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Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Rodger Boyce, Barry Corbin, Beth Grant, Kelly Macdonald
Writing Credits:
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$1.226 million on 28 screens.
Domestic Gross
$61.336 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Uncompressed 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 122 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 3/11/2008

• “The Making of No Country for Old Men” Featurette
• “Working with the Coens” Featurette
• “Diary of a Country Sheriff” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


No Country For Old Men [Blu-Ray] (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 28, 2016)

After more than 20 years of film-making, Joel and Ethan Coen finally struck Oscar gold with 2007’s No Country for Old Men. Among other awards, it nabbed the much coveted Best Picture prize.

Did the Coens have to compromise their quirky/dark style to gain this honor? Nope – for good or for bad, Country feels distinctly like a Coen Brothers product, though it clearly favors the dark over the quirky. This means one should think more “bodies in the wood chipper” than “deadpan, pregnant, heavily accented Midwest cop”.

Set in desolate west Texas circa 1980, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles across a drug deal gone wrong. Among the corpses, he discovers lots of narcotics as well as a suitcase that contains a couple million bucks. Like many people would, he snags the cash and goes on his merry way.

This doesn’t leave him free and clear, though. Hired assassin Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) goes after the money and doesn’t plan to simply ask nicely for its return. If he catches Moss, he will shoot first and ask questions later – a plan that applies to anyone else he encounters as well.

While Moss tries to keep ahead of Chigurh, local sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tracks both of them. The film follows these threads and some other complications.

And gets darned bloody while it’s at it. Although we’ve seen some gritty Best Picture winners, Country stands out as something different to me. As violent and dark as some of them could be, they focused on the heroic side of things too much to be as grim as Country.

For instance, The Departed mostly focused on the perspective of an undercover cop who infiltrates a criminal organization. It features ethical complexities but maintains a clear sense of good and bad, and we’re largely exposed to a character who maintains – or tries to maintain, at least – the moral high ground.

No such nuances exist in Country. Sure, it offers the investigation by Sheriff Bell, but it doesn’t concentrate on his side of things over the other facets.

In fact, Sheriff Bell really plays a minor role through much of the film. We see much more of Chigurh and Moss than we do anyone else, probably because the Coens relish the bad guys more than they do the heroes. Granted, Moss doesn’t fit the mold of a true villain – he’s the besieged rodent in a cat and mouse chase with Chigurh’s relentless feline – but Moss sure isn’t anyone we’d view as a positive model.

This makes Country a dark ride, probably the grimmest Best Picture winner since 1991’s Silence of the Lambs. That one went for uglier subject matter and contained more evil at its core – no one here skins women and wears them as a suit – but at least it compensated with an actual heroic lead character who dominates the proceedings. For it to work the same as Country, we’d have needed to spend most of our time with Lecter and Gumb while Clarice makes only sporadic appearances that the filmmakers embrace in a half-hearted manner.

You can tell the Coens don’t care much about the Sheriff Bell side of things, at least during three-fourths of the film. They muster little interest in the white knight who tries to do the right thing.

The Coens would rather indulge in the psychopathic assassin who uses a bolt gun to slay his prey. After all, who’s more interesting: the vaguely John Wayne-style small town lawman or the amoral hitman with the moptop?

I must admit I’ve never considered myself to be a fan of the Coen Brothers. They can present a certain self-conscious side to their film-making, as their quirkiness feels precious and over the top to me. Especially in their comedies, I get the feeling they impress themselves too much with their fabricated eccentricities.

But maybe that’s just me, as the Coens certainly boast an extensive fan base. I don’t claim they lack talent, of course, and I’ve liked some of their films. I thought highly of Miller’s Crossing - one of their “straighter” films – and I maintain reasonable affection for Fargo, although believe it’s overrated.

It’s mainly the super-quirky comedic side of the Coens that irks me. To my relief, Country largely leaves that facet of their cinematic personalities out of the equation. Oh, the flick throws out the occasional oddball moment played for dark laughs, but the emphasis stays on the dramatic side of things.

And that’s what keeps Country on the positive side of the ledger most of the time. Even when the Coens embrace the oddly comic – like when a mariachi band awakens a bloodied character – the gag stays small and underplayed. The film lacks the oppressively broad strokes of some Coen films, so it doesn’t come across as quirky for quirky’s sake.

Does any of this make Country a great film? That’s the bigger question, and one for which I think the answer is “no”. I found Country to be an interesting movie, and it’s one that maintained my attention for its two hours despite some potential lulls.

As of 2007, Country may have been the least chatty Best Picture winner since 1927’s pre-talkie Wings. Dialogue scenes are few and far between in this effort, as “show” almost always trumps “tell”. It’s the polar opposite of fellow 2007 Best Picture nominee Juno, a flick that made its bones with its eccentric dialogue.

The lack of verbal material means that Country comes across as something unusual, but “unusual” and “great” aren’t the same thing. This is a good, reasonably involving flick but not anything that seems particularly memorable.

