the result turns out about as happily as such arrangements usually do.

Indeed, in ways that aren’t true of his previous works, no matter how bloody, No Country for Old Men seems designed as a calculated assault on the reader. In the two interviews McCarthy has given, he has defended the violence of his works by speaking of death as the ultimate reality, the avoidance of death as a failing in both people and novels. But in his previous works, death is only part of the point, an aspect of the violent worlds he portrays. Here, it often seems the only point, the story a single-minded effort to pile up the body count. It is Chigurh’s practice, before he kills someone, to force them to look him, to look death, in the face, and that’s just what McCarthy does to us, rubbing our tender little modern liberal noses in death’s horror by making us watch it in slow motion: “Chigurh shot him in the face. Everything that Wells had ever known or thought or loved drained slowly down the wall behind him.” But this, and passages like it, are a sign of weakness, not strength: McCarthy needs to be this explicit and this manipulative because he has failed to make us care about his characters. There’s also something sophomoric and ultimately sad in the morbid fascination he displays at moments like this. Given his age, maybe he isn’t rubbing our noses in death so much as ramming his own head against it. Fiction may or may not be any country for old men, but the present never is.

Full review at: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20050912/deresiewicz

ADDENDUM 2:

Shouts & Murmurs

No, But We Saw the Movie

by Nora Ephron November 26, 2007

When they got home that night, she went to get the book. She’d ordered it earlier in the week and meant to read it before they went to the movie, but it was a hard week and things got away from her. This was happening more and more.

Maybe if we look in the book we’ll be able to figure it out, she said.

Maybe we’ll find out what happened at the motel, he said. Why did it skip forward like that?

He said it’s the same in the book.

Who said?

I told you who. The guy I was standing with while I was waiting for you to come out of the men’s room. He read the book and he said it’s the same deal exactly. The sheriff pulls up and everybody’s dead. You never see the scene where they all get shot. Maybe it’s because Javier didnt kill them.

Who’s Javier?

Javier Bardem. The serial killer.

I thought it was Benicio Del Toro.

Well it wasnt. The guy outside the men’s room said there’s a scene in the book that’s not in the movie. He said Javier goes to see a total stranger in some office, who’s never been mentioned earlier. He gives him the satchel of money and he says, Here’s your money back, now maybe you’ll hire me to do things like this in the future.

Why did they leave that out?

How do I know? Write a letter to the Coen brothers.

She opened the book and started reading from the end.

He does this weird thing with contractions, she said. He uses apostrophes for words like that’s and it’s but he doesnt use them for dont and wasnt and wont. He doesnt use quotation marks, either.

Who?

Cormac McCarthy.

full article

ADDENDUM #3:

No Country for Old Men


Mr. Cranky’s rating:
2 Bombs

Critics can wax poetic about the maturity of the Coen brothers and the brilliance of their cinematographer Roger Deakins and the wonderful prose of novelist Cormac McCarthy, but I find it highly ironic that with all that genius brought together, I still didn’t get what the hell happened at the end of this film and I don’t think anyone else will either.

It’s one of those films that ends with a speech and I was only half paying attention because, quite frankly, when an actor starts blabbering on in that obvious metaphorical or symbolic tone, my eyes just glaze over and my auditory system kind of shuts down. After all, film is a visual medium. I’m waiting to see something. Two hours have gone by and some dipshit Sheriff with an accent I can barely understand starts going on and on, it’s not like I’m going to be locked in. It’s so hard to take people from Texas seriously in the first place. Then, all of a sudden, the screen goes black, I don’t remember what was being said, and I’m like “what the fuck?”

That was my exact reaction at the end of this film: “what the fuck?” The speech is given by Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) and it has something to do with a couple of dreams he had, one having to do with his father, I think. So, if you’re still awake toward the end of the film and the Sheriff starts jabbering about his dreams, you might want to pay attention. Basically, unless you catch what’s being said here and understand it, you’ve just wasted a couple of hours.

I suppose telling you the Sheriff is talking at the end gives away the fact that he’s still alive as the film is about a drug deal gone wrong, the average joe who finds the money, and the killer hired to track him down. Until the end, I kind of thought the Sheriff was just a tangential character. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) seemed like the protagonist. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), the stone-cold killer, is the antagonist. Actually, the Sheriff is probably a tangential character. In a way, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, who has a direct role in the story, is more of an outside observer. He’s the narrator of the story.

If I figured anything out about the movie at all, it’s that it’s about the difference between the capabilities of pure evil and the capabilities of men who aren’t pure evil but who think of themselves as tough and capable. So, you have this guy, Llewelyn Moss, who thinks he can handle himself, but really, he has no idea what evil truly exists in the world and what lengths it will go to. You know how in most movies a hero will muster up some amount of courage and deal with an evil character? That doesn’t happen in this film. As far as the Coens are concerned, there are a certain number of levels of human deviousness that rank something like: capable, determined, under-handed, dirty rat, white-collar evil genius, blue-collar evil genius, and pure evil. Even a blue-collar evil genius cannot contend with pure evil. Anton Chigurh is pure evil. Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) is a blue-collar evil genius. A blue-collar evil genius is somebody who pretends to be evil and is considered evil by most other people for that reason alone, but he still probably has a family and a mother that he loves. When push comes to shove, pure evil kicks his ass every time.

Thus, this movie is nothing more than what happens when a guy gets in over his head. And if you ask me, Llewlyn Moss was hardly the only one in over his head.

ADDENDUM #4

From Jonathan Rosenbaum’s review in the Chicago Reader:

But just because the Coens are hip enough to know the contemporary audience they’re addressing doesn’t mean they have anything to say we don’t already know, about Abu Ghraib or anything else. What I suspect they’re really offering us is a convenient cop-out: we can allow dog collars to be used even while we hypocritically shake our heads at the sadness of it all.

 

160 Comments »

  1. I feel like the only person in the world who thought that the ending was not only brilliant, but climactic. The scene with Chigurh and Carla Jean was brilliantly suspenseful.

    Also, I thought that Chigurh was not only interesting, but engaging on a human level, again, like in the scene with Carla Jean.

    I’m tempted to say that not all of us want the typical Hollywood ending, but seeing a lot of the stuff people have said about it makes me stop myself. So the bad guy doesn’t die. So it doesn’t end with a Hollywood-esque gunbattle. Shouldn’t we embrace things that are different? It always frustrates me when people only want to sit and drool at the same Hollywood dross where the good guy wins and evil is vanquished from the world, and there’s a big motherfucking ice cream social at the end.

    Comment by Dot — November 19, 2007 @ 11:05 pm

  2. [Louis, WorldPress wouldn't save my response to your review...I got an error message. So, can you post this for me in your comments section?--David]

    ———–

    Something to note, Tommy Lee Jones, one of the main supporting actors in all this, is right at home in this movie, reared, as he was, and living, as he chooses, in west Texas. His accent is spot on, since it’s natural. Jones always makes a wondefully craggy impression on any movie he’s in.

    I thought the movie ‘center’…the chase between Anton and Moss was actually quite good. Yes, if like you, one is forced to compare the Anton character with…Terminator or something else, then you’ll never get “into” the movie. I thought he was very engaging, relentless, of which the Terminator might be of one kind of such a killer, but Javier Bardem certainly adds amazing dept to make the comparison with James Cameron’s rather obviously…mechanically written…performance by Arnold S. No, this ‘terminator’ was far more scarier given his ability, as you point out, to ‘play with his victims’. I enjoyed it, except for the ending.

    David Walters

    Comment by louisproyect — November 19, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  3. It is one thing not to have a conventional happy ending and it is another not to have an ending at all. In this flick, we don’t know what happened to the money, who killed Lewellen, whether his wife was killed or not, etc. I was amazed to see so many high-placed critics just ignoring these questions. I have a feeling that the Coen brothers have the same kind of mesmerizing effect on them that Woody Allen once did. They did make 2 good movies–“Blood Simple” and “Fargo”–it’s been downhill ever since. I do admit that the first hour or so of “No Country” led me to believe that this would join them, but found to my disappointment that it would not.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 19, 2007 @ 11:37 pm

  4. Speaking of chase movies, I recalled “Westworld” where Yul Bryner played a lethal robot in a cowboy suit who suddenly starts to attack the visitors of the amusement park. I watched the movie many years ago and I have no idea about its artistic value now. But, the blood-freezing appearance of Bryner has remained from childhood intelect to these days. After reading this review, I have been inspired to watch it again.

    Comment by Mehmet Cagatay — November 20, 2007 @ 12:56 am

  5. I think you are correct, when you leave a movie, you need a feeling of an end, excluding a several sequels story.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 20, 2007 @ 2:27 am

  6. Not a comment on the movie, which I haven’t seen, but on McCarthy who you dismissed as ‘the poet laureate of redneck dystopia’. I think that is a shallow approach to McCarthy’s work. I would hope that Marxists would give it a more serious reading. I say this not to deny that there are problematic aspects to his writing… McCarthy has written some of the most powerful and disturbing fiction of the late 20th century. McCarthy finds in the modern history of western North America a long history of violence which he first approaches in Blood Meridian but continues in his later western novels. Blood Meridian was extensively researched and centered on actual historical events. The essay you quote on the McCarthy Society website is one take on his novel, almost certainly not McCarthy’s. He has a notorious dislike for academics and doesn’t indulge in commentary on his novels. In regards to ‘No Country for Old Men’ I would take Ed Tom as unreliable and not speaking for McCarthy. Bell’s conservative amnesia regarding the history of violence along the US/Mexico border is not McCarthy’s. In fact Blood Meridian is perhaps the most serious literary work that addresses that violence. The Border Trilogy is hardly ignorant of this history either. His novels portray vulnerable people thrown in to usually brutal and inhuman situations and he watches them struggle to remain human in the midst of those circumstances. The result usually does not lead to neat conclusions but it is what makes his novels great.

    Comment by dave — November 20, 2007 @ 4:42 am

  7. Wow. First of all, I am surprised that someone who has a website devoted to film reviews, and therefore is presumably a film buff, would be put off by a movie without a conventional ending. Why does knowing what happened to the money, or to Anton, or Bell, or the drugs matter? The main characters were Moss, Bell, and Chigurh–once their interweaved stories are finished, the movie is finished. Simple as that. There was nothing else to say once Moss is killed and Chirgurh gets away. Furhtermore, what about the mastery of the film making? The editing was absolutely perfect. The color was perfect. The sound was extraordinary. I’ve never seen a movie with better sound editing in my life. I understand being disappointed with the outcome of a story, but that is how it goes with fiction–you aren’t writing it yourself. I felt that the ending was compatible with the mood of the piece. There was too much unrelenting suspense to end with a traditional shootout.

    Comment by justin — November 20, 2007 @ 6:54 am

  8. “Wow. First of all, I am surprised that someone who has a website devoted to film reviews, and therefore is presumably a film buff, would be put off by a movie without a conventional ending.”

    Actually, the website is devoted to Marxism as the title “Unrepentant Marxist” would imply. As far as a movie not having a successful climax is concerned, I may be a bit old-fashioned but I like movies and sexual intercourse to have climaxes.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 20, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

  9. Hey Loius. I recently posted a response of the same film on my blog and was recommended here by Renegade Eye.

    I wholly disagree, though, with your take on No Country for Old Men. Certainly a dark atmosphere ridden with nihilism was present throughout the film, but Jones’ final monologue about the two dreams with his father offer hope in the midst of an otherwise depressing premise. Such is the way with many of McCarthy’s story’s (the ending to The Road comes to mind).

    My take on the final fifteen minutes was equally different. The anti-climax was a means of engaging, rather than disengaging the audience. Never in the film are we told that Moss has even been killed. It is strongly implied and later his wife living alone confirms this but the cut at the hotel scene which opens up with Jones’ character getting to the hotel “too late” is meant to draw out a “What the fuck?” type reaction. We are not sure if it was Chigurh, the band of Mexicans, or someone else entirely who killed Moss, nor are we sure entirely how the scene played out. Moreover, we never find out who has the money, if anyone at all.

    The ending was necessary to complete the film’s theme, which was, for lack of a better phrase, “It’s not the like ol’ days.” After Moss is killed, it becomes evident that Jones’ character is the one who will come out of this situation with the most influence on his life and his monologues and conversations, especially the one at the diner with the other officer, are necessary to close the film. However, rather than giving us a pretentious epilogue after Moss is killed, we spend the time trying to piece together the events leading up to and surrounding Moss’ death, which thus keeps us engaged in the story. The anti-climax is better described as a thematic refocusing, a thematic twist if you will; the whole time we are focused on Moss as the main character and his sudden death makes what should have been apparent the whole time obvious.

    I thought No Country for Old Men was a triumph, perhaps the best mainstream release of 2007. You make some good points, but as I already stated, I disagree with the overall analysis. The terminator analogy with Chigurh is very apt. I’d love to know what you thought of my response.

    Comment by Dave — November 21, 2007 @ 12:05 am

  10. Look, Dave, the problem is that the Coen’s were a victim of their own success. I think that the Lewellen Moss character was by far the best thing about the flick, especially given Josh Brolin’s stellar performance. When he is dispatched from the movie, it deflates like a punctured balloon. The Sheriff Bell character simply lacked the gravitas to sustain my interest. I will have fond memories of “Getaway” and “A Simple Plan” long after I forget about “No Country”–not to speak of the brilliant “Blood Simple” and “Fargo”.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 21, 2007 @ 12:11 am

  11. We can agree to disagree. I thought all three of the characters were interesting enough to hold my interest throughout. Even if Moss was the crux of the triangle, that ought to make his anti-climactic death all the more shocking and unsettling.

    Comment by Dave — November 21, 2007 @ 4:15 am

  12. The Mexican drug dealers killed Moss, they found him when they were following Carla Jean and one of them asked her mother where they were going. The Mexicans get the money. It is implied that Chigurh kills Carla Jean because he can’t comprehend the choice she makes by refusing to call the coin. She refuses to leave something up to chance that should be decided with human compassion, and Chigurh is oblivious to the implications of chance, thus he is nearly killed by random chance.

