Saw “No Country for Old Men” this weekend. I don’t think I can discuss much without the tiresome “spoiler alert,” but I’ll try. If you’ve seen it, or aren’t bothered by spoilers (which aren’t as spoiler-y as usual — this movie is pretty high-concept in the plot department), go to Roy’s place, and check out his original post, as well as the comments, and the boot to Glenn Kenny’s.
I’m more easily pleased. I loved the thing pretty much beginning to end, although I understand the objection to the last 25 percent, as well as the ending, which was greeted by a few stunned Huhs in the multiplex where we saw it. Didn’t bother me. This is a film made to be watched again and again, after which the ending will become more coherent, I think. Besides, even if you take the position that the denouement is a disaster, who the hell cares? Jack Nicholson was the weakest thing about “The Departed,” but I’ll watch at least a few minutes of it every kind it comes around on cable, because Leonardo DiCaprio is fantastic. If you can’t be thrilled by all that’s great about this movie, from the painterly composition of every shot to the note-perfect performances, well, you should probably go ahead and buy a ticket to “I am Legend.”
A few words about that composition: The Coen brothers are famous for storyboarding their movies from first shot to last. When you see their attention to detail — the bloodstained quarter in Javier Bardem’s palm, a dog’s leap for the throat that sends you an inch off your seat — you can appreciate movies in a whole new way.
As for Bardem, I think Roy nails it:
And if Javier Bardem had not made his monster Karloff-scale believable we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. This is the greatest kind of acting — the kind that suggests its own backstory. I can see him as a hollow-eyed, beaten boy, silently absorbing evil and taking all his lessons from it, growing into a creature that cannot be stopped or swayed, but still must have his little games to prove, in the face of uncomprehending fear (his or theirs?), that he has been right all along. Bardem’s performance is eternal in a movie that could have been.
Since we were in a mood for grim violence, but mostly because it was snowing like “Dr. Zhivago,” we opted for the verboten La Shish, our local Middle Eastern chain, for dinner before the show. Bad reputation, that place, but I justified our visit thusly:
1) The profit is probably all going to the IRS these days, not Hezbollah; and
2) It was snowing really, really hard, and it was either that or McDonald’s.
And even though the whole chain is in danger of folding like a cheap tent, the food was…heavenly. The best pita bread I’ve had in my whole damn life. A vegetable melange that tasted fresh, light, and perfectly spicy. Hummus to die for. The bread came with some sort of garlic paste I wanted to dab behind my ears, it was so good. The whole east side of Detroit is pretty slim pickins, restaurant-wise, but after one bite my only regret was that I didn’t support Hezbollah’s booster sooner. Anyone who can cook like that can’t be all bad.
Just a bit of bloggage today, via Metafilter: An 1898 letter to professional baseball players, outlining the new bad-language policy. Worth a read, if only for the chuckles. Go fuck yourself! So Al Swerengen.