For one regrettable summer, I worked a job loading semis on the third shift (11 pm to 7 am).  On the weekends I didn’t end up working mandatory overtime, I would have to stay awake through the nights so I wouldn’t destroy my already fragile sleep schedule.  To keep up through those lonely nights in my parent’s basement, I would watch movie after movie.  I decided to get into classic movies, the ones that are bandied about as true masterpieces of cinema.  In one week, I watched Dr. Zhivago, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and Jaws.  There were a whole lot of other movies I saw as well, but most of those have faded as time passed.  Yet if there was one thing which stuck with me over the years, it was wondering about what it was which made a movie a classic.  Not only that, but can you ever tell that a movie will be legendary when it first comes out?  In the past few months, we have seen the birth of a cinematic masterpiece.

Starting this March 11th, now available on DVD from Miramax Films and Paramount Vantage, is the latest masterpiece from the minds of the Coen brothers.  No Country For Old Men is ready to be seen at home and change your life.

No Country For Old Men is the story of two million dollars, a man who found it, the evil which is chasing him, and the sheriff trying to catch that evil.  Llewellyn Moss is out hunting when he stumbles across a drug deal gone tragically bad and walks away with a cool two million in cash.  Anton Chigurh is sent to find the money and leaves a trail of bodies and reckless violence in his path.  Although this movie can be billed as action of sorts, most of the intense action occurs after the violence itself.  Then there is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, the man who finds he must scour West Texas to capture Chigurh.  This flawless film takes on fate, evil, and the search for hope, leaving the viewer as the winner above all.

The special features on this disc include a featurette about what it is like to work with the Coen brothers on this film.  I found this to be particularly interesting, especially in that it is said that they share such a common vision of the film that if you were to ask either of them a question about the pacing of a line or the idea behind a scene, you would get the same answer.  That is an astounding feat.  There is also a look into the making of No Country For Old Men, which is an illuminating and fascinating look behind the scenes.  There is also a featurette about Tommy Lee Jones and the character of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell.  This only furthers my belief that the whole story is all about Sheriff Bell and that the interactions between Llewellyn Moss and Anton Chigurh is little more than a fringe story which ends up causing Sheriff Bell to retire.  The role of side plot and main plot are reversed and, knowing the way in which Cormac McCarthy (the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist whose book this film is based off of) writes, I firmly believe this story is really all about the sheriff.

One cannot be too positive about this film.  This is not my favorite movie (a position constantly battled for by The Royal Tenenbaums and Donnie Darko), but it certainly stands a chance to become so over time.  Tommy Lee Jones is masterful in his role as Sheriff Bell (his wry humor is what makes this movie a true masterpiece), Javier Bardem completely deserved the Oscar he won for Best Supporting Actor, and Josh Brolin blew me away with his portrayal of Llewellyn Moss.  Every single character in this movie was both necessary and completely perfect.  From the main characters to the grandmother, the pleasantly dazed gas station owner to the lady running the motel to the fat lady running the trailer court – every character was exactly as they would be in the real world.  Both due to that sting of reality and also the general lack of musical scoring (7 minutes total of music in the entire film), this movie is drenched in suspense and exudes a pervasive feeling of impending doom.

I see Chigurh as an agent of fate and evil, a perspective he also shares.  He is unstoppable and has an almost preternatural knowledge of where Moss is and where he’s going.  Yet with what happens to him at the end, we see that he is not invincible.  And although Bell is forced to quit by what has happened, he still holds out some promise of hope for the future, some fire up ahead as reflected in his dream.

I had some friends who didn’t like ending, but that’s because the whole movie is about Sheriff Bell.  And it is the perfect ending to a perfect movie.

No Country For Old Men is the greatest movie of 2007, a new masterpiece which will stay with us for years to come.

This DVD is available at Amazon.com.

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