    You can see the same type of storytelling in Fargo. Why did Jerry need the money? That’s never explained. What happens to the $1 million lying in the middle of a field? It doesn’t matter. They’re MacGuffins. What happens to them is of little concern to us, we’re interested in the characters. I don’t honestly care what the Mexicans did with the money, they probably put it in their mattresses and then bought a car or something.

    Comment by dotttttt — November 21, 2007 @ 10:36 am

  13. I know that Mexican drug dealers killed Moss. You could see them speeding off in a pickup truck. But the issue is not who killed him, but his loss to the plot when this happens. By comparison, imagine if Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw had been killed off-screen fifteen minutes before the end of “Getaway” and the rest of the film had consisted of ruminations by a secondary character about how bad the world had become. That’s what you get in “No Country for Old Men”.

    Comment by louisproyect — November 21, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  14. I’ve only read the Border Trilogy, and while I was fascinated with the Faulkneresque prose style (in no way a faux achievement), and gripped, especially in the first novel, by the dark odyssey of anti-heroic characters in an alienated landscape, the ending left me flat. The second two novels were paler, more formeless versions of the first, so I have to agree with your comment on McCarthy: “poet-laureate of a redneck dystopia.”

    Comment by plato's cave — November 21, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  15. More interesting than reading the dozens of glowing reviews that “No Country” has received is reading the few voices of dissent. This one is typical. He really has nothing of note to say ABOUT THE MOVIE…he just says that he didn’t much care for it (oh, and his WIFE agrees with him!), and then off-handedly remarks that, if he had “more time on his hands” (he’s obviously VERY busy watching movies with more palatable morality and neat bow-tie endings), he’d actually READ some of Cormac McCarthy’s novels to understand the context in which this film exists.

    This is the kind of diligent film criticism that you really go out of your way to read, isn’t it?

    Comment by Rich — November 21, 2007 @ 5:22 pm

  16. If you were able to read the book, you would know that it is not the Coens one-upping anything — McCarthy kills Moss “off-screen” too. Calling McCarthy a glorified pulp writer is the inverse of calling your review analysis. If you are too cool, to been-there-done-that to see what is happening in this story, and since the counter-formulaic plot upsets you so much, feel free to stick to the obscure hippie bleating you normally praise. Such sniveling is more appropriate to a moral illiterate possessing a 2-word emotional vocabulary, and who would divorce his wife over film preferences (a communist virtue of ideology, such courage?). We who have need to read do not want from you your means toward ignorance.

    Comment by ColdWarWinner — November 21, 2007 @ 5:30 pm

  17. That’s a little harsh..

    Comment by Dave — November 21, 2007 @ 7:59 pm

  18. You admit you haven’t read McCarthy’s books and yet you pontificate about him based on a website and a movie. By the way, the Wash. Post critic whom you say agrees with you wrote of Michael Moore’s “Sicko” on June 29: “a fuzzy, toothless collection of anecdotes, a few stunts and a bromide rich conclusion.”

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 21, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  19. “You admit you haven’t read McCarthy’s books and yet you pontificate about him based on a website and a movie.”

    I am not sure whether reading “No Country for Old Men” would make much of a difference, especially in light of the following, which makes the novel sound like the portentous cracker-barrel philosophizing I alluded to. I myself think that things started going wrong in the US back in the 1600s or so when they started exterminating the Indians and importing slaves–not when young people stopped saying “sir” and “ma’am”:

    The New York Times
    On the Loose in Badlands: Killer With a Cattle Gun
    BYLINE: By MICHIKO KAKUTANI

    No Country for Old Men
    By Cormac McCarthy
    309 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $24.95

    Cormac McCarthy’s latest novel, ”No Country for Old Men,” gets off to a riveting start as a sort of new wave, hard-boiled Western: imagine Quentin Tarantino doing a self-conscious riff on Sam Peckinpah and filming a fast, violent story about a stone-cold killer, a small-town sheriff and an average Joe who stumbles across a leather case filled with more than $2 million in hot drug money.

    Intercut with this gripping tale, however, are the sheriff’s portentous meditations on life and fate and the decline and fall of Western civilization. These lugubrious passages, reminiscent of the most pretentious sections of earlier McCarthy novels like ”The Crossing,” gain ascendancy as the book progresses and gradually weigh down the quicksilver suspense of the larger story.

    Sheriff Bell, we learn, is haunted by a ”Lord Jim”-like episode from his past. Although he won a bronze star during World War II, he was guilty of an act of cowardice that contributed to the deaths of many men in his unit. Ever since then, he has been trying to make amends, looking upon his job as sheriff as a second chance to prove himself.

    Mr. McCarthy has always vascillated between clean, Hemingwayesque prose and pseudo-Faulknerian grandiloquence, and in this novel, he makes poor Bell the mouthpiece of his most ponderous, sentimental and high-falutin’ musings. Bell blathers on about how the country is changing for the worse, how there has been a decline in good manners and a rise in horrendous crimes, how people nowadays ”dont have no respect for the law” — — ”dont even think about the law.” ”Any time you quit hearin Sir and Mam,” he observes, ”the end is pretty much in sight.”

    Comment by louisproyect — November 21, 2007 @ 11:08 pm

  20. First, don’t blame the directors for the abrupt ending. That’s pretty much how the book ends. With regard to some of the unanswered questions, it’s apparent you didn’t pay attention to the details. Chigurh killed Lewellen. Remember the Sheriff going back to the motel where Lewellen was found and seeing where the lock was blown out and then seeing the open vent with the dime that Chigurh used at the other motel? Who do you think killed Lewellen and got the money?

    As far as the wife goes, you missed something there as well. Throughout the movie, there were several times where Chigurh paid attention to getting traces on his feet. Remember him taking off his socks and leaving them there? The blood moving on the floor and him putting his feet on the bed to avoid it? When he walked out of the house after being with Lewellen’s wife, he stopped on the porch to check both of his boots. What do you think he was looking for and why?

    As far as your comments on the “Cracker Barrel” philosophies of the book or the movie, well, that just shows that you and so many others just don’t get what’s happening around us. Too bad…

    Comment by Garrett Lucas — November 22, 2007 @ 2:10 am

  21. I am a progressive guy, but bringing up the Indians or the salves to try to justify your assanine view on this movie is amazing. I think you can go rent Tansformers it just came out.

    Comment by Matt — November 22, 2007 @ 4:53 am

  22. The ending was like when a piece of music omits the resolving tone and the listener is left with a feeling of SUSPENSE. That’s the effing point. Get on the bus!

    Comment by TMW — November 22, 2007 @ 5:23 am

  23. I thought it was obvious that
    a) The Mexicans killed Moss (you see them driving off!)
    b) Chigurh killed Carla Jean (he checks his shoes for blood as he leaves her house.)
    c) Chigurh found the money (the open air duct vent in the motel, along with the same coin he used on the vent in the previous motel room.) He wasn’t after Carla Jean for the money — he was there to keep his promise.

    Comment by Dignan — November 22, 2007 @ 5:35 am

  24. Garrett you need to go back to the movie. The Mexicans killed Moss. Chigurh came in after the fact…

    Comment by Dan — November 22, 2007 @ 6:32 am

  25. Reading means books. Your reading appears limited to reviews that agree with your preconceptions. The discussion of an author doesn’t move forward by quoting what-so-and-so said about him in a newspaper or by quips about the seventeenth century.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 22, 2007 @ 1:05 pm

  26. Well, I’m truly sorry that you couldn’t enjoy this film. Perhaps you can go see a good formula comedy next time and it won’t upset you by doing something different.

    Comment by dottttttt — November 22, 2007 @ 3:50 pm

  27. Dignan and Dan: Actually, I’m pretty sure that Chigurh killed Moss. The officer who speaks to the Sheriff in his car towards the end says that Chigurh came back to a motel he had been to just a day before (shooting a desk clerk) and shot “a retired army colonel.” Doesn’t that mean Chigurh killed Moss, or am I missing something?

    Comment by Sean — November 22, 2007 @ 7:31 pm

  28. The retired army colonel was Carson Welles, Woody Harrelson’s character. If you remember, Chigurh kills the desk clerk, then there’s the chase through the street, then Welles visits Moss in Mexico in the morning, and when Welles goes back to his hotel room, Chigurh kills him.

    Comment by dottttttt — November 22, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

  29. Also, Welles mentions in the hospital that he was in ‘Nam, and Moss cuts him off, presumably before he can mention he’s a retired colonel.

    Comment by dottttttt — November 22, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

  30. I saw the movie last night. I literally heard the audience gasp, that the movie ended.

    Comment by Renegade Eye — November 23, 2007 @ 3:23 am

  31. Although I am certainly no proprietor of conservative values, it seems to me a stretch to say that the movie advocates them.

    Couldn’t the idea of age (old men) be a metaphor for moral wisdom (which, incidentally, you tend to gain as you age)? This makes sense to me, especially when applied to the final monologue about dark and light. I really think this film makes a larger statement than simply that youngins are running wild. There’s even a degree of class consciousness to it that a Marxist might appreciate.

    .. I was also bothered by the divorcing the wife comment, as another respondent mentioned. That tone undermined the argument, for me, more than it supported it.

    Comment by jness — November 23, 2007 @ 5:46 am

  32. This movie takes some time to digest. I just got done seeing it about an hour ago. When it ended, I heard one guy say “Hell, no” and another say “Are you kidding me?”

    But the more I think about it, the more I like it. While it’s tempting to compare it to the non-ending of “The Sopranos,” that is really not fair.

    The Mexicans killed Moss, but had to leave before they could get the money. Chigurh went back and got the money from the vent using the same coin that he used previously. He went to kill Moss’ wife to keep his promise.

    The one thing that bothered me was the car accident, but I think dottttt is right on with Chigurh’s preoccupation with chance.

    I’m from the West, so maybe that is why I understood exactly what the Sheriff was talking about, but I loved it.

    Add to that a great technical movie with vintage Coen brothers dialogue, and it’s a very good movie, bordering on greatness.

    Comment by Yossarian — November 23, 2007 @ 6:44 am

  33. First of all those interpreting McCarthy as saying that civilization is going to hell in a handbasket, ‘Decline of the West, bullshit aren’t reading him well, or for that matter watching the movie well either. The Sheriff is not McCarthy’s voice, if McCarthy’s voice appears in the novel it is as the old deputy ‘Ellis’ who tells him this violence is nothing new that this has -never- been a ‘country for old men’. McCarthy may have some conservative cracker barrel types as fans, some of whom have posted their idiocy on this blog, but he is not such a type himself and a close reading of his novels would reveal that.

    There are a couple important elements that I haven’t seen discussed much here or elsewhere:

    1. The role of animals and humans relation to them in the film. I am not 100% certain of this but I believe McCarthy is a vegetarian (someone who has access to the vanity fair interview or who knows might be able to confirm or disconfirm this). In any case animal life plays a central role in many of his his novels and human empathy for animal life is in a way a test of a characters humanity. Thus when you watch the movie play close attention to how the various characters relate to animals. When we first meet Moss he is somewhat of a hardened man, Vietnam vet, scraping by doing odd welding jobs, worn down by society. We can see the hardness in him from the first scene with him when he is hunting the antelope and also in his initial reaction to the dying Mexican in the truck. However somewhere within him he still has a spark of humanity left (perhaps also the hidden fire that the Sheriff sees his dead father carrying ahead in the dream later) which causes quixotically to risk his life and go back to try and give the dying man a jug of water. It is this action which catches him up in the chase and starts the drama (not taking the money before). Also, I think that Chigurh uses a weapon that is used to kill cattle is no accident but am still undecided as exactly how to interpret it. There is an incident with Chigurh and a bird as well.

    2. Chance. Contingency. These are central concepts of the novel, of the movie and of McCarthy’s work as a whole. (Perhaps not ‘accident’ then that he spends his time down at the Santa Fe Institute). Life in McCarthy’s universe (and I think in ours as well) has a radical contingency to it. He attempts to expose this contingency to us, shake us out of our amnesia and complacency. The role of contingent events in the film is thus no accident as well.

    I can see why someone sitting down and watching the film expecting certain cinematic and plot conventions might be frustrated by the ending. I saw several people who had that reaction when I went to the theater today. I went expecting the Coen brothers’ interpretation of a Cormac McCarthy novel. As such I thought the film was masterful and I have trouble imagining a better film take on the novel. So I was not disappointed.

    The broader reason I am posting though is not some difference with Louis in taste in film but because I think that his dismissal of McCarthy is not correct, that is it is not a dismissal that Marxists should make. This however is a much bigger discussion that would involve some knowledge and close discussion of McCarthy’s novels. It is true that some on the right have taken McCarthy as one of their own but he has never embraced any political label either personally or in his work. If McCarthy is a conservative it is a very peculiar sort of conservative and not the general parlance. It is true that McCarthy is no liberal (in the sense of the the sixties epithet). However that should not be problem for a Marxist. McCarthy’s obsession with the down and outs of society with class and class rage (see his only screenplay) and with maintaining the spark of humanity in brutal and highly contingent environments are also obsessions that I share and I think Marxists in general should share.

    Comment by dave p — November 23, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  34. So the nation doesn’t like McCarthy. Big surprise there. However they are simply wrong about the novel. The sheriff is not McCarthy’s voice or is so only unreliably. (In the movie for example remember the incident where the sheriff admits to telling tall tales). Also the book is not ‘disillusioned’ any more than McCarthy is a ‘nihlist’. It is true it is a dark work as with all of McCarthy’s fiction but ultimately it is an affirmation of hope and humanity. It is also true that one can point to isolated sentences of McCarthy’s that are cliched or overly sentimental. As a whole though he manages to avoid these.

    Comment by dave p — November 23, 2007 @ 7:34 pm

  35. I am not familiar with McCarthy at all. I have never read any of his books, nor do I have any intentions of doing so. I hated the ending of this movie. I agree with the writer here that once Moss was killed, the movie went downhill. Not that I was hoping for some formulaic shoot-em-up ending, but something more than Moss getting killed off-screen, Chigurh getting in a car-accident, and the good sheriff pontificating about how bad people have become just before we fade to black would have been nice. The first 95% of this movie was awesome. Suspensful…dryly humorous…tastefully violent. If not for the last 5%, I would have put this up there with my favorite movie of the last few years…The Departed. Many people did not like the last 5% of that movie, but I thought it was excellent. And no matter how good the ending of this movie could have been, it is not in the same class as Pulp Fiction or Blood Simple.

