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No Country for Old Men(2007)
Llewelyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a sentry of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back trunk. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law—namely aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell—can contain. Moss tries to evade his pursuers, in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives.
For more about No Country for Old Men and the No Country for Old Men Blu-ray release, see No Country for Old Men Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 15, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Cormac McCarthy
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Garret Dillahunt
» See full cast & crew
No Country for Old Men Blu-ray Review
Joel and Ethan Coen's Oscar-winning masterpiece comes alive on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 15, 2009
This country's hard on people. You can't stop what's comin.' It ain't all waitin' on you...that's vanity.
While they may not break the bank with their new releases, the Writer/Director tandem of Joel and Ethan Coen may very well be the best working in the business today. Their films reflect cinema at its most basic yet, in a deeper sense, at its most involved. Many of their films tell simple stories that revolve around complex characters, be they Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo, Barton Fink in the film of the same name, or Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in No Country For Old Men. The latter film may represent their best work yet, earning that distinction across a broad spectrum of cinematic bullet points. Winner of the 2008 Academy Award for Best Picture and also taking home trophies for Best Director, Joel and Ethan Coen; Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Javier Bardem; and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, also to Joel and Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men tells a riveting tale of three men in their pursuit of a singular material object but also, and less immediately obvious, engaged in deep character reflection, each emitting vastly different methodologies in how they conduct their business and personal lives, the result a showcase of humanity at both its best and worst. No Country For Old Men crams enough material, particularly with regards to its character studies, to fill an entire graduate-level film critique or Sociology syllabi, the film providing a continuous revelation of new plot points, character personalities and motivations, and deeply-rooted psychological undertones with every viewing.
A lone hunter named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin, Planet Terror) discovers the scene of a deadly drug deal gone terribly wrong. Five bullet-riddled trucks, several bloody corpses, plenty of small arms, and hundreds of shell casings underfoot paint the picture of the scene. Leaving a stash of drugs and a badly-wounded survivor behind but taking with him a Heckler & Koch submachine gun, Moss goes in search of "el último hombre," "the last man standing," and finds him dead against a tree some distance away, guarding with his now-dead body a black satchel full of cash. Taking the cash and a Colt 1911 handgun from the corpse, Moss returns home to his wife, Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald, In the Electric Mist), but later that night returns to the scene of the crime. This time, he is met by several men come to collect the money and drugs, and finds himself on the run when his truck is disabled. Escaping, Moss sends his wife to stay with her mother and goes on the run from a crazed man named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, Vicky Christina Barcelona) who, without remorse, murders in cold blood most anyone who interferes with his business, in this case the collection of the satchel full of cash -- no matter the time or effort involved. As the two men become engaged in a bloody and bullet-ridden chase across south Texas, they are both pursued by a small-town lawman named Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive), a man in search of reason behind the madness that plagues his profession, his life, and his world.
From a purely technical perspective, No Country For Old Men represents classic filmmaking through its "less is more" approach. Each shot represents not a frame but rather a work of art; each one appears composed with attention to period, artistic, and cinematic detail rarely found in cinema, either that of today or of yore. The film recreates 1980 Texas with startling clarity, from the barren, dust- and weed-filled plains to the small-town charm where the local Western wear shop, pharmacy, and motel recall a place and time that is, much like the plot of the film, simple in its appearance but, due to the actions of the characters, rattled to the core. No Country For Old Men takes on a feel that exudes realism, so much so that it often seems to play out as a Documentary. Rarely does the film enjoy the presence of music, and sometimes even extends for long periods of time without dialogue. Instead, the story is told with a glance, a gaze, or a prolonged mental evaluation of person, place, or thing. No Country For Old Men is a visual film for sure, and it's methodical approach -- an approach that defies the very essence of modern cinema -- sets it apart from its peers. As such, the movie effortlessly transports audiences to the scene of a violent drug deal gone bad; to the edge of a bed in a hotel room where a character, shotgun at the ready, awaits the arrival of a stoic, single-minded killer; or to the self-tending of a gunshot wound in a motel room tub. In this way, No Country For Old Men represents one of the most horrific films in memory, for its depiction of a man on the run, a singleminded and remorseless killer, and a small-town sheriff on the case and in search of answers both privately and professionally, capture the violence, the terror, and the primal instincts of mankind across three varied professions and personalities like no other film before it.