Actually, some of the elements that make it different can end up as flaws. While it certainly remains dark, that grimness ensures a one-note feel and it means an essential absence of character development.

Some of this changes during the third act, but I’m not sure it’s for the better. The tale takes a tone shift when Bell becomes more central to the plot, and viewers are sure to debate ad infinitum whether or not this turn actually works. Maybe it’s brilliant and deep, maybe it’s pointless and inconclusive, or maybe it’s neither.

The final act creates a distinct contrast with the rest of the film, and I still really don’t know how I feel about it. On one hand, I applaud the decision not to give Country a more traditional conclusion; the movie goes in an unexpected path that allows it to stand out against its predecessors.

On the other hand, I can’t say that the ending feels satisfying. Perhaps that’s the point – to avoid spoilers, I don’t want to get too detailed here – but when the flick ends, you may be left somewhat befuddled.

Ultimately, No Country for Old Men is a good film, and one that certainly works better than the average Coen Brothers effort. I don’t think it deserves all the praise it’s received, though, as I can’t quite view it as a great piece of work. The movie has a lot going for it but falls short of excellence.

The Disc Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

No Country for Old Men appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mix of downs and mostly ups.

My biggest concerns related to edge haloes, as mild instances of these cropped up throughout the movie. I also thought some parts of the film seemed a bit “processed” and less than natural.

Otherwise, the image worked pretty well. Overall definition seemed good, as even with the haloes, sharpness came across as pretty tight. The film lacked shimmering or jagged edges, and source flaws failed to appear.

In terms of palette, Country went with an arid yellow tint much of the time, though a fair amount of teal appeared as well. This meant few – if any – more dynamic hues. I couldn’t fault the transfer, though, as the colors stemmed from the visual design and the disc replicated the tones well.

Blacks were pretty dense, and shadows usually worked fine. A few low-light shots seemed a bit too thick, but not to a serious degree. While much of the film looked positive, the handful of negatives knocked my grade down to a “B-“.

On the other hand, the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack of Country proved satisfying. Though the soundfield lacked the consistent dazzle factor to enter into “A” territory, it used the give channels in a positive manner.

Most of the effective sequences came from those that involved fights with bullets or Chigurh’s bolt gun, as during these, blasts and crashes popped up from all around the room. General atmosphere seemed involving as well, with a natural, spacious feeling about them. The elements were placed accurately and fit together in a tight, convincing manner.

Audio quality was also strong. Speech sounded concise and distinctive, with clear lines and no related issues. Effects seemed clean and dynamic. They were accurate and presented vivid imaging.

I can’t comment on the music, though – outside of its closing credits, the movie featured no score. That was fine with me, since the audio was very good for the film and it didn’t need music. I liked this powerful soundtrack.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the 2009 CE DVD? Audio seemed a bit richer and fuller, while visuals were tighter and more concise. This may not have been a great transfer, but it improved on the DVD.

The Blu-ray includes the same extras as the original 2008 DVD, which means much of the material from the 2009 CE goes missing. We find three separate featurettes. The Making of No Country for Old Men runs 24 minutes, 29 seconds and provides comments from writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen, UPM executive producer Robert Graf, production designer Jess Gonchor, property master Keith Walters, costume designer Mary Zophres, makeup artist Christien Tinsley, stunt coordinator Jery Hewitt, special effects coordinator Peter Chesney, and actors Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Kelly Macdonald, and Javier Bardem.

“Making” looks at the source novel and its adaptation, shooting in Texas, cast, characters and performances, period elements and visual design, stunts and effects, and a few other thoughts. “Making” adds up to half promotion and half good facts. Most of the latter appear in the piece’s second segment, as the first devotes itself mostly to a general description of the story and characters. This never turns into a fascinating piece, but it includes a mix of useful details.

Working with the Coens fills eight minutes, seven seconds with comments from Bardem, Brolin, Macdonald, Graf, Jones, Zophres, Hewitt, Chesney, Gonchor, Tinsley, Walters, and actor Tess Harper. The show tells us what it’s like to interact with the Coens and their style as co-directors. Of course, much of this degenerates into basic praise for the Coens, but we get some good footage from the set and a few minor insights about the brothers.

Finally, Diary of a Country Sheriff goes for six minutes, 44 seconds and involves the Coens, Graf, Jones, Bardem, Macdonald, Harper, and Brolin. They chat a little about some characters and movie themes. We get some decent thoughts but not a whole lot of substance.

The disc opens with ads for National Treasure: Book of Secrets and Gone Baby Gone.

Do I like No Country For Old Men? Yeah, most of the time. It suffers from ups and downs, but it succeeds as a whole. As for the Blu-ray, it comes with strong audio as well as erratic visuals and a minor selection of supplements. This becomes a decent release for a mostly interesting film.

To rate this film visit the original review of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

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