    Comment by Chris Fiorentino — November 24, 2007 @ 5:17 pm

  36. This movie had no payoff and was a great waste of time and attention. Plain and simple: It sucked!!!!

    Comment by John Law — November 25, 2007 @ 2:42 am

  37. The reason that people don’t like the ending is because there is never the big showdown they were expecting between the two “main” characters, Moss and Chigurh. The problem is that they are both just supporting characters. The title tells you who is the focus of this movie. It’s the “Old Man” Tommy Lee Jones. Moss exists only to have someone for Chigurh to hunt and to show how evil he with various acts of murder in his pursuit. Chigurh just represents evil incarnate and how unstoppable it can be. Jones recognizes how evil not just Chigurh is, but how evil society is becoming in general.

    The opening narration starts with Jones talking about “pushing all his chips in” and his scenes throughout reinforce Jones’ wisdom that it is sometimes better to do the smart thing instead of doing the brave or “noble” thing. The final scene was well done and if the detractors had actually LISTENED to what was being said they would have gotten the point.

    Comment by DSS — November 25, 2007 @ 6:23 am

  38. No payoff? Look you’re not playing a slot machine. What is this a demonstration of how low we can dumb down? Learn to read. Get educated. Find out what art is.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 25, 2007 @ 12:09 pm

  39. “The final scene was well done and if the detractors had actually LISTENED to what was being said they would have gotten the point.”

    Actually, listening to the Sheriff was an exercise in tedium. I grew up in a small town and heard that kind of “the world is going to hell in a handbasket” all through the 1960s. I would have much preferred a showdown between Anton and his stun-gun and Lewellen armed with a chainsaw. Just as Anton is about to put the bolt through Lewellen’s forehead, the Sheriff comes to the rescue with a sword like the one that Bruce Willis used in the basement of the pawn shop in “Pulp Fiction”. Now, that would have been a movie!

    Comment by louisproyect — November 25, 2007 @ 2:27 pm

  40. The ending sucked. NO QUESTION about it. I’m not one that needs everything tied up in a neat little bow. But give me a break. The directors could have at LEAST put some tape on the wrapping paper. MANY people in the crowd booed vocally when the credits rolled.

    Comment by Dan — November 25, 2007 @ 10:23 pm

  41. I like how Louis ignores some of the good points made here in order just to further his own points. It’s too bad his own points just involve him talking about his wife and how he wished the ending would have been like a standard western. Geez, Louis, sorry you couldn’t be bothered to try and say something logically valid.
    Anyways, like someone else said, the point the sheriff was making wasn’t McCarthy’s point. The sheriff sharing his dreams at the end, about how he lost his father’s money and how his father went on ahead of him, ignoring him to make a campfire, seem to magnify the sadness and shame Bell feels at quitting his job. He was given a trust, he was supposed to protect, but instead he gave in to the easy temptation of saying that the world is going to hell. He made excuses for why he couldn’t handle it anymore. As his uncle said, the world’s always been a rough, harsh place. It’s not a new thing. And criticizing the movie for having the viewpoint that “the world is going to hell” is like criticizing Jonathan Swift for wanting people to eat babies–if you came away thinking that was the ultimate point, you weren’t paying attention.

    Comment by Andy — November 26, 2007 @ 3:27 am

  42. I just heard they showed the movie in the White House. The Prez didn’t like the ending. He wanted it tied up so he could understand: something like yes or no, dead or alive, win or lose, mission accomplished.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — November 26, 2007 @ 11:36 am

  43. 1) He was hunting Antelope, not deer
    2) The money was not in a satchel, but a case
    3) Going back to give the dying guy water made no difference in long run as he was unaware of the transponder in the case so they would have found him out later rathyer than sooner had he not returned.
    4) They ending was true to the book. Remember the Player when they change it to a Hollywood ending for mass appeal. Thank God they didn;t do that here.

    If you are going to review a movie, get you basic facts straight.

    I thought this movie was great on every level and the non formulaic, philosphical ending was refreshing. Only a few people groaned in a packed house.

    Comment by thegup — November 26, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

  44. All I have to say is that, if there is a God, he sent you to this world. I despised that movie and you give comfort to those of us who came out screaming. I seriously started yelling and swore to never watch a movie again since this movie came hot on the heels of “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” a film I think you would equally destroy. I love you. Thank you.

    Comment by Matt — November 29, 2007 @ 8:46 pm

  45. i’m not clear on why the coen brothers want to revisit the getaway or fargo. those movies have been made.
    whatever you think about the ending, the kind of displeasure you all are voicing is actually very difficult to achieve. Maybe that’s a bit coy, but i’ve thought about it a lot. (and it is Marxism)
    The only criticism i have is they left out the part about Vietnam and the militarization of our society. When Sherriff goes into the room in the book he waits for backup. He was scared. I wish they’d made that clear in the movie.

    Comment by alex — November 29, 2007 @ 10:26 pm

  46. I think this is a case where the movie was made for the producers own selfish satisfaction and not the audience, which is sad. I didn’t need a hollywood ending, a closing gunfight, or even the death of Anton. However, I did need some sort of closure and I would have liked to have seen a scene where Moss was killed off. Like the majority of the public I do not go to the movies to learn about the reality of life. I go to the movies to escape that reality and get some sort of satisfaction, which I was completely deprived of in watching this film.

    Comment by K.F. — December 1, 2007 @ 2:11 am

  47. Speaking of complex, unexpected and emotionally wrenching endings, I just finished watching “Gone, Baby, Gone”. It is directed by Ben Affleck, who just might have found a proper outlet for his talents, and stars his younger brother Casey who was also excellent in “The Assassination of Jesse James.” Let’s put it this way, the Coens should aspire to make movies like this.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 1, 2007 @ 2:41 am

  48. Glad your marriage stayed intact. I probably would rate this film positively on the whole but not without a heap of misgivings. My friend Keith Uhlich – the only other outright dissenter among critics that I can think of – probably more closely shares your level of disdain.

    Comment by alsolikelife — December 1, 2007 @ 4:33 am

  49. Let me clear up this movie for all those out there who are confused. It is easy to understand the confusion, since the end of the movie was technically unclear as to what happened in the scene between Sheriff Ed Tom Bell and Chigurh. I will explain. I liked the movie alot, but the scene between the Sheriff and Chigurh could have been clearer.

    Lewellen Moss was killed by the Mexicans fleeing the motel. This is clearly shown in the movie. The Mexicans may have gotten the money, but this is not the point, and it is not important to the meaning of the movie. Either the Mexicans got the money, or Chigurh got the money from the vent in the El Paso Motel. The last place the money was seen was in Moss’s hand while retrieving it from under the bridge. We must assume that he carried it to El Paso, and maybe hid it in the motel vent. The vent was opened in the same manner Chigurh used with the coin. However, the vent was clearly too small to fit the size of the case holding the money. If I had to guess, I would say that the Mexicans got the money because Moss was unable to stash it in time within the too small vent . The Mexicans came, took the money, killed Moss, and left. If the Mexicans did not find the money, they would not have killed Moss so fast. But it is also possible that Chigurh got the money from the vent after the Mexicans left. Again, I do not think who got the money is important. The movie is about unfairness, chance and uncertainty in life. It is about morality, and choices, and the partially random nature of the universe. This is not a simple drug and money tale.

    The Sheriff entered the motel room. Chigurh was shown twice hiding behind the door with his shotgun. Sheriff saw the opened vent, figured the money was gone, and left. Sheriff did not see Chigurh hiding behind the door. Sheriff was brave, and tried to confront the killer, but chance intervened. He was lucky. Chigurh was lucky. Carla Jeans was unlucky, and her fate is now set, since Chigurh gets away. By chance! The scene was poorly done, and not clear. I am told that the book shows Chigurh watching from the parking lot, as the Sheriff enters and leaves. The movie probably should have done the scene this way, but Chigurh hiding in the room was more suspenseful. This is my only criticism of the movie.

    Carla Jean was killed. Chigurh looking at his shoes as he leaves her house is all the proof you need. A wickedly funny way to resolve sweet little Carla Jean! Very sick.

    The meaning of this movie is that life has a large component of chance built in. Chigurh says a number of times that both The Coin and Chigurh have been traveling thru space and time to get to the point of the coin toss. “The coin got here the same way that I did”. People are atoms traveling thru space and time just like a coin. Call it. Heads or Tails. Lives can be changed in unfair and random ways. When you tell Chigurh “You don’t have to do this”, Chigurh agrees, and gives you a coin toss for your life. He re-emphasizes the nature of chance in your fate. “You can’t stop what’s comin’. It ain’t all waitin’ on you. That’s vanity.”

    The scene where Chigurh is in the car, going thru a green light, and gets hit by another car says that even Chigurh is subject to fate and chance. I would not have thought it possible to make a movie on the Quantum Theory set in West Texas, but that is exactly what we have here!

    Life often has nothing to do with morality, goodness, or evil. I personally do not think that this is bad. The nature of chance makes life way more interesting than if everything were pre-ordained, from the beginning. There is no plan, get used to it! You can still have your beliefs and live life according to your morality. I wish I had realized this earlier in life. I think the philosopher Nietzsche would have loved this movie!

    America has always been a rough place. Sheriff’s relatives were murdered by Indians, and his dad was killed confronting criminals. America has always had a soft spot for violence and criminal adventure. America IS the Country that is “No place for old men” !! So what? Accept this and deal with it.

    I also liked the Soprano ending. Tony definitely got wacked, because Tony and Bobby Bacala discussed twice what getting wacked would feel like. They said “It would just go black”. Plus the black screen at the end was displayed for a long time. This was important. The scene in the restaurant showed two song titles in the jukebox. “Don’t Stop Believing” , and “Any Way You Want It”. Choose your own ending! Very funny. David Chase has said that he could never believe the number of Americans who liked Tony, and that were unable to figure out that Tony was not supposed to be a sympathetic character. Martin Scorsese says the same thing about Goodfellas. America is a VERY sick place. No doubt about it.

    This is written by: Robert Soprano (Tony’s long lost brother).

    Maybe you need to be Italian to understand and appreciate this movie. I loved it.

    robertsoprano@hotmail.com

    Comment by Robert Soprano — December 1, 2007 @ 10:44 am

  50. It’s so easy to take a shot at endings like these. So sorry they can’t satiate your desire for closure but I’m afraid that stories in life don’t always end with closure my friend. This film and the Sopranos are perfect examples of things that had to end this way. It would have been so easy to end the Sopranos with an exciting event or Tony getting whacked, but the beauty of the series is that it was about the Sopranos the family. They were a family when the series started and through all the bullshit and drama the nine seasons carried them through they came out of it still loving each other and still a cohesive family unit. That was the most beautiful and caring ending with regard to the characters that was possible. Anything else would have satisfied more people I’m sure but it would have lacked the artistic merit behind the abrupt ending. Same goes for NCFOM, this films entire meaning and depth beneath the story of the money and the two men is carried within Tommy Lee’s character and his attitude toward the case and human nature. Sure there could’ve been the big gun fight with the sheriff and the bad guy but that’s been done, that’s tired and formulaic. The Coen’s and David Chase are artists who know that satisfying the audience should come after the message when the message is the meaning behind telling the story, they both know when to let people down for the greater cause of artful storytelling.

    Comment by Ryan — December 1, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  51. I’ve been reading up and let me clear some things up for you all:

    -Chigurh didn’t get the money, he walked off at the end without anything to show for all the killing he did (that was the point) and the last interaction we see with him is the child selflessly offering the coldhearted killer the shirt off his back

    -Moss was killed by Mexicans who may or may not have got the money. It’s intentionally ambiguous b/c all that matters is Chirgurh and Moss didn’t get the money and all the earlier violence was pointless for that reason. If you look at the door when Moss’s dead body is laying there the lock was still in the knob so that means Chirgurh came later to check the room. He was still there when the sheriff arrived b/c he didn’t find it. It couldn’t have fit in the vent.

    -The point of it all is that as you get older you realize that you didn’t get to change the world like you may have wanted to and all your ideals are harder to hold onto b/c as you age you realize how genuinely fucked up the world is and it seems like it’s getting worse. Though the truth and the point of the film is that mankind hasn’t changed all of a sudden, these deplorable things have been happening all through the history of man and green has always been the primary reason. This has never been a country for old men, there is literally no country anywhere for old men because old men know the way of the world and man and it brings them down. The sheriff didn’t even care to investigate the case because of this, he didn’t do anything actively. He even brought up the air gun weapon in conversation in the diner but didn’t make the connection with that being why they didn’t find a bullet in that mans head. That just shows how uninterested and lethargic he’d become.

    -Chigurh killed Moss’s girl as a matter of principle, but none of them had the money

    Comment by Ryan — December 1, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

  52. #52: “That just shows how uninterested and lethargic he’d become.”

    As had I.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 1, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  53. Do we want a film critic who is uninterested and lethargic?

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 1, 2007 @ 3:27 pm

  54. More than we need movies that make film critics uninterested and lethargic.

    Comment by Jeff — December 2, 2007 @ 1:36 am

  55. Just saw this tonight. Defcon 1 Turd Alert. If you want to wax rhapsodic about the revelations laid forth in this film, feel free. Films where you have to convince everyone how great the thing is aren’t really that great. It’s just that the viewer wants to feel important by saying how deep and meaningful some dried up rambling dialogue and scene after scene of pointless chase-kill-let sheriff ramble is. All who oppose are deemed to just “not have gotten it.” Ok, fine by me! You’re the winner, yay!