No Country For Old Men features a trio of characters that prove to be among the most complex, interesting, and memorable in all of cinema. Josh Brolin's Llewelyn Moss represents a man far wiser and capable than his humble means might immediately suggest. A veteran of two tours in Vietnam, Moss instantly transforms from a simple husband, welder, and trailer-dweller on a solo hunting trip to a man with a keen sense of direction, an instinctual ability to handle a broad array of firearms, a rudimentary but effective technological know-how, a sixth sense of pending danger, a well-above-average understanding of his surroundings and fine details, and formidable survival skills when a single satchel changes his life forever. Of the three personalities in the film, Moss' reflects that of a survivor, a man with the ability to keep his basic human nature in check but sometimes allowing it to get the best of him, occasionally against his better judgment and sometimes to his benefit. He reacts to his environment to suit his needs, be it his inquisitiveness, greed, sense of humanity, or very survival. Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh, clearly, represents the emotionless, stoic hunter, killing out of some sort of deep-rooted psychological necessity that seems both as natural and essential to his life as oxygen or water. He hunts and kills not only those who interfere with his business but those who question his peculiar ways or hinder the facilitation of his current objective. Finally, there is the reflective Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones. In pursuit of both the hunter and the hunted, Bell throughout the film recalls his family's involvement in law enforcement while lamenting his perception of the increase in hostilities, despite a family history of injury and death in the line of duty.
These great characters are vividly depicted by a trio of actors not only at the top of their respective games -- but delivering performances that rival the very best cinema has ever seen. Arguably no other film in cinema history has enjoyed three performances of such high caliber as to each be deserving of Best Actor Oscars. Though Bardem earned the sole nomination (and win), both Jones and Brolin deliver performances that exude not only professionalism but, more importantly, realism. Tommy Lee Jones is the best of the bunch, if one were forced to choose among the three. His narration at the beginning of the film -- reflecting a drawn-out, laid-back, Texas-style soliloquy, but delivered with a hint of deep remorse -- positively mesmerizes in its tone and serves as a wonderful introduction to the film. He plays his character without even a trace of "acting," becoming a longtime Texas lawman with a keen eye and an uncanny ability to piece together a complex puzzle by examining the subtlest of clues. His character, though generally not directly involved in the primary action of the film, serves as its heart and soul, an outsider of sorts, much like the audience, analyzing the film's pair of central characters that battle one another for possession of the world's oldest object of strife -- money. As the hunter and the hunted, Bardem and Brolin deliver fascinating performances that show each man to be opposing one another -- but driven by the same basic human instincts that, at times, showcase man at his best but, generally, at his worst.
No Country for Old Men Blu-ray, Video Quality
No Country For Old Men comes to Blu-ray with a remarkable 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. Achieving the same level of excellence as the transfer seen on the previous release, the transfer remains one of, if not the, finest visual experiences yet on Blu-ray. The sprawling Texas vistas sparkle in high definition. The dust, gravel, and weeds all come out both in the foreground and in the background with an incredible level of clarity and detail. Every speck of dust, pebble, and leaf appears with the utmost in visible detail and texture, creating an almost tactile experience where viewers almost feel that they are in the midst of the dusty, barren locales seen at the beginning of the film. Other objects that more often appear closer to the screen -- faces and clothing, for instance -- also manage to reveal every nuance that one might expect to be visible to the naked eye if the audience were viewing the action not on the screen but rather in person. Darkened interior and nighttime scenes, too, dazzle, offering perfectly inky and deep blacks with no visible loss of detail in objects. Whether lit by the moon or by dim streetlights, few, if any, discs boast such remarkably true-to-life dark sequences. Colors and flesh tones seem just a bit warm, but appear to be in-line with the intended look of the film. A layer of film grain covers the image, lending to it a wonderful theatrical appearance, the transfer the very definition of "home theater." No Country For Old Men remains atop the pile of quality Blu-ray transfers.
