No Country for Old Men

I’m watching this right now. I picked it up for $8 at Best Buy today on blu-ray. There is a scene where Llewellyn (sp?) buys a shotgun and then proceeds to use a file (?) on the inside of the barrel after he saws off the end. Does anybody know what that was for? I’m just curious. I doubt it is the kind of action that has some sort of deeper meaning behind it.

Heh. Step 5

Everything is on the Internets.

I really enjoyed that movie.

hahaha yes, everything IS on the internet isn’t it? Thanks!

I just went on a modern western binge and watched No Country for Old Men and Hell and High Water. Only NCFOM made me necro a thread, because Javier Bardem is soooo good in this. And I thought Kelly Macdonald looks like Josh Brolin’s daughter when he first walked into the trailer. I don’t know how convincing her accent is, but I will watch almost anything with her in it. And the Coens didn’t bother showing the final motel shoot out, only the aftermath. That is just ballsy. Hell and High Water is a bit meh in comparsion.

Next up for me: True Grit (Coen Brothers remake). I blame RDR2.

Better than the original by far

I agree it’s better, but it’s fun seeing John Wayne in a different kind of role.

Challenge issued!

That’s 100% Cormac McCarthy! Part of what’s remarkable about the Coens’ movie is how close they hew to the book.

Also remarkable for their faithfulness to Portis’ book.


Couldn’t you have pick something earlier? Like Gosford Park or Brave? I’m still swooning over her and Clive Owen in Gosford Park.

She was sooooo good in Puzzle! My fifth favorite movie of 2018 I think.

I didn’t know she was in No Country For Old Men. I’ll have to watch that movie again and watch for her. And to watch Gosford Park apparently.

As a retrospective, I felt Javier Bardem was perhaps, and this might be controversial, too good.

What I mean is that Javier was some kind of otherworldly … thing… outside of the normal boundaries of the laws. But No Country For Old Men was as much a landscape film as anything and he seemed so out of place, something “not of” the landscape. Which… perhaps?.. works against the theme of the film. It’s not really about No Country if the antagonist really isn’t part of the landscape of that country.

It wouldn’t necessarily have been as good a film, nor necessarily in many ways the same film, but it would have been interesting to have had a much more ethnically Mexican or Central American actor in his role.

The thing about that part of Texas is the sense of being exposed, vulnerable, in a harsh landscape, next to a border that is permeable in both directions for one kind of person and impermeable for another. Having a character named “Anton Chirgurh” doesn’t sound like a hitman from Mexico. But having a character named “Jose Gonzalez” would have flipped the whole feeling of the film, about the feeling that “just over that hill” is a place you cannot go - but that can come at any time and get you. That would reduce Chirgurh to being part of the landscape again, but elevate that landscape to being the center of the story.

He’s not part of that country, though. He’s not supposed to fit in. He’s Death.

Totally! Sounds like you get Cormac McCarthy as well as the Coens did. :)

There’s a precursor to Chigurh in one of his early novels called Outer Dark. These three demonic guys travel the countryside causing evil things to happen, leaving destruction and murder in their wake, and there are plenty of scenes like Chigurh’s “lucky quarter” confrontation, but they never end well for the gas station attendant role. I think I saw them referred to as “vampires” once, which is a kind of dumb way to put it, but understands perfectly how the characters relate to the story and the world. Chigurh is those characters turned into one dude and transplanted to a modern crime yarn.

In other words, what @HumanTon said.


Sometimes time heals old wounds. We know that because well, the protagonist and antagonist of this movie heal wounds during the movie. The sheriff is trying to heal his past. But book aside, movies can sometimes suffer from charging ahead, only to putter out. And since I’ve forgotten a lot of the content of the movie itself, I was again enraptured this evening watching this. It’s worth a bump to talk about it, again.

And I had forgotten why I had ire about the movie itself. Man, I thought to myself, this is a fantastic western. Man, I thought to myself, the characters are superb. I also though, self, I love how the directors as well as the story itself lets itself be told, lets things happen but allow you only visual clues as to what went on, what was missed. It lets you piece together and focus on what you’ve gleaned.

And then you get to the end. How would a story like this end? The semi-good guy wins and gets away with the cash? No, no. To … trite. What about the bad guy wins and gets away to prowl again? No, maybe not that either. What about the sheriff who’s slowly pieced together this horrible nightmare that’s happened and he can come save the wife? “Oh hell no,” I say in m best Tommy Lee Jones accent. It needs something. Maybe, no end. No end at all. Just give that invested watcher nothing to walk away from but the monologue of the sheriff who didn’t really save anyone or solve anything. He fades out with the reflections of dreams not understood. That’s it.

So my beef isn’t with the Coen’s who’s other works I’ve enjoyed and for most of this I enjoy as well. My beef is with Cormack McCarthy, who at least I’ve read other books by. “Why,” I ask? Why end such a powerful and visual and visceral story, with a monologue?

Those of you who’ve read this or understand it differently, what am I missing? And further, the loaded question, why is this such a favored movie, hell maybe THE MOST favored of Coen fare, and yet it ends in such a way.

I’m lead to believe that since we view the story and hear parts of the story through the narrative of the sheriff, that I should be taking away something from the whimpered monologue ending. But I don’t. As a listener to this story, I’m left asking why it didn’t really end. We don’t end with closure itself, but … what? Why the hell don’t I like this movie?