    Comment by Joe Bob — December 2, 2007 @ 3:52 am

  56. That’s right. Dumb it down. Hit the bottom where there’s no mental strain. But then don’t raise the flag of Marx. He actually read the authors he talked about.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 2, 2007 @ 10:16 am

  57. Haha, well maybe you should’ve called your review “No Movie For an Old Man” because you must be quite learned yourself to so easily dismiss the last fifteen minutes of a film you claim moved along nicely until the end. Would a climactic gunfight have justified the violence, and did it matter if we saw Moss die after the amount of violence we saw already? The fact that neglecting to show it actually happen is met with consternation among the audience seems akin to cinematic bloodlust. Moss could’ve gotten away with the money had he not gotten exceedingly greedy and gone back to the site, and then he doomed his wife because of his hubris. Should the Coen’s have rewarded him? The sheriff may have had a nihilistic view but the man in the wheelchair straightened him out and let him know things had always been bad and it wasn’t as if things are getting worse. You may have had that realization in life already so that’s why the thought lacked poignancy in your eyes. Ultimately I found the film hopeful because it’s message wasn’t romantic but it was positive. Chigurh didn’t get the money nor revenge by killing Moss, and Moss’ wife forced him to confront his own nature by killing her. Evil didn’t prevail but was extinguished because he was an archetype and evil will only die out with mankind. Greed didn’t win because no one important got the money. Good didn’t save the day as is often the case, but great good was evident in most of the minor characters encountered throughout the film and is presented as the predominant trait among people. In the random encounters I definitely saw the majority of people as helpful and kind. This may not be the cliche Hollywood wrap-up we’re all so used to but the end is what lent the bulk of the weight to the reality of the whole story and was necessary to deliver the message behind the story. Currently it may not be fashionable to explore human nature in cinema because it seems to more commonly help us escape thought than stimulate it these days, but good filmmakers tend to explore these things. I personally got a lot out of it. If fifteen minutes of content meant to stimulate thought can destroy the entirety of your moviegoing experience by making you uninterested and lethargic then you must know a lot or not care to learn. Old men are good for imparting knowledge to those who care to listen. If our audiences cannot have their thoughts stimulated and seriously need fifteen more minutes of bullets blaring to enjoy this film then call me a nihilist because this is surely not a country for young men either.

    Comment by Ryan — December 2, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  58. “Good didn’t save the day as is often the case, but great good was evident in most of the minor characters encountered throughout the film and is presented as the predominant trait among people. In the random encounters I definitely saw the majority of people as helpful and kind.”

    Exactly. To call Cormac McCarthy’s books nihilist is a mistake that only someone who hasn’t read them could make. Unless, of course, he uses nihilist as a general term of abuse for writers who don’t peddle his particular sectarian ideology.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 2, 2007 @ 6:13 pm

  59. (Correction)
    “Evil didn’t prevail nor was it extinguished…”

    Comment by Ryan — December 2, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

  60. Chigurh got away you pretentious twat.

    The movie ends with Tommy Lee Jones basically saying that a world where people help each other exists only in his dreams, having given up completely on the real world, and the entire movie leading up to it lends itself quite fairly to that end.

    You’re seeing something that is actually not present in the movie.

    Comment by Cindy — December 3, 2007 @ 12:58 am

  61. Excuse me but I said he got away, hence the correction in syntax. Evil didn’t prevail meaning he didn’t get the money, nor was it extinguished meaning he didn’t die. I remember the end speech clearly and he was speaking of his father passing him on the road and setting up a fire in the distance that he knew he was heading towards. I thought this was another reference to the road as life, he said his father died at a younger age than he was presently at which is why the father sped passed him in the dream. People helped each other throughout the entire film. The border guard gave Moss a break, the lady at the trailer park refused to give out his information to Chigurh, a man was about to give Moss a ride despite him being covered with blood and holding a shotgun, and there are more examples. If you’re going to say that what I saw was not present at least specify exactly what that is in reference too unless you are saying everything I got out of it was totally off the mark. Why is it that people cannot congenially state their point of view, it’s like if you don’t have a valid argument to make and you still disagree with someone the solution tends to be either avoid, attack, or both. You easily dismiss all my theories and lend no actual evidence toward supporting your own. But you did have a point when you called me a pretentious twat I suppose.

    Comment by Ryan — December 3, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  62. OK folks, let’s clear some stuff up here. I can understand why the film may confuse you if you aren’t playing close attention, but all the essentials are there to figure out what happened. It certainly helps to have actually read the book. Here’s the breakdown (do I really have to say SPOILER WARNING?):

    Moss is killed off-screen by Mexicans, both in the movie and the book.
    Moss is the guy lying inside the motel room door. The guy crawling away to die is a Mexican. Moss shot him. The victim in the pool is the bikini girl.
    Chigurh gets the money later, after the police have left. It was inside the vent.
    In the film, Chigurh may or may not be in the room when Sheriff Bell goes in.
    In the book, Chigurh is in a truck in the motel parking lot, watching Bell. He leaves, undectected, with the money, shortly after.
    In the book, Chigurh gives the money to another drug bigwig as a business offer. The money was not what Chigurh was after. I wish this had been included in the film.
    Chigurh kills Carla Jean some time (weeks?) after his “business meeting.”
    Chigurh disappears after the car wreck in the book and the film.
    Sheriff Bell’s monologue at the end of the film is verbatim the last passage of the book.

    Comment by Chris K — December 4, 2007 @ 4:53 pm

  63. ” No Country for Old Men” is like a couple of hours of petting, leading you hope to a climactic moment in boudoir, but like most heavy petting sessions it ends with you desperately wanting more than you got. it is amazing to me that the Coen Brothers were able to convince a studio to finance this movie with no ending, maybe they fibbed and said it was coming. Nora Ephron compared it to the last episode of the the Sopranos, the sad black screen, good enough. If you like movies that go black just when they should be climaxing then you’ll love this over rated pot boiler BUT if you prefer even the hint of resolution then you will not much care for this film that so desperately wanted to be great.

    Note to Coen Bros. : bad book endings make for even worse movie endings.

    Comment by carson — December 7, 2007 @ 5:53 am

  64. Dear Carson: For that sort of thing you go to a brothel.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 7, 2007 @ 12:17 pm

  65. “It’s so hard to take people from Texas seriously in the first place.”

    Quite a fool. How does one expect to be taken seriously when saying something so ignorant?

    Comment by Dustin — December 9, 2007 @ 10:51 pm

  66. “It is one thing not to have a conventional happy ending and it is another not to have an ending at all. In this flick, we don’t know what happened to the money, who killed Lewellen, whether his wife was killed or not, etc.”

    All of those questions were answered, you just weren’t paying close enough attention. Chigurh got the money, as evidenced by the open vent with the dime, the Mexicans killed Lewellen, his wife was obviously killed as we see Chigurh checking his boots for blood as he exits her home.

    I also wonder why you feel qualified to comment on McCarthy’s novels when you admittedly haven’t read any of them.

    Comment by Nick — December 11, 2007 @ 1:41 am

  67. the fact that this discussion is taking place is proof positive of this films brilliance. I can live witht he Sopranos ending but it was anticlimactic because the SOpranos was, in many respects melodramatic and required a snappy ending, this movies ending was fantastic. For those who criticize it I say, how else should this story end? Do we need a neat little bow? Life goes on, people we like die, people we hate thrive. It happens sometimes. Life can be random and while this visciousness may seem over the top its no more vicious than something that is happening this moment as you read this sentence. The movie was fantastic. One of the best up there with Blood Simple, Fargo, Raising Arizona, BArton Fink etc. For those who hated it keep your eyes peeled for the next TOm Cruise vehicle as Im sure the ending will satisfy you

    Comment by brent — December 11, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

  68. I don’t know how much “discussion” there has been. Most people who didn’t care for the film made their case and moved on. Mostly this thread has consisted of people defending the film multiple times in some cases. If the film was so great, there would be no need to defend it. Who would bother to write comments on a blog that had attacked “Citizen Kane”? Maybe the Coens could have had Lewellen utter these words just before dying, but in the opening scene: “Bud Rose”. And then the movie could have used flashbacks to explain who Bud Rose was–a camp counselor who taught him how to shoot, or maybe his driver’s ed teacher. Now that would have been a movie…

    Comment by louisproyect — December 12, 2007 @ 12:06 am

  69. If Marx is so great why does he need a web site to be unrepentent for him?

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 12, 2007 @ 10:15 am

  70. Mr. Proyect:

    Whether or not I agree with your viewpoint (which, for the record, I do not), you severely diminish your own credibility each time you misspell the first name of the main protagonist. It’s “Llewelyn,” not “Lewellen.” If you can’t get the basic facts correct in your own writing, perhaps Fox News has some positions for which you may be suitable.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Phoebe — December 13, 2007 @ 12:08 pm

  71. “…as a movie not having a successful climax is concerned, I may be a bit old-fashioned but I like movies and sexual intercourse to have climaxes.”

    I thought the ending was great. I’ve been spoon-fed enough cliche endings to last me the rest of my life. And what the hell does a climax have to do with the end of a story? Climaxes, as far as film and lit are concerned, don’t always have to cum at the end. I think the climax of this movie is the conversation between killer and wife.

    PS- Not to be rude, but whoever said that the Coehn’s only good movies were Bloodsimple and Fargo is a moron. The Big Lebowski is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen and has two of my favorite characters in all of film or literature, not to mention one of the most original stories ever.

    Comment by steven — December 14, 2007 @ 11:16 pm

  72. PSS… What the hell does Marxism have to do with film anyway? Aren’t you guys supposed to be boycotting this type of droll entertainment in order to show support for the mistreated soda jerks behind the counter.

    Comment by steven — December 14, 2007 @ 11:18 pm

  73. #73: What the hell does Marxism have to do with film anyway? Aren’t you guys supposed to be boycotting this type of droll entertainment in order to show support for the mistreated soda jerks behind the counter.

    Actually, Hollywood was filled with commies until they got witch-hunted out. So instead of movies like Abraham Polonsky’s “Force of Evil”, you got Doris Day instead. Based on your stubby-fingered prose, I imagine that you are quite familiar with Doris Day.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 14, 2007 @ 11:49 pm

  74. Well, well, we’re down to slamming objectors’ prose style now. Next we’ll be correcting misspellings of unrepentant. Isn’t that what they call class warfare? And we’re weeping for the blacklisted again. Odd that when I met these people in London they were all living high off the hog and engaged in properous careers.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 15, 2007 @ 9:47 am

  75. Reader “prosperous”, dear teacher, and don’t slap my wrist.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 15, 2007 @ 9:52 am

  76. Byrne, your problem isn’t spelling but reading comprehension. I know that people like Jules Dassin made movies in Europe. The issue is not that they became impoverished (although some individuals, especially actors who could obviously not find work so easily overseas in another language, did); instead, as I pointed out, *we* became impoverished. People like Dalton Trumbo, Jules Dassin, Abraham Polonsky, Carl Foreman and Norman Lloyd (the subject of a recent documentary) were the cultural elite. After they were purged, Hollywood movies became less interesting. It took a retreat from the Cold War and the witch-hunt to allow Hollywood to take artistic and political risks again.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 15, 2007 @ 7:00 pm

  77. And your problem, Proyect, is that you’re sentimental about the 1930s. If you want to shed tears over an erased artistic genius, take Vsevolod Meyerhold. He wasn’t a pushy Hollywood dude who picked up a fashionable ideology and suffered a hiccough in his career for it. He got a bullet in the back of his neck. Stalin was a principled drama critic.

    Jules Dassin was only one of the blacklisted whose career blossomed in exile. Think of Joseph Losey. But there were many more. The martyr’s pose titillated the British upper classes. If you were prestigious enough to be invited to one of their Hampstead soirées, you could listen first-hand to the blackballed. They’d tell you how they missed their beach house and the red-eye flight back and forth to New York over the vile hinterland.

    Not that these people didn’t make a positive contribution. They were a fillip for the London stage, for instance. But it was because of technical ability, not because of their progressive agenda, which didn’t seem to be much in evidence any more. It could even be argued that the boycott kafuffle worked out fine all around. To believe Hollywood would be different today if the exiles had remained is to live in a pre-Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact dream, a sentimental and romantic 1930s’ dream.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 16, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  78. #78: I have no idea why Byrne is throwing Stalin in my face. My political background as a critic of Stalin, including his cultural policies, is well-established.

    With respect to the notion of a “boycott kafuffle”, I assume this is a reference to people being driven from their jobs. What an Orwellian use of language. I boycotted grapes in the 1960s. RKO did not “boycott” Dalton Trumbo.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 16, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

  79. I threw Meyerhold in your face, not Stalin. Anyone but a psychopath is anti-Stalin now — when it’s too late. Why is the American Left so parochial in its hero-worship? My God! The Hollywood Martyrs! We’re talking about years when half the world was losing its life, not an overpaid job in California.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 17, 2007 @ 11:02 am

  80. Well this film has certainly generated a huge amount of discussion. It is telling of the popularity of the Cohens’ movies with the intellectually- minded. I have certainly enjoyed some of their films, and I’m sure like many others, appreciate their originality and quirkiness, as compared to the run of the mill Hollywood commercial productions. Due to that, I had high expectations for this film. I forgot, that I’ve already learned from life, that expectations are the surest way to set myself up for disappointment. It seems really interesting to me, how many people’s critique of the film seems dependent on their experience of the source material. I read, that this was the first time, that the Cohens had adapted a film from a book. I have not read the book, and do not expect to have to read a book, as a prerequisite for appreciating or comprehending a film. From the information I’ve read about the book by those, who’ve read it, it seems to me, that the movie adaptation wasn’t very successful. I appreciate aspects of the film more, after reading people’s analysis, but I wonder if, that does indicate a failure of the film itself to be self-revelatory ? In my opinion the intent of the film’s message was lost due to the heavy accent on the sensationalistic thriller aspects. This seemed to overwhelm the more subtle ideas, as presented in the sheriff’s musings. For me the tone and pace were that of an action movie, so trying to turn it around to being reflective so late in the film seemed jarring and in-cohesive. I felt the sheriff’s part’s throughout the movie were too insignificant compared to the action sequences to try to hinge the intent of the film’s meaning on him at the very end. I felt, that he wasn’t an important enough figure up until that point to carry this off. Also I found the choice of “big star” Tommy Lee Jones as the sheriff, to detract from the film, much in the same way, as I cringed at seeing Tom Cruise in a film like War of the World’s. He’s too obvious, played the same role too many times and his celebrity stature tended to get in the way of me seeing the the character, whom he was supposed to be playing. Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, I found them all great. I didn’t need annotations to get the point. I certainly seem to be in the critical minority, but despite its craft I found this movie to be intellectually unsatisfying and emotionally unmoving.

