Saturday, November 24, 2007
Movie Reviews: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN & THE MIST
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across a pickup truck surrounded by several corpses and filled with heroin and two million dollars in cash, which he promptly takes off with. However, attempting to retrieve the stolen booty are the proper owners of the drugs and money, who are none too pleased, including a psychotic killer (Javier Bardem) who judges people's lives with the flip of a coin.
Cast Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Kelly MacDonald, Woody Harrelson, Stephen Root (more)
Director(s) Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Writer(s) Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date Nov. 9, 2007
Running Time 122 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for strong graphic violence and some language
No Country for Old Men is an unconventional yet entirely gripping crime drama from the Coen Brothers who may have just given us their best film to date. The Coen brother's film has a quiet and unsettling nobility throughout. Beautifully shot this film is filled with wonderfully quiet shots of foreboding open landscapes and the after effects of violence, this film grips you without you being aware of it. Perfectly paced, the film's bloody tale unfurls in an extremely organic manner, never feeling forced. The cast with their spot on Texas drawls breathe life into each of their characters. Javier Bardem performance is truly spectacular. From the moment he appears on screen, Bardem's psychopath is like a paigeboy purveyor of death. His character is like evil incarnate and those unlucky enough to cross his path rarely live to tell the tale. Josh Brolin also turns in a solid performance, giving his character a sense of measured determination. While Bardem will get most of the attention, Tommy Lee Jones turns in a top notch performance. He gives his character a perfect sense of being world worn. His face appears to carry the weight of the world on it, a true good guy trying to stop the flood of evil. As these characters plots play out this films genius is that it doesn't go where you'd expect it, a welcomed breathe of fresh air especially as these types of films tend to pander to the audience. No Country for Old Men doesn't succumb to these pitfalls, instead the Coen's make a more powerful statement with their ending that just fits so perfectly for this avant-garde piece of film making.
In this adaptation of the Stephen King novella, shoppers are trapped in a
supermarket after it is enveloped in a strange mist filled with monstrous creatures. David Drayton (Thomas Jane) is just an unassuming artist, but when the terror hits, he rallies the other customers to defend themselves against the horrible beasts. Will these small-town folks be able to survive the assault and find out where that creepy mist came from anyway? Is it from the nearby military base?
Cast Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones
Writer(s) Frank Darabont
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date Nov. 21, 2007
Running Time 127 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for violence, terror and gore, and language
The Mist is just another example of how Frank Darabont is the director best suited for adapting Steven King's many works. Much like The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, Darabont seems to really understand how to translate King's sometime corny characters into real living beings. Here Darabont again bring a wonderful sense of characterization to the story. While the characters could have become been very clichéd, some still are, they have much more depth than they would have in the hands of another director. Right from the get go we are submerged into the scenario and Darabont's decision to go with the shaky cam technique really works well here. Thomas Jane delivers his best work since the criminally overlooked Stander. Jane gives his character a real sense of realism. His tension fears and strengths feel authentic missing most of that Hollywood embellishment. Toby Jones also does some fine work here as the store's assistant manger. Jones portrayal gives us an everyman much like Jane's character but in a different form. Marcia Gay Harden also delivers a wonderful performance as the insane religious zealot. Her firebrand is more of a villain than the monsters in the mist. Much of this movies success comes directly from the character interaction and watching how humanity plays out in the most extreme of situations. Here is where this film becomes so much more than just another horror movie. Darabont provides some gory set pieces but the real meat of the story is conveyed via conversations. It's more of a talkie than a scare factory. The Mist is much more heady than most horror fare and it's themes are thought provoking and really gives the audience something to chew on besides just plain scares. If this movie has a fault it's mainly that the special effects are fairly unconvincing and look cheaply made. They work best when they are hidden in the actual mist but when they are shown in plain light, it just doesn't work. Small complaints aside Frank Darabont has really created an excellent film with one soul crushing end that more frightening than any monsters.