Have you ever tried so hard to like a movie that everyone else likes but you just can’t? Or ever thought, maybe I should read the book, or maybe I’ll go insane if it isn’t much different?

I need a beer.

Never understood the antipathy toward the ending. The story concludes, all loose ends are tied, and then there is a sort of grace note at the end. Odd? Sure. It in no sense diminished my overall impression of the movie. It’s a masterful thriller morally grounded by Tommy Lee Jones’s profound weariness, and featuring what is probably one of the ten best villains in movie history.

This is their best movie apart from Fargo, in my opinion. Next would be Inside Llewyn Davis. These are the three films that, for me, transcend the technical immaculateness that can be found in all their work but that sometimes overwhelms it.

Sometimes you just don’t like something. It’s fine. For example, I have a complete indifference to the Beatles. Never took to Hitchcock either, aside from Shadow of a Doubt and that was mainly for Joseph Cotton. I say this because I don’t think your reading of it is all that different from mine. However, I like this move and especially this ending. I can explain my interpretation that I like that makes me appreciate it, but that doesn’t mean it works for you. I’m sure this is, if not the majority, a common reading, which, again, I suspect you basically share in fewer words. Also, I haven’t seen this in a while so I could be wrong about some details.

Anyway, the ending is a letdown. But, for me, that’s part of the appeal. The movie is titled No Country for Old Men. One of the core themes is that Jones’ sheriff is essentially out-of-touch with the modern world (the country as it were) to the point where he can’t do his job properly (he’s a sheriff that can’t solve or prevent murders or protect people). Before the final monologue, he talked with his uncle (older and thus even more left behind). His dreams are about his father. He looks to both men for answers, but they can’t give him any. They’re too old. The sheriff even notes that he is now older than his father ever was. I’m thinking the first dream he loses money he was entrusted with, but there’s no lesson to be learned here that can be applied. Maybe it’s reinforcing that he can no longer do his job since he was supposed to protect the wife and failed, just as he failed keeping the money in the dream. Even so, there’s nothing here to help him. The second is the snow pass where his father is ahead of him and the sheriff is walking toward him, but the sheriff wakes up before he reaches his father. Again, no lesson here. Perhaps had he reached his father, he could have learned something, but probably not. They’re both old men and, as we know, there’s no country for them. So, there’s no place for any of them anymore. They cannot understand the evil/violence of the modern world. Of course, the uncle mentioned senseless violence in the past as well. So either violence was always meaningless and there’s nothing really unique about it now making the issue simply that the sheriff is too old to handle it. Or perhaps that the violence he’s investigating really is worse and he can no longer comprehend what it means enough to understand it. Either way, he was always a few steps behind Chigurh / death / violence. Regardless of interpretation, there’s no place for him anymore and perhaps there never was.

So when you say this:

That’s the point of the film, at least how I see it. If you don’t like that—which is totally understandable—you won’t like the ending.

The title of the movie is taken from a line in a Yeats poem, Sailing to Byzantium. I’d be curious to hear how the poem somehow informs the movie. It’s one of my favorite poems but it’s not an easy poem to talk about. It’s just intriguing and lovely and heady. I’ve heard the poem explained and the explanation when given makes sense, but I have trouble trying to explain the explanation, which may simply be due to my lack of scholarship.

Notably, tying in a bit to the theme of the film, sailing to a place that no longer existed. Isn’t that poem about (or at least can be interpreted as) the end of Irish / British agrarian lifestyle after the onset of industrialization? If so, it seems similar thematically. I think I wrote a comparative paper in an English Lit class in college comparing it to a pastoral poem by Keats, but I could be thinking of some other Yeats poem considering how long it’s been. Though, maybe I was stretching it a bit back then.

Edit: Having read it again, it would have to be stretched pretty far to apply explicitly to the end of agrarianism, unless you read the pastoral past as part of the soul of the people / nation I guess. Although, my shaky undergrad interpretation aside, it does compliment No Country for Old Men nicely.

I still feel this way, ending aside. I know that sounds strange. It’s not a bad movie at all and done very well. There are parts that I don’t like, but the movie itself was clearly a work of very talented directors. In fact I’m not sure that I even like Fargo better. We’ve had a thread on that I believe. @Navaronegun started it. I forgot what the final vote tallies wore for Coen brothers movies.

And to that point:

I appreciate you writing out this take on the ending. I think the book probably covers more of the sheriff and probably cements this even more as his narrative of the story and THAT he couldn’t do anything about it. Things changed around him and he’s no longer the lawman he was and there is not place for him.

My failing, and perhaps some of the movie itself is that the Coen’s pulled that narrative out of the book and expanded upon the visualization of that so clearly and powerfully that we don’t get the framing of the sheriffs tale quite as much. I certainly didn’t and even a few small changes could have reshaped the movie around the sheriff telling the tale. Like, perhaps him actually narrating a bit in the beginning, or and ending monologue that circles back to the tale. That part of the movie is disjointed to me and your understanding certainly helps that, I just wish it was done better. The narrated story is so action packed, tense and visceral that you completely forget the sheriff’s framed narration of events as part of the story. He only slows it down.

Still not sure I want to read the book, however. The Road was so, so depressing. I liked the writing but I’m unsure how that will translate to McCarthy prose that drove this movie.

No votes, just A ranking of them. And this was my top film.