    Comment by Carlos Idelone — December 22, 2007 @ 7:33 am

  81. You shouldn’t have to read the novel it’s from to appreciate a movie. But when a reviewer brings in that novel, and the author’s other work, as part of his criticism, he forces us to consider the source material. This is all the more true when said critic admits he hasn’t read a line of the author.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 22, 2007 @ 11:00 am

  82. Many thanks for your review. I came to you through Google, after seeing the hype at r-tomatoes & longing for someone who realized this movie was as phony as an armadillo necklace. Thanks for the Nora Ephron link, too. I like dark, I like random, I like unconventional endings, I even kinda liked the Big Lebowski. But me no like this corn-pone psuedo-existenstialism.

    Comment by mofo — December 25, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

  83. Wonderful side-commentary on McCarthy’s novels in your review.

    There’s much to be said about the patience and perspicacity of a person who’s ready to dismiss–and condemn–the entire body of work of a writer without having read a single first sentence from any of his or her novels. How ridiculous! Your hasty judgment of McCarthy (and everything he’s ever written!) without having read him is telling indeed. It causes me to wonder: how great, then, is your commitment to attention when you watch a movie … and with how much incisiveness are you subsequently able to review it?

    Comment by Brett — December 26, 2007 @ 4:44 pm

  84. #84: People can form judgments on writers without ever having read them. I live in the USA, after all, where 90 percent of the population in the 1950s was willing to go to war with the USSR in order to exterminate Marxism. Had any of them ever read Karl Marx? Most assuredly not. I include myself in this group, since I was as brainwashed as anybody. On the merits of Cormac McCarthy. I was not really dealing with him as an artist, but as a *political thinker*. I found his view of the Comanches deeply troubling. I say this as somebody who has studied American Indian politics and history in some depth. You can of course write novels with shitty politics that are still worth reading. I say this as a fan of Evelyn Waugh and even V.S. Naipul’s early work.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 26, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  85. This has to be one of the most uninformed reviews I’ve read in I don’t know when; details of the film are often flat wrong, and the philosophy that informs the gimpy writing is so narrow as to make me question what this cinematic coward is doing reviewing films in the first place. What the hell kind of critique is it to say that the movie defeats viewer expectations by resisting a Sam Peckinpah cliche for an ending? Or is Louis Proyect’s real criticism that the film didn’t fall into a neat genre mold that required no real thought on his part, but merely simple reaction? Go back to washing dishes at the Sizzler, Lou Boy. Quit wasting people’s intellectual time with such gutless claptrap.

    Comment by Frank Rabey — December 27, 2007 @ 3:38 am

  86. #86: I believe that I have corrected all the errors. Somebody told me that I spelled Llewelyn wrong and I fixed that. Somebody else told me that it was a briefcase that Llewelyn found and not a satchel. That I fixed too. But I don’t know how anybody can fix that ludicrous ending.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 27, 2007 @ 3:51 am

  87. You found McCarthy’s views of the Comanches “deeply troubling” did you? Now, what is it, precisely, about those views that you find so troubling? Please elaborate. If you’re able to elaborate without first reading them … well, that is a miracle of criticism, and I congratulate you. People certainly can “form judgments on writers without ever having read them,” as you say. But then there’s also a way of doing it responsibly. Y

    Certainly this form of analysis will save you time; you can begin reviewing movies now without first watching them. By the way, your attempt to support your original comments by referencing the McCarthyism of the 50s, is simply perfect. The unintentional ironies in just your single paragraph waddle like wooden ducks all set to be shot.

    I am amazed. You can judge a writer without reading? What a time saver. Your review of this movie? A dreadful time waster.

    Comment by Brett — December 27, 2007 @ 4:38 am

  88. Hear this. Pontificating about Cormac McCarthy’s novels without reading them is like 90% of the US public wanting to fight the Soviet Union in the 1950s without reading Marx. And not reading Alice in Wonderland is like cheering on the Boer War.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 27, 2007 @ 8:48 am

  89. #88: Please elaborate.

    McCarthy’s fan site describes “Blood Meridian” as challenging “the politically correct myth of aboriginal victimization, so that victims and their antagonists become indistinguishable.” To even entertain this possibility is tantamount to writing a novel putting the Warsaw Ghetto uprising on the same level as the blitzkrieg into Poland. I have not blogged about American Indians here, but you can read what I have written here:

    http://www.columbia.edu/%7Elnp3/mydocs/myindian.htm

    Comment by louisproyect — December 27, 2007 @ 12:54 pm

  90. #85 “On the merits of Cormac McCarthy, I was not only dealing with him as an artist, but as a *political thinker*.”

    If you’re reviewing a movie or a novel, you deal primarily with the artist and his artifact. Then, if it’s relevant, you talk about his politics. Only if you’re reviewing a political statement, do you center on the author’s politics. That’s basic, Left, Right or Center. If you judge McCarthy by how you think he sees Native Americans, you put his work on exactly the same level as the most insignificant 1930s horse opera. And that’s a mistake, because serious artists are rare in America.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 27, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  91. I did not even notice that Brolin’s character was dead that is how insignificant the ending of thi movie played out. The movie cannot be applauded for having an “unconventional” ending. That feat i rarely achieved by films with suspensful endings. Thi ending was just a snooze that made a good movie nothing more then a mere fart in the wind.

    Comment by Matt — December 27, 2007 @ 9:26 pm

  92. So, let me get this straight. You’re defending your stance on judging McCarthy’s work–without having read it–on the fact that you found a sentence on a fan site explaining that Blood Meridian “dismantles the politically correct myth of aboriginal victimization, so that victims and their antagonists become indistinguishable”? You are a complete fool. Try reading the book. Read it. Read it even with the depthless perception of your pre-conceived notions, and you’ll find out how ridiculously out of context you’ve taken these words.

    Do you not see the ludicrousness of such a stance? You are an irresponsible writer with little to say other than what tends to reinforce what you’ve already chosen to believe.

    Thanks for the link to your further writings, but I’ve opted to treat them exactly as you would: without reading them, I’m judging them unworthy of my time. Does that make sense to you? Of course not. Because it’s logically indefensible.

    Comment by Brett — December 27, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  93. #93: So, let me get this straight. You’re defending your stance on judging McCarthy’s work–without having read it–on the fact that you found a sentence on a fan site explaining that Blood Meridian “dismantles the politically correct myth of aboriginal victimization, so that victims and their antagonists become indistinguishable”?

    Actually, the sentence was written by Rick Wallach, a major Cormac McCarthy scholar and author of two collections of essays dealing with the redneck existentialist. He is also the secretary of the Cormac McCarthy society, whose website I was quoting, and on the editorial board of the journal they publish. If I can’t take his word about “the politically correct myth of aboriginal victimization”, whose should I take? I would say that to even consider the possibility that there was a “myth” about the very real genocide that took place here is to stray into Rush Limbaugh territory. As I tried to point out, you can be a vicious rightwinger and write entertaining fiction as V.S. Naipul would indicate. I just don’t feel motivated to read that sort of thing, when there are Patricia Highsmiths out there.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 27, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

  94. I’m fine if you’re not motivated to read it. But how can you responsibly judge its merits–artistically or politically–without reading!!?? Were we to trust only Nabokov’s critique of Cervantes’s literary worth, no one would read Quixote anymore.

    And this is exactly how you’re using Wallach. Strangely, though, Wallach is in all cases a great admirer of McCarthy. You trust Wallach enough to borrow from him a single, isolated sentence and use it to typify an entire novel’s worldview … and yet the trust doesn’t extend to his greater argument: that the book is a modern masterpiece. Could it be that there is more to the book–and more to McCarthy–than the single sentence you’ve employed to define him?

    Comment by Brett — December 28, 2007 @ 11:41 pm

  95. So Patricia Highsmith passes the Unrepentant Marxist’s test of great literature. Wait a minute. She might have been a nice old dyke on the surface but surely a case can be made against her as a nihilist–all those bodies! And that paragraph where she complains about a plumber–vile anti-working class stuff. What’s more I read on some web site that she left Texas because the Redskins got on her wick down there.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — December 29, 2007 @ 9:38 am

  96. i love how people get all pissy when someone dislikes a movie they liked. dont worry people critics love this movie. you dont have to be mad at those who didnt like it. overall it was an okay movie. too much hype

    Comment by rain — December 30, 2007 @ 8:21 am

  97. Jesus Fucking Christ, people! Louis Proyect’s expectations don’t derive from a pre-existing understanding of genre or structure: they are explicitly created by the first 90 minutes of the Coen Bros’ movie! Regardless of whatever you thought or liked before the lights went out, the off-screen climax is intentionally anticlimactic and inconsistent with the style and pace of the movie you’ve been watching up to that point. It’s a joke. And it could have been a good joke, but unfortunately they chose not to deliver it that way. Don’t know why. Probably for the same reason why the Dude never got his rug back.

    Comment by Chumbacca — January 2, 2008 @ 4:03 am

  98. I’m surprised how many people did’nt understand the ending or at least i think i understood it well enough, at the ending of the movie when the sheriff Tom is sitting down with his wife for a t the table one of the first things that gives you a clue is that she calls him Antwant (THE KILLER IN THE MOVIE), also when at the ending during their conversation he (the sheriff) begins saying something about how he saw himself when he was twenty years younger, and im not sure about this but when antwan is going to kill the cowboy or bounty hunter who tracked him down, the cowboy/bounty hunter/hitman, says to him “do you have any idea of how crazy you are”,now im not saying im right just maybe thats what the ending was suppposed todo surpise a person, by thinking he was remembering something or hes a person having delusions when he kills, idono im not sure really until i see the movie again, anyways id like to get some fedback on the ending if anyones interested. thanks.

    Comment by Carlos Ponce De Leon — January 9, 2008 @ 3:15 am

  99. sorry about spelling mistakes in a few words of my critic.

    Comment by Carlos Ponce De Leon — January 9, 2008 @ 3:30 am

  100. No Country for Old Men.

    Sheriff Bell is representative of the old men (older generation)

    The country is the United States.

    The title imples (as do a few conversations, specifically Bell and the other Sheriff and Bell and his father (?) at the end, and the atrocities of Chigurh’s character)that this country with it’s loose morals, lack of ethics, disintegrating values and astonishing acts of violence is no longer suitable to the older generation.

    I get it.

    Loved the cinematography, the sound editing, the photography, the editing, the acting. Would I have liked a more literal ending with closure? I could have lived with it. Do I like having qustions to talk about after (Did he kill the wife? Yes, he checked for blood on his boots when he left. Did he get the money? No, the Mexicans who were following the wife and Mother did. Did he kill the accountant? Yes, the question Chigurh asks him, “Did you see me?” is rehtorical. Llwellyn is caught off guard cause he gets sloppy from drinking beers with the lady. The dream is about Bell’s coming death because his generation’s time is coming to an end because the country is no longer suitable for “Old Men”.) Yes, I do.

    Did I enjoy the movie for an excellent experience in the craft of moviemaking? Yes. Was I still a little frustrated? Yes.

    Comment by Marc — January 13, 2008 @ 5:11 am

  101. Jason Cowley has a review in the London Guardian, Jan.12’08, that considers McCarthy’s books in relation to the movie that’s just opening in the U.K. This is the final paragraph: “Reading the novel is like being trapped on a runaway train: you are hurtled along in a state of helpless anxiety knowing only that the whole thing must end very badly. And in a way, it does end badly. In fact, it doesn’t so much end as crash off the tracks laid down by its own narrative momentum. McCarthy sets everything in place for a denouement involving the inevitable shoot-out between Moss and Chigurh, only to pull back. There is no shoot-out or final reckoning. Everyone is tainted, and no one redeemed. There is no explanation for the carnage. It just worked out that way.”

    Comment by Peter Byrne — January 13, 2008 @ 6:45 pm

  102. I’m all for doing something different.

    I’m a big Tarantino fan. Resevouir Dogs didn’t have a happy ending either, but at least it left me feeling better than this film.

    What I take away from the film is evil is just too good at what it does, it’s too determined, good men just aren’t nasty enough to successfully fight it.

    Sheriff Bell’s ending speech, the interpretation of his dreams, simply means, as far as I can see, “I was fighting a losing battle all along.”

    If I want to feel depressed from watching a film or reading a book that extolls just how clever and unstoppable forces of evil are, there are plenty of horror movies out there that can do that.

    “You did something depressing, but my God, you did it so ARTFULLY!” may crank some people’s motor but mine.

    Comment by Brian Cates — January 20, 2008 @ 5:56 am

  103. BTW, veteran movie critic Stephen Hunter, who’s review was quoted by Mr. Proyct, sums up quite artfully the big problem with the film that most of it’s viewers are going to have. I know I certainly did:

    ‘One argument could be made for the movie’s integrity by way of the arcane narrative theories it employs. I don’t buy it, but it could be made. It sets up a classic thriller situation, a particularly vivid hunter hunting a surprisingly capable man across a deadly landscape, used hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. It pauses time and again to emphasize the horror of the killer. By narrative convention then, the movie is building toward a confrontation between these two. We know it, we expect it, the rules of the thriller mandate its necessity. It represents the completion of the bargain the storyteller has made with us.

    “No Country for Old Men” then vigorously subverts the convention. It’s meant to be “ironic,” with that big capital I. Instead it’s unsatisfying, with a capital U. Nobody goes to the movies for the irony. They go for the satisfaction.’

    Exactly.

    Comment by Brian Cates — January 20, 2008 @ 6:14 am

  104. This ending is something like the ending of McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. There is a long period of anticlimax after the main part of the story is over. It appears that the protaganist is killed by the superhuman evil figure “the Judge” but it happens “off-camera” (in an outhouse actually) so we are never told for sure. The book ends with the Judge dancing triumphantly. On “No Country” the main part of the story ends with Moss’ departure (it appears that he is killed although we don’t get nearly as good a look at his face as at those of numerous corpses in the film, plus we don’t see his funeral even though we see his mother in law’s, a very minor character). In the anti-climax there seems to be a confrontation between Chigurh at Moss’s wife, where she is neither intimidated nor willing to participate in his coin tossing. We assume he kills her because there is no reason he would look at his shoes, but we don’t see this and are not told directly. Then Chigurh is in the senseless car wreck, is injured yet again, gets the shirt to use as a sling from one of the boys (the two boys end up fighting over the money he gives the one for the shirt) and apparently escapes despite the approaching sirens (cops haven’t caught anyone yet in this film so they are unlikely to start now.) Presumably this mean that this superhuman degree of evil remains at large in a world filled with the brutal acts of violent men. Anyway McCarthy does not (in these works anyway) write climatic confrontations with evil. Perhaps he does not believe that they do not describe what really happens.

