No Country for Old Men Coen Brothers review

This is just the second Coen brothers film I’ve seen (the first was The Big Lebowski which is hilarious).
‘No Country’ is much more violent, though interestingly, like the Big Lebowski, starts and (kind of) ends with a voice-over from an old-timer reflecting on how things have changed. No Country seems firmly set in Texas, with some impresive vistas
early on in the film. I found its topic puzzling as there are clearly strong themes; violence, hunting, Texas culture
weapons, principles, changing times, buying shirts to cover up wounds and random acts, but random acts kept
decentring the narrative as the characters we assume are the main people exit from the film in unexpected
and kind of undeserved ways, often without us even seeing the act of violence that effects their exit. The film
seems to have a number of centres of gravity. One is the psychopathic killer played by Javier Bardem. He is like a
1960s ethnomethodologist in his refusal to tolerate and participate in casual idiomatic conversation. He goes to
the heart of things, in many senses. Scarey certainly, but almost likable by the end. One review of this film
claims that its concern is with ‘bad luck’ that organises the plot as well as the number of narratives that
we hear recounted within the film, including the brief story of the cattleman who aimed a shot at a steer in order
to slaughter it as it hung upside down in the slaughterhouse. The shot missed the animal’s brain and bounced off
two walls before landing in the cowboy’s left shoulder. As the film draws to a close, we get closer to the jaded
and eventually retired cop who reflects on violence and ponders whether life – or maybe Texas life – has always
been unpredictable and violent. In the very last frame he is telling about his dream of his dead father who is
calling him. Finally, there is a huge amount of blood in this film.

The Kite Runner

Hmmm. Here’s a strongly plot and issue driven movie that I know has proved very popular. The story is complex and the film does this justice, the dishonesty and ambiguity and shame of Amir’s father has an effect down through the generations that is, we see, finally overcome with the grown up Amir’s revelation to his overbearing father-in-law at the dinner table back in the US near the end of the film. The location scenes are impressive as is some of the acting though I found the children’s lines stilted and not quite fitting their chronological age (it reminded me of that car ads where children are given conversation you would expect their fathers to have). However, the children were played in a very sympathetic way. Its insight into the Taliban convinced me that, probably like all extreme groups, it relied, on the ground, on the participation of bullies and people of sadistic disposition, rather than idealists burning for their cause. There’s a little more at

4 months 3 weeks 2 days or whatever

Not quite as harrowing as a Michael Haneke film but an uncomprmising view of two women, well of one woman mainly, and the night of an abortion for one of them. If we thought the East Germany of The Lives of Others was grim, pre-revolution Romania was worse, certainly poorer with, apparently, endemic grumpiness and nosiness. Men come off pretty badly, so do the middle class family we witness having a birthday meal with a clamped down camera at table level, reminding me of Haneke. The main woman Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) lives a kind of sensitivity and integrity that no-one else in the film seems to, even her friend who has the abortion. Toilets and bathrooms are particularly grim in this film. Apparently the screenplay is based on a true story that the director had heard and was deeply affected by. The film ends rather suddenly.