No Country for Old Men Blu-ray, Audio Quality
This Blu-ray release of No Country For Old Men features a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack, unlike its predecessor which offered a PCM 5.1 uncompressed mix. Both mixes are equally superb. The soundtrack creates a seamless, lifelike environment, the film's many quiet sequences punctuated by a subtle environmental atmosphere that brings every scene to vivid sonic life. Wind blows subtly but noticeably around the soundstage; thunder rolls across the Texas plains with a noticeable heft and presence; cars maneuver to and fro, some quickly, some at a slower pace. The track also intensifies when need be. An airplane flies overhead to wonderfully loud and realistic effect. Gunshots feature precision bangs as the firing pin strikes the primer, and the bullets zip around the listening area and impact dirt, metal, or flesh with pinpoint accuracy. The entire audible spectrum is delivered crisply, and the track makes fine use of every speaker in the 5.1 setup, including the subwoofer, which stretches its legs on several occasions. Dialogue reproduction plays strongly throughout, with the each character's distinct vocal traits playing wonderfully through the center channel. Though featuring but a few moments of aggressive action, this soundtrack recreates the film's quiet, contemplative, and dialogue- and atmosphere-heavy sound design wonderfully, recreating each and every nuance with startling accuracy.
No Country for Old Men Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
No Country For Old Men makes for a stellar Blu-ray presentation, but the package falls just a bit short when it comes to the spectrum of bonus materials included with this two-disc re-release. It features the same supplements as found on the original release, adding only two additional features and a digital copy on a second disc. As to the recycled features, the first is The Making of 'No Country For Old Men' (480p, 24:29). Cast and crew discuss the film, including its themes, its origins from the Cormac McCarthy novel, Texas, the character motivations, the weapons as seen in the film, and more. Working With the Coens (480p, 8:07) features cast and crew discussing the experience of working with the famed tandem. Diary of a Country Sheriff (480p, 6:44) examines the intricacies of the characters and the environment in which they interact.
New features on this release include Josh Brolin's Unauthorized Behind-the-Scenes (480p, 9:19), a piece featuring additional cast and crew interview snippets and behind-the-scenes footage. Rounding out disc one is Press Timeline, the meat-and-potatoes of the supplemental package. Included are a series of 16 publicity-related materials presented in 480p standard definition, including Lunch With David Poland (26:30), L.A. WGAW Q&A Panel (24:13), Variety Q&A (3:08), EW.com Just a Minute (12:55), Creative Screenwriting Magazine (21:25, audio only), NPR's All Things Considered (4:44, audio only), ABC Popcorn With Peter Travers (14:51), In-Store Appearance (40:31), Charlie Rose (22:33), WNBC Reel Talk With Lyons & Bailes (10:02), Channel 4 News (3:45), KCRW The Treatment (28:30, audio only), NPR's Day to Day (6:37, audio only), Spike Jonez Q&A (1:00:47), NPR's All Things Considered (7:49, audio only), and NPR's Weekend Edition (5:32, audio only).
Disc two of this set contains a digital copy of No Country For Old Men. Replayed on a second generation iPod Touch, the video presents the usual problems of banding and blocking, particularly in the blacks, but color reproduction and detail appear as good as any digital copy yet reviewed. The audio presentation is fairly robust considering the small two-channel source; sound flows between the two channels, offers a fair amount of clarity, decent definition, and clear dialogue reproduction.
No Country for Old Men Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
No Country For Old Men might just be the best movie of the decade. No single aspect of the film is less than extraordinary, each encompassing what top-notch filmmaking is all about. Whether the Oscar-caliber acting from the three primaries, the mesmerizing direction of Joel and Ethan Coen, the Texas locations, the period setting and Texas-themed costumes, the fantastic dialogue, the reserved use of music, or the well-staged action, the film comes together like few before it to create a singular achievement in moviemaking that ascends to a level of excellence rarely seen before in cinema. Deserving of far more than the four Oscar wins awarded to it, No Country For Old Men represents the pinnacle of cinema. Disney's second Blu-ray release of this incredible film doesn't disappoint. While the disc could enjoy more in the way of extras, this release offers a few new supplements over the original disc. Of course, the package is highlighted by a 1080p video transfer that is second-to-none and a lossless soundtrack that recreates the film's subtly effective sound design wonderfully. Either Blu-ray release of No Country For Old Men earns my highest recommendation.
No Country for Old Men: Other Editions
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No Country for Old Men Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - April 7th - April 7, 2009
When making a film about a controversial subject, it is often difficult to represent the subject matter in a way that will appeal to general audiences. Tread too lightly on the subject, and the message can be lost or misunderstood; tread too heavy, and the message ...
• No Country for Old Men Sees Re-Release - January 27, 2009
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will re-release the Oscar-award winning film 'No Country for Old Men' for Blu-ray on April 7th as a two-disc collector's edition, day-and-date with the DVD re-release. This release will presumably feature ...
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