    Comment by Stan — January 20, 2008 @ 6:23 am

  105. Bet there are a few new visitors to this page, the only sensible voice on rotten tomatoes.

    This film is as clear a case of ‘Emperors New Clothes’ I ever saw. It might be technically accomplished but as a piece of entertainment it fails absolutely – but what would you expect from a film trying to prove how ‘random’ and ‘evil’ the world can be. Perhaps Shakespeare while writing his plays should have decided every major plot development on a coin toss.. they’d be so much more profound and realistic!

    One complete donut posted above that we should ‘Find out what art is’. Well its not f***ing real life with all its random events, thats why I paid to go in to the cinema… maybe I could film ‘a day in the life of my dog’ and you can extrapolate more chaos theory from that.

    Comment by Alan — January 23, 2008 @ 12:37 am

  106. Alan. You’re only saying that the commodity you purchased didn’t vehicle a view of life that you find entertaining. That has nothing to do with the quality of the product. What does entertainment mean for you? You bring in Shakespeare. King Lear is entertaining. So is Donald Duck

    Comment by Peter Byrne — January 23, 2008 @ 10:52 am

  107. Peter, my main point was that the film abandons tried and tested narrative conventions in the interest of making some cliched point ‘well the world isn’t like that’. In doing so the entertainment factor plummets. If you are going to dispense with a traditional satisfying climax to a film you better replace it with something much more enlightening than the dribblesome speech at the end of this film.

    Comment by Alan — January 23, 2008 @ 1:02 pm

  108. I’ll have to accept your point, at least until I can see the movie, which hasn’t been released yet in the country where I live.

    Comment by Peter Byrne — January 23, 2008 @ 4:50 pm

  109. OK Peter, in the interests of manners I retract the donut aspersion! I wonder though if your view on it will be influenced by already having an idea of what to expect – you already know there’s no big climax so the disappointment of the ending will be dampenned and you can take it for what it is – an old man’s sermon.

    Comment by Alan — January 23, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

  110. It’s all about staying true to who you are. If you do that you’re home free. Moss is just living a simple, ordinary life, but by taking the money he becomes someone else. His integrity is shaken and foreshadows his fall. Bell is a cop who starts doubting the world he lives in and starts realising he is in a wrong place. Therefore he transforms into a person unable to do his job right; he destroys his own foundation and becomes someone else too.
    Chigurh, the HERO of this story is the only one who stays loyal to himself and is absolutely determined to do what he has to do to reach his goal. He doesn’t classify things in terms of good and evil, but just does what he has to do. He’s not interested in looking proper because that’s no means to his end.
    Think of the old garden of Eden and that old Tree of Life; if there’s no distinction between good and evil everything’s perfect, that is: your actions can not automatically hurt or better yourself. But as soon as you start connecting positive/negative values to your actions, you’re on a dangerous path. Moss knows he’s doing something bad and therefore it destroys him. Bell realises he is in no position to battle the modern world and hence he gives up (and will eventually go down).
    So long live ruthless Chigurh and his impeccable determination. He survives everything and people even sympathize with and help him (the youngsters in the end).
    Maybe what the Old Men are those who, after some event in their lives, never become what they used to be. Morality is a silent killer.
    All in all, the people who think the ending of this movie is wrong, not interesting, or completely against the ‘rules’ of story, are simply put on the wrong track by assuming Moss and Bell are the good guys. I’m not saying they aren’t but they sure as hell aren’t 100% (Moss becomes a thief and Bell gets vain) and that’s all it takes to contrast with Chigurh.
    I could go on and on but I think this’ll do.

    Comment by Dutch — January 28, 2008 @ 12:24 am

  111. I have to say, I came upon this review after trying to figure out if I was alone in disliking this film. And I was disgusted by the responses he’s receiving for having an opinion.

    And it’s not so irritating to me that everybody here is defending the film by saying that “people who don’t like it just don’t understand it!” I understood it. I just don’t like it. If I wanted to be vain about it, I’d quote Macbeth here. “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.” That was my opinion. I’m glad there are people that like it though. I like plenty of movies that nobody likes. And I never like to see any movie fail, which is why I like to give them an equal chance. Maybe I do want my movies with bows on them.

    Liking a movie to me isn’t essentially about understanding it. Different strokes for different folks. Nobody in the theater I was in liked the second half. I don’t need a happy ending, I understand that evil goes on and I’ve seen other films with no ending that I enjoyed. (Mainly one with Viggo Mortenson, which I won’t name so as not to spoil it for others who didn’t see it.) This didn’t even use a main character for a non-ending though.

    Tommy Lee Jones character meant nothing to me and I would’ve been just as happy if he had been shot for sitting on his lazy butt when all of this was going on and telling stupid stories about his dreams. I felt he was just as bad, if not worse than the villain. And maybe that was part of the point. But that would’ve been an ending and it would’ve kept your evil theme going.

    I guess I should have gone to see “Meet The Spartans.” Maybe that was more up the alley of a moron like myself.

    Comment by Biz — February 2, 2008 @ 12:20 am

  112. Reading the critiques was as entertaining as the movie, although I do dislike the ending.

    The notion of Chigurh as being the only character who was true to himself (Moss becomes a thief, and Bell a philosophical bum who couldn’t be bothered doing his job properly) holds up only in respect of the three male leads. There wasn’t much wrong with most of the minor characters in this respect.

    I’m still a bit puzzled by a plot element…Ok so the Mexicans kill Moss, and Chigurh finds the money in the vent, the funeral for Moss isn’t shown but his mother-in-law’s is (she looked pretty healthy and feisty to me) but…

    How did the Mexicans find the trail of Moss’s wife and her mother in Odessa and so find Moss? Chigurh eliminated the “management” types early on, so how did the Mexicans pick up the trail? They seem to appear from nowhere when Mrs Moss and her mum are arriving at the bus station.

    Comment by Jungle Jim — February 5, 2008 @ 6:30 am

  113. [...] for me to disable comments entirely. There is one exception to this, however. My November 17, 2007 highly negative review of “No Country for Old Men” has generated 113 comments so far. It is also my most accessed [...]

    Pingback by No Country for Old Men: a follow-up « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — February 6, 2008 @ 8:27 pm

  114. The movie is thoroughly repugnant in every way. It’s about a bunch of sociopaths, the worst of whom manages to get away after receiving back his ill-gotten money after killing various people. Who cares? The movie is thoroughly, completely repugnant. It made me not want to go to the movies for awhile, it was so dreadful!

    Comment by Walter Lippmann — February 6, 2008 @ 9:17 pm

  115. I agree with the reviewer. I was surprised with the ending, and thought
    “That’s it?” I don’t think a movie must have a conventional Hollywood happy
    ending to be good. But here I think the ending was just lazy or sloppy,
    or as I read in another review, unsatisfying. It was as if they had a time limit when making the movie, and when time was up simply left it incomplete.

    Comment by Eric Jones — February 9, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

  116. Fabulous post and thread. There’s been very little blog or other media discussion in Australia about this film that I’m aware of other than it receiving very favourable even rave reviews from the major movie critics.

    I completely agree with the comments made by Louis and all other contributors who slammed this horrible film. I saw it on Boxing Day with my partner in a trendy inner-city Sydney cinema. Like Walter Lippmann, we felt more than a little nauseous by the time we left the cinema and angry that we’d sat through and been subjected to such a sadistic, banal film. The audience reaction as far as one can gauge these things was negative: groans, cursing, someone demanding a refund.

    I’m mighty pleased to see that so many others felt the way we did about this nasty, depressing, nihilistic, stupid film and for exactly the same reasons.

    Comment by Brolga — February 10, 2008 @ 5:28 am

  117. This only thing interesting about this whole thread is the phrase “pretentious twat”. If only something in the entire movie had been as clever as this one insult I would have gotten my $9 worth. Funny.

    Comment by Hammond — February 14, 2008 @ 2:51 am

  118. I for one didn’t want or expect a Hollywood “good triumphs over evil” ending to this film, but I was still expecting an ending of some sort. After the whole build up it just ends very abruptly, essentially at the point Moss dies. Everything that comes after that point is just an epilogue. Why kill Moss off screen? And what was the point of the whole crash scene? I have to agree the long speeches at the end were just boring. I understood what they were saying but there wasn’t any need to spell it out in such laborious detail. I’m not that stupid.

    Good film, ultimately let down by an unsatisfactory, pretentious end. Bit of a shame really.

    Comment by Ash — February 14, 2008 @ 10:03 am

  119. Actually, what did the final speech of that crashing bore mean? I know what he meant, it’s just that it was really, well, profoundly unprofound. He said someone awoke and it wasn’t safe here it was life. Well, duh.

    Comment by Doolie — February 14, 2008 @ 10:10 am

  120. I haven’t seen the latest Coen brothers film but I would like to suggest a very fine film which never seemed to gain any traction even though it’s
    character development rang true for me.The film is called Kill Me Again starring Val Kilmer which was released in 1989.Please check it out,I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. JC

    Comment by RedBeagle — February 19, 2008 @ 1:12 am

  121. The movie takes place in 1981, “Morning in America” for those who remember, the beginning of the longest running ruling class backlash, all out class war from the top. The beginning of the political and economic revolts against the sixties, against the crisis of profitability starting in the early 70s. We had the tax revolt sweep the country, the neoliberal assaults on NYC domestically, on Chile abroad. Is it looking too deeply into this movie to place it in this context?

    The Sheriff is worn out from the irrationality of the world, the increasingly violent character of the economy. Sure, things were even more violent and irrational at other times in US history, but there was a bit of a lull, a dormancy to it, a sleepless Norman Rockwell makeover of history seemingly carried out in the postwar era, despite Korea, the cold war, McCarthy, Vietnam,… It was when the myth of the virtuous American trickled down, along with the incorporation of more working people into a “middle class”. Now I really am going on, huh. Things don’t make sense in this world anymore to the Sheriff, not like the world presented to him by his father. Knowable bounds of behavior, impermeable boundaries of geography and morality. The stripping down of economic law to its base of mercenary violence, of erasing your competition, the psychotic drive to total endless war, the fact that capital’s power is not a force to reason with, to expect mercy from, to apply moral codes to. It may from time to time allow you to gamble on your fate, but you don’t say when or how.

    Comment by oleolo — March 1, 2008 @ 4:04 am

  122. #122: The movie takes place in 1981, “Morning in America” for those who remember, the beginning of the longest running ruling class backlash, all out class war from the top. The beginning of the political and economic revolts against the sixties, against the crisis of profitability starting in the early 70s.

    But for McCarthy, things have always been shitty. They were shitty in the 1850s when the scalp hunters went into Mexico in “Blood Meridian”. But they were also shitty 200,000 years earlier when scalping was practiced in Ethiopia (noted in an epigraph to “Blood Meridian”). Philosophically, there is nothing progressive about this outlook. You can find it in Hobbes, who McCarthy clearly owes a lot to in terms of his worldview.

    Comment by louisproyect — March 1, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

  123. Things may have always been shitty according to McCarthy, but I think his point is partly that each generation thinks they’ved reached a new level of shittiness. The Sheriff’s inability to understand tthe world around him is because the myth of an ordered universe, of rules that don’t shift, is broken, and its replaced by an awareness of the tooth and claw of the economy, the merging of the legal and illegal economies, and the victory of a conscienceless force over our lives. Tough revelation to come to as an old man. You don’t have the strength to fight anymore, and you don’t even understand the stakes anymore. All you feel is the gnawing pull of rest/retirement without having completed your work.

    Maybe the author intended a conservative, even reactionary, take on the world. Disillusioned white knight, enemies of foreign (Mexican and indeterminate origin) descent bringing vice to the homeland, unremarked death of the young hero who is clearly outnumbered and outgunned. On that level, a pretty horrible movie. I just didn’t take it that way. If anything, I thought it might be a humorous mind$#@k pulled by the Coen brothers to have this old guy who is so experienced and yet still so green, blaming greenhairs, etc. Not inclined to believe for one moment that this violent force has always been thoroughly part of American society, and is not some new development. The naivete perhaps even invites additional violence. Maybe it is mocking the whole “They hate our freedom” line by making the Sheriff so clueless. Thought provoking movie from such simple storytelling. I especially like the part where the wife asks the Sheriff if his cattle story was true, and he says something that I now forget about it being real if not true, or something to that effect. A good interpretation on movies, cultural myths, and perception in general.

    Comment by oleolo — March 1, 2008 @ 11:17 pm

  124. #124: I especially like the part where the wife asks the Sheriff if his cattle story was true, and he says something that I now forget about it being real if not true, or something to that effect.

    Was that before or after Chigurh stuck the icepick up the Mexican’s nostril? That there were my favorite part, darn tootin’.

    Comment by Louis Proyect — March 2, 2008 @ 12:10 am

  125. Some of the chase was a lot like the Terminator, but its not a robot killing machine from the future you need to fear, its just a regular guy who doesn’t care if you live or die! Like Arnold!

    I liked the ending too. All the violence and insanity of capitalism, the malignancy of nation states, and every day you still just wake up with your spouse and its all out of your reach. All the buckets of blood around us and we still manage to lead ordinary lives, we can’t put that much shit into perspective, even our dreams are overwhelmed. I think the Coen brothers should direct Society of the Spectacle next.

    Comment by oleolo — March 2, 2008 @ 1:30 am

  126. #127: I think the Coen brothers should direct Society of the Spectacle next.

    And after that “Abbott and Costello meet Father Gapon”.

    Comment by Louis Proyect — March 2, 2008 @ 1:40 am

  127. Leaving aside for a moment the issue of the meaning of the film, I have to say that I found it technically dreadful. The lighting and colouring were poor and the dialogue was muffled to the extent that much of it was unintelligible (not the fault of the cinema which has an excellent sound-system). Being English but brought up on 50 years of American tv, I was surprised to find myself wishing for subtitles. Since it would appear from earlier comments that the film’s meaning lies in the dialogue, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that I missed it entirely. I don’t blame myself for that; I blame the film-makers for not caring enough about their audience.

    I am not sure whether it’s good or bad that even those who praise the film can’t agree on what actually happened:- who got the money, who killed Moss etc.. If they can’t agree on those basic facts, why should I have any more faith in their understanding of the film’s meaning? And if they say it doesn’t matter what happened to the money, then they are effectively saying that the plot is irrelevant and it’s all about “the meaning” (which brings us back to the unintelligible dialogue).

    Why the focus on trivia, e.g. Moss’s seemingly endless traipsing through the landscape in order to find a dead drug dealer under a tree, and then ignore fairly fundamental elements like an ending?

    Why bother showing Moss’s mother-in-law’s funeral? She was a badly written character whose only reason for appearing was as a plot device to tell the Mexicans where they were going. How did she die? Why do I care?

    What was the point of the Woody H character? He disappeared before he had done anything. And the ease with which he let himself be killed undermined any credibility that was supposed to attach to the character.

    I too am grateful to the original reviewer for his willingness to stick his head above the parapet. I saw the film 4 hours ago in an almost empty cinema and like everybody else I waited in vain until the end of the credits hoping for a delayed ending. This wasn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen – I don’t think any film will ever surpass Stand By Me for the “why on earth did they bother?” factor – but it’s not far behind. That’s a pity, because until Moss reached the Mexican border, the film was looking quite promising.

    Despite being a dreadful film, it is still worthy of further comment; but not at 2.45am.

    Comment by Pimlicoguy — March 6, 2008 @ 2:50 am

  128. The ‘country’ in the title isn’t a geographical location – I think the author is trying to say that, as we age, we come to realize just how random and violent the world really is (and always has been). This is an affliction of experience – hence ‘no country for old men’. That being said, I definitely think this movie was vastly overrated. Ommisions of fact, ‘jump cuts’ do not a great movie make. Great art reaches you on an emotional level, not an intellectual one, and this movie left me cold. A smart movie therefore, but not the work of genius that some have proclaimed. I also cannot understand the praise regarding technical aspects – the dialogue sound quality was horrendous! Not very professional filmmaking that.

    Comment by adam — March 10, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  129. Well, I was very intrigued when this movie hit the theaters, I even had plans on three separate occasions for myself and the wife to go see it..Unfortunately(or fortunately, for my wife,) the plans were busted each time. And so, and so on, the film gets raving reviews throughout its run in theaters, then it procures a couple golden globes and 4 oscars, the now the anticipation for me to see this movie is through the roof… Fast forward to release day on DvD, I immediately pop it in and it takes all of 2 minutes to realize its a good thing I didn’t bring my wife to see this in theaters, she rarely enjoys movies of this kind, although there are several exceptions, 2 minutes in I knew this wasn’t one of those exceptions.

    For me, the movie was stellar, although the ending left me disappointed immediately. And after browsing several comments and several regular moviegoer’s opinions, Im am definitely coming to grips with the ending although another viewing session is needed to really give me some closure..

    At first, it was the 15 loose ends leftover that caused my disappointment, although I did understand how ending it with a few lines from Ed Tom was related to the overall theme(s) of the movie. And so, after reading certain opinions that make the point that the loose ends don’t necessarily need to be tied Ive come to understand why, but I would have gladly sat through another 30-40 mins of the movie if the Coen’s chose to deviate from the book and tie the loose ends. But, obviously the coen’s really couldn’t run the majority of the film adhering to the book, and then just abandon that for a Hollywood style ending….

    Saying all that and reflecting upon the movie, there is one more huge disappointment, however, it must come on very, very subtle, but it happens near the beginning of the movie, and I think all the bickering, discussing, and debating the “controversial,” finish, and all the posts trying to get across the point that this movie has a greater deeper meaning , than the superficial cat-mouse scenario(s,) all of that sort of covers up this disappointment, its long forgotten since it occurs in the beginning of the movie. Ive not seen one post referring to it, so its either the way Ive just described, or Im seriously missing something…..

    Moss comes across a slaughtered slew of men, freshly slaughtered at that, upon investigation theres a truckload of drugs. A drug deal gone bad? Alright, I suppose. But then why on earth are the drugs still at the scene?? Someone slaughtered all these mexicans, and throughout the movie its strongly implied that it’s a drug deal gone bad, hell just being in the middle of the desert suggests the drug deal gone bad, but now Im left wondering why the murderer(s) didnt steal the drugs. There really is no point in slaughtering everyone in this situation, unless you are leaving the scene with the goods. And its made even worse when Moss treks the desert and finds another man slaughtered, yet whoever killed him left the 2 million right there with his dead body for Moss to come snatch like a scavenger, who killed this man? and since the money is left with him, why the hell was he killed to begin with?

    Comment by Luke — March 12, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

  130. That Chris Fiorentino (#35) ranks The Departed as the best movie in recent years speaks volumes about his taste, especially as it is a remake, and an inferior one at that. This is a much better Best Picture than The Departed was, and many felt the award for the latter was a make-up for Scorsese.
    As for this movie, I like surprises. Seeing Moss get killed would have been, in a way, less anticlimactic than not seeing the action at all.
    I am assuming a gunfight would have taken place. The Departed relies on surprise when DiCaprio gets shot (again, unsurprising to those subtitle-readers who saw the original), but I can’t see a sneak attack or potshot working in this movie.
    Still, Tommy Lee Jones character was a source of tedium. Yet better than Jack Nicholson’s unnecessary and silly role in the Departed, another point where the original was better (the boss was an understated fat guy).

    Comment by Wes — March 15, 2008 @ 3:30 am

  131. Right after I saw No Country for Old Men i thought about The Departed no comparison the departed was a cool one.
    What a waste of time!I Lost 2 hours of my life in watching this meaningless movie!
    How could this movie get an award , oscars for what ? There was nothing, nothing, i wouldn’t even remember this movie after a week , all these killings and the main character a psycho killer!?
    Is the audience blind? I cannot understand how someone can make reviews of this rubbish even the fact that we talk about it, one or the other way, is ridiculous because we create noise around the movie and we raise interest in the public and it ain’t worth it . I was really dissapointed i felt that it is going to be a really boring movie with the very first shots and this red neck accent all the time , who could possible stand this for two hours. The only fresh gulp was Woody Harrelson who got imideatly killed because he was going to ruin the big idea of the directors to bored us to death i stopped watching and listening to the movie at a certain point right after Tommy Lee Jones’ character started talking again , who cares about his dreams, who cares … what a waste !

    Comment by albena — March 21, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

  132. I’ve just finished watching it for the first time. Looking back, the moment they lost me was when they cut away from Tommy Lee Jones sitting on the bed in the hotel room with Anton still standing behind the door. At first I thought we were in flashback mode, and would return to the room.

    The movie was an A+ up to that point, and everything after was a D.

    It was on it’s way being better than Pulp Fiction and ended up lower than Phantom Menace.

    I found this site by googling the phrase “what the fuck is up with the ending of no country for old men”.

    Comment by Will — April 6, 2008 @ 5:44 am

  133. Let me just tell you, this is by far the biggest letdown of a movie I have ever seen. Now before I begin let me state some facts. 1. I am all for obscure characters. 2. I don’t mind plots and stories that don’t spell out every little detail. 3. I can handle endings that don’t tell you what exactly happens and tie up all the lose ends. I like to be able to think and draw my own conclusions, as long as they are within reason. With that being said, this movie plain sucks. The beginning and all the way through the 1st hour is great. There’s a great build up and introduction of the characters. I liked Chigurh a lot. I thought he was the model for a soulless assassin. He’s like a cross between a Terminator and Hannibal Lecter in a way. Smart, very precise, yet driven without any intention on stopping until his mission is over. Great character by far. He even had his trademark weapons, a high powered air gun usually used to kill cattle, and my favorite, a silenced shotgun. I even liked the fact that the movie didn’t go too far out of the way to explain things like why did the drug deal go bad? Who’s drugs were they? What is Chigurh’s past? That kind of stuff is what we leave to the imagination, A+ on that. Moss is out in the fields hunting and finds the aftermath of the deal gone bad, but as a consolation prize, he finds 2 million dollars. However, he also brings the fury of a ruthless assassin down on himself. Sound good so far? It is. That is, until about 2 hours later.

    Now, what I hated about this movie and what really blows it for me is how it builds you up and then completely pulls the rug out from under you at the end. Anyone who says this movie has a great ending is either lying or simply has poor taste. This movie will make you feel like the last 2 hours of watching it were pointless. There’s no closure what so ever. Once Moss dies, there’s really no point to watch the movie any further. And to top it off, Moss dies off screen so we don’t even know what happens to him. It’s a real let down and kind of careless on the writers part simply because whether you like it or not he’s the character the audience is gonna focus on. At least give us something where we can speculate about what happens to him. Instead, he out lives his usefulness to the plot and he is discarded, lame. Even if that is how it happens in the book, that’s just bad storytelling. Not to mention the sheriff gets there just a bit too late to do anything about it which is basically what the theme of this move is about. The sheriff is actually the main character who is becoming obsolete in this new age of crime, so f-ing what. I like Tommy Lee Jones, but seriously his character in this movie is useless, which once again plays on the theme of this movie….so what, we get it.

    Moss’ wife suffers a similar cloudy fate like he does because we see her talking to Chigurh and once again we are given one of those “think about it” scenes where she does not decide to leave her fate to chance but rather human compassion……ok great message, but what happens to her?! Same thing with her mother. Ok, she’s dead. 10 minutes ago she was alive. Not that we care what happens to the old bat, but at least show her get run over by a truck or stung by too many bees or something!! The whole scene with her funeral is not needed! This movie is filled with open ended moments like that and after a while it just gets old.

    I hate movies like this simply because they feel that they are so damn creative, they don’t need to explain things for you. NCFOM tries to nail the title of the movie into you head. Everything that this movie does is to remind you of the movies message and to hell with the rest of the story, it’s not important. For “Intellectuals Only” and if you don’t get it your not smart enough. Bull$hit. I do get it. It’s like those paintings that look like a ton of paint slapped against the wall, yet someone thinks it’s art. Yeah, well I’ve also taken dumps that I’m pretty proud of, but you don’t see me putting a frame around it. (Excuse my extreme sarcasm, I just can’t begin to fully express how much of a let down this movie is for me.) As readers or movie goers we invest time into a piece of work and we wanna see some sort of closure, whether it’s good, bad, whatever. But at the end of this movie you can’t help but want more which you’re never gonna get. And what’s there is empty, pointless, and boring. Bottom line, this movie sucks, bad. I’ll never watch it again.

    Comment by Al Landers — April 7, 2008 @ 9:46 pm

  134. Louis, don’t quit your day job.

    For those confused and frustrated with the ending I hope my comment below (published earlier in another blog) helps:

    The El Paso motel room scene possesses great ambiguity, yet we know instinctively that it has great significance, that in it lies the “key” to the film. That’s why it has spawned much speculation, some entirely wild and totally unsubstantiated elsewhere in the film, i.e., that Sheriff Bell took the money earlier, that Bell and Chigurh were working together, that Chigurh may have been chased down by ambulance drivers. Come on. If the Coen Brothers had intended any of these wild, unsubstantiated possibilities, they would be bad film makers indeed. They’re not. Outcomes must be the inexorable result of prior events and the actions of the characters must be consistent with their character as revealed earlier. What happens must result from the internal logic of the film or it is a bad film. Questions like “Could the money fit in the vent?” are interesting but entirely trivial. Is it really important whether the money was in the vent or whether Chigurh got it from there or at all? Not at all. This is not a caper movie. It’s a movie about living in a world full of unpredictable danger, a world where “you can’t see what’s coming next,” as the girl at the swimming pool tells Llewelyn right before they are both killed. As some have pointed out, Chigurh is like the living embodiment of this. He is like God or the Grim Reaper. And Sheriff Bell goes back to the room that night for only one reason–to confront Chigurh. He suspects he’s there because right before that scene the local lawman reminds him that Chigurh has gone back to the scene of the crime before.

    What is important to ask is what makes Tommy Lee Jones so despairing at the end? What makes him quit sheriffing? What makes him visit his uncle who he hasn’t seen in a long time and question him about what he would do if he encountered the man who shot him and talk of his disappointment in not finding God? What makes him dream of death at the end? Sheriff Bell has undergone an enormous emotional/spiritual change. He can no longer go on. What caused this?

    There are too possible theories. For the sake of my argument, assume that Chigurh is in the room when Sheriff Bell enters. The Coen brothers have gone to great pains to show us he’s in there and that he didn’t exit from the window. Chigurh hides under the bed or in the closet but doesn’t emerge while Bell is there. Sheriff Bell leaves and the change that comes over him is merely because he finally has grown weary of the country that has become no place for old men, a world he no longer understands and no longer wants to be part of. We know that Chigurh is in the room hiding and he is lucky that he didn’t kill him, but Sheriff Bell doesn’t know that. It is a tense scene but otherwise hasn’t much significance. It is a scene where something big almost happens but doesn’t.

    But I think there is more depth there. I think the coin we see at the end of the scene is a clue. The camera stays on the coin for a long time–three seconds–before the scene ends. Why is it there? It’s not there to show us Chigurh had been there. We and Sheriff Bell already know he was there because the lock was blown out by his bolt gun. We but not Sheriff Bell know he is still there because we saw him in two separate shots and we know the window is locked. What if the coin is there to remind us of the God-like choice he foisted on the store clerk earlier in the film and does later on to Carla Jean? Think about Chigurh’s character. When elsewhere in the movie has Chigurh hid from anyone? Why should he suddenly do so here? He’s God, the Grim Reaper. He has no fear. It doesn’t make sense.

    The interpretation that works best for me, that answers all the questions I’ve asked above is that after Sheriff Bell holsters his pistol and sits on the bed, Chigurh emerges from the closet or from under the bed and has the drop on him. Like he has done before and will do again, Chigurh makes Bell call the coin toss. He is lucky and Chigurh lets him go. But he is shaken by his so close encounter with sure death and feels weak and helpless. He also feels ashamed because of his cowardice in submitting to Chigurh’s test. (Only Carla Jean shows the courage to defy him and refuse to play his game.) That’s why he no longer feels up to the job and quits. That’s why he feels “overmatched.” That’s why he tells his uncle he thinks God has a low opinion of him. That’s why he asks him what he would do if he encountered the guy who shot and paralyzed him. That’s why he dreams of death at the end.

    Comment by JohnH — April 16, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

  135. John, that is a very good theory, and I probably agree with it.

    However I must agree with the original author- I hated the enidng. When moss got shot, I lost whatever waning interest I had left.
    It was all a bit unrealistic for me; this serial killer just strolls away form the car crash through sburbia. Why si he not the most wanted man in Texas? Why si tehre a senile old sherrif after him, and no one else!?!?
    This movie just annoyed me really, as I felt after the first half it was going to be a classic.

    Comment by James — April 24, 2008 @ 9:27 am

  136. Why did the anonymous drug dealer who killed all of the men in the desert LEAVE the money under the tree and not take it? Is this explained in the book?

    Comment by jpf — April 30, 2008 @ 2:38 am

  137. [...] November, when I trashed “No Country For Old Men“, a Coen brothers movie based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, I wrote the following about another [...]

    Pingback by John Gregory Burke and the Apaches « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — May 3, 2008 @ 12:00 am

  138. Vietnam vetrans were wars criminal even some of victims are now living either disabilities or surffering from deplated Uranium. You have nothing to proud of, you are criminals in which you bribes the families of victims people that you murdered millions and victims so that their families to keep quit with samell bribe you gave them.

    Comment by David — June 23, 2008 @ 3:26 am

  139. Wow… I can’t believe you all got so rabid about a desenting opinion… it was a bad movie in spite of it beauty. My wife and I have a name for these kind of movies… we call them “Bravo Channel” movies (for those old enough to remember the Bravo Channel). They were the movies you watched between 1 and 3a.m. on a work night because you were sucked into it, and when it was over, you wondered why you watched it. It’s like the Mona Lisa with Dumbo ears… sure 90% of the portrait would be beautiful, but overall, it wouldn’t be worth the trip to the gallery.

    Comment by Cabe — August 14, 2008 @ 6:37 am

  140. I share the same opinion as the author of this review. I have not read the book, nor do I think that reading the book should be a prerequisite to watching the film.

    I could kind of see what the film tried to achieve, however the film tried too hard to spoon feed the blatant symbolism and irony etc without any kind of structure or plot.

    Just as I began to gain interest in the film and develop some empathy for the main character…he was killed off for no apparent reason. I completely lost interest after this and the ending, although utter crap, came as relief that the movie was over.

    Despite what a lot of you people are saying. a film such as this must follow some basic rules in order to work, you cannot call a film a master piece just because it is different.

    Comment by rob — August 24, 2008 @ 5:51 pm

  141. while i mostly agree with your critique of the movie and i’m glad not everyone is heaping hyperbole onto it, i followed the link to cormac mc carthy’s website and i see a book titled “cormac mc carthy and the myth of american exceptionalism” which apparently is about mc carthy’s critique of american exceptionalism. that dooesn’t exactly jibe with the image you paint of him as a redneck conservative.
    and i’m not from texas but i do live in austin and if you’re gonna say stuff like “it’s hard to take people from texas seriously”, well…what can i say. it’s not all gun-slinging, liberal-hating, bible-thumping bigots down here. talk about stereotypes…

    Comment by phil the tremolo king — September 2, 2008 @ 2:42 pm

  142. often i go to rottentomatoes.com to see what the critics think of a movie…

    well i just watched ‘no country for old men’ and i don’t see how/ why it was given a 94% approval…

    too many loose plot ends… not satisfying the viewer’s need for ‘finalty’…. (at least ‘this’ viewers’s need….)

    i give the movie a 7 out of 10….

    Comment by frank — September 15, 2008 @ 6:12 am

  143. [...] is the latest from the Coen brothers. I was all set to hate this after enduring “No Country for Old Men” but was pleasantly surprised. This is a satire on the CIA that features John Malkovich as a [...]

    Pingback by 2008 movies–a consumer’s guide « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — December 31, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  144. I just saw the movie, and I’m now wishing I’d read the book instead.

    There are things a book can do that a movie just cannot and should not. I’ve read plenty of books with endings that, as some have condescendingly pointed out, don’t get tied up in neat little bows. In a novel, I can deal with that. In this film, I’ve actually seen the representation of Llewelyn Moss and have gotten an emotional investment in his character, and it was a huge letdown to see him killed off almost as an afterthought. A motion picture is a really bad place to pull off this kind of thing, and I think that’s why this forum seems to be Hollywood fans vs. Hollywood philosophers.

    And I also get the arguments about randomness in our lives, although anyone who’s had a friend or loved one die unexpectedly will not need a movie to point that out, and if you haven’t, you’ll likely know it intuitively. Bringing quantum physics into this (as someone early on did) is silly–quantum physics is about a wide range of probabilities and has little to do with Chigurh and his 50/50 coin-flip odds shown here.

    That’s just my opinionated two cents. The movie was really well done and had me on the edge of my seat! Again, I just wish I’d read the book first.

    Comment by Stig Blixt — January 4, 2009 @ 4:01 am

  145. I just spent the last 1.5 hours reading all these reviews and I’m just amazed the busiest activity of responses were over political views and spelling errors, of all things, instead of the movie itself.
    I am glad there is still even some small discussion over this movie here going on; the last entry was only a couple of days ago, when the initial review was in late 2007
    So while I use my imagination to sit my fat 300pound butt over the face of a Mr. Peter Byrne who hasn’t even watched the movie at the time of his comments which selfishly filled up this column and wasted my time as much as this damn movie did, I just want put in my comments for the sake of some personal cathartic release:
    –> I saw this on dvd at home last weekend. I went into this movie with no knowledge of it except that has Tommy Lee Jones and it got good reviews. This is the same way I watched Reservoir Dogs so many years ago. However, this damn movie in no way compares to Reservoir Dogs. When I finished and immediately rewatched Reservoir Dogs, it was to study more closely what led to the ending and appreciate the excellent storytelling. With this damned movie “No Country…”, I went back looking to make sure my disk wasn’t screwed up or that my player hadn’t skipped a chapter or two (maybe I sat on the remote…).
    –> If I had seen this movie in the theature, my quite vocal and auditable “What the Hell!”, I am sure, would have joined a few other reflexive outbursts. I would have felt some relief that I wasnt alone with feeling cheated out of my money and my time. Since I watched this damned movie at home, I was denied any immediate relief. As soon as I finished, I immediately hopped over to the computer to look more closely at the reviews. As someone above already pointed out, what was decidely depressing was that it wasnt EASY to find a negative review. I had to actually spell it out to google “Negative Reviews for No country…” and even then the first couple of hits were from the people who actually liked this movie but making negative comments about people like me who hated the movie. I despaired until I came across this Louis Proyect review, and I found my outlet, for better or worse, selfish or not. One of the things I was looking for on the web was the immediate end-credit reaction of people in the theaters. Thanks to those of you who mentioned it here.
    –>Quite a few other people above were of the same mind as my own and virtually echoed everything I wanted to write. This movie IS like staring at the Mono Lisa or any other piece of art for an hour or so. It grabbed my attention, had all the trappings of a good movie, had me at the edge of my seat, suckered me in for the first 2/3rds. Then Josh Brolin’s chacter is apparently killed off and I spend the rest of the movie wondering if my dvd is messed up. The problem here is I came into this to see a movie, not a painting, and I am pretty open over what I consider to be a called a movie. This “No Country…” wasn’t a movie. It suckered me in, cheated me of my time (and a little money)and left me feeling robbed. With other bad movies, at least I have that feeling of it from the get-go and I CHOOSE to continue watching it. But this one was clever piece of work that faked it’s way to the end. For that reason, this is one of the very few movies I despise and unfortunately, I will not trust the Coen guys for a long while. Any of their future work I will wait for complete reviews even at the risk of catching wind of the story.
    –>Also as someone already pointed out, the movie really starts getting screwy when the Woody Harrelson character gets caught. Originally I was given the feeling that he would be the answer for the Javier guy, or be a spring board for Josh Brolin’s chacter to eventually overcome the assassin threat, but instead they toss Woody over the side like a crumbled piece of paper. That was the beginning of the “end” of this damned movie. And I say “end”, because this movie doesnt have an end, just a point in time when I walked away from it. At the time, however, no movie is perfect and I figured that the Woody character was just a bit of bad writing, so I was still attached to the story, especially after the first confrontation between Josh and Javier. It wasnt until the killing of Josh’s character(and it wasnt even clear that he was killed, as the funeral for the mother was a delibrate way to throw the viewer off)that I started to lose it (and wonder about the condition of the disk.)
    –>Note that I refer to this damned movie as “No Country . . . ” Dot dot dot That by itself is an accurate statement of movie. No Ending.
    –>One last thing on the positive side, I lived in Texas for 20+ years, so the dialog wasn’t difficult for me, but I can fully understand people outside the US having trouble with it. Hell, I have trouble with Mad Max (the first one), Snatch, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, etc- great movies, all. That slice of Texas culture was a bit exaggerated, but pretty close, all the same.

    –I want to thank this site and Louis for being one of the few to give this movie a real review, and gave me a chance to point out what a deceptive piece of shit this movie turned out to be. I needed this release, though I am sure some will feel I am being selfish, but I dont think I am being any more selfish wasting people’s time than this Peter Byrne dud.

    I bought this dvd, instead of seeing it in the theater, so I have to pleasure of thinking up something creative to do to the damned disk.
    -ET

    Comment by ET — January 6, 2009 @ 2:39 pm

  146. Oops, to clarify, when I talked about Mad Max ( Snatch, and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, it was the dialog in the movies that were a bit difficult for me, being as I am from US, but it’s no problem when you have subtitles. The movies were great, make no mistake there.

    Comment by ET — January 6, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  147. I disagree with you, and next time you talk disparagingly about Cormac McCarthy I hope you do a great deal of unbiased research beforehand.

    Comment by Dr. Strangelove — January 10, 2009 @ 4:20 am

  148. You really have no clue what the film was about. McCarthy is as far from a nihilist as you can possibly get. What I really liked about the film is that it skewers Promethean thought so beautifully. Gives atheism a truly generous amount of hell, too.

    Comment by Gunner Sykes — February 16, 2009 @ 7:02 am

  149. Absolutely the worst film ending of all time. It was alla dream. What the????????? There was no ending. Anyone who liked this film doesn’t understand that a story needs an ending. There is no ending!

    Comment by Dr Ralph — April 8, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  150. Agree with DrRalph. There was no ending. Those people who enjoyed the movie need to get out more! How could this possibly win awards? Obviously the people who hand out the awards have no idea of quality. They must just look for things that make no sense and when they see it they must think ‘brilliant’. I think CRAP!

    Comment by He — April 8, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

  151. How bad was the ending! I want that 100 minutes of my life back. I can’t believe people could like this movie.

    -500/10.

    Comment by God help me I just lost 100 minutes of my life! — April 8, 2009 @ 12:52 pm

  152. there is an ending. the ending is that it doesnt end

    Comment by apocalypse dude — August 8, 2009 @ 5:40 am

  153. when the movie starts the story has already been going on, so it doesn’t start at the “beginning” either.

    Comment by apocalypse dude — August 8, 2009 @ 5:42 am

  154. At one point, Bell tells a colleague that everything started going downhill when young people began to dye their hair green and put spikes through their noses.

    I’m pretty sure Bell doesn’t say this; it’s the other guy who says it to Bell.

    Comment by Nemo — September 6, 2009 @ 3:48 pm

  155. So you just devoted far more time to saying why you “didn’t like” a movie than it took you to watch it.

    Your point is, “why doesn’t the world always agree with me!” So you’re in the minority from time to time; does that mean you’re *wrong*… or just the far-more-perceptive iconoclast?

    Consider the possibility you may in fact be wrong from time to time. Yes, the movie’s ending is unsatisfying; read the book. It’s the same. It’s not supposed to be satisfying. You want one flavor of ice cream? Fine. Watch Cable. Avoid Cassavettes.

    p.s. Blood Meridian has a ‘movie’-style ending. I doubt you will read the book. If you do open it up, the first 2-3 pages will make you want to come take this entire post off the internet out of embarrassment.

    Comment by Gilmore — November 15, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  156. For a guy who is supposed to be able to “subdue” the Bardem character for his employer, the Harrelson character appears inept. After all, why would he walk around unarmed…particularly knowing how clever, violent, merciless (and apparently “insane”) the Bardem character is. On top of that, if the Harrelson character is a retired army colonel, whey would he even be engaged in the line of work “suggested” in the film?

    Comment by OKJackGroup — July 5, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

  157. [...] and supposedly researched thoroughly by McCarthy. This was what I had to say about the novel in my review of “No Country for Old [...]

    Pingback by The political economy of Comanche horse-stealing raids « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — February 2, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

  158. […] In November 2007, after seeing the Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men”, I was left deeply unsatisfied by the movie’s ending. When I learned that it followed the plot of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, I decided to look further into his work, especially “Blood Meridian”, a work that some of his boosters in the academy compare to Melville. I wrote: […]

    Pingback by The Political Economy of Comanche Violence | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — August 29, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

  159. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?”

    Your first problem is that you keep conflating Cormac McCarthy with the Coen Brothers. The book and film are different discussions.

    “[Ed Tom's] main purpose is to serve as an outlet for McCarthy’s cracker-barrel philosophy–a mixture of Reagan-era conservatism and nihilism. At one point, Bell tells a colleague that everything started going downhill when young people began to dye their hair green and put spikes through their noses.”

    You completely and utterly miss the point here. Bell’s comments (and comments about society going to crap after people stopped saying “sir” and “ma’am”, etc.) are not the actual philosophy of the film. Those comments are undermined by Ellis in his talk with Bell towards the end of the film.

    I can go into more depth if you care, but I’m sure you’re going to stick with your erroneous initial reading of the film no matter what anybody says.

    Comment by J.P. McDevitt — September 10, 2013 @ 8:27 pm


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