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37. No Country for Old Men (#171)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a fortnightly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men.

Lives are thrown into chaos when a drug deal in Texas goes horribly wrong. Llewelyn Moss stumbles across two million dollars in drug money, and finds himself drawn into a world of violence and chaos as cartel hitman Anton Chigurh is on his trail. If this is not the mess, it’ll do ’til the mess gets here.

At time of recording, it was ranked the 171st best movie of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: The Counsellor

There are two ways of looking at The Counsellor, both handily articulated by the movie itself.

At one point, two characters engage in an abstract conversation about grief. They speak on the phone about what it means to lose something that is irreplaceable, and what that does to a person. They speak in metaphors and lyrical turns of phrase, dancing around the issue at hand. One participant in the conversation recounts the story of Spanish poet Machido, who managed to channel his grief into beautiful and moving poetry. Poetry woven from misery and suffering, beautiful and yet torturous. Much like The Counsellor itself, a story about corruption and consequences and greed and wraith, articulated with thoughtful elegance.

There's a lot going on under the hood...

There’s a lot going on under the hood…

At another point, one character regales another with a tale of his strange sexual misadventures. Awkward metaphors are used to describe exactly what went down, as the other character (and the audience) watch on in a state of awkward disbelief. Using surprisingly elegant language – never at a loss for words to describe a truly surreal turn of events – the storyteller crafts a stunning portrait of a bizarre encounter. Trying to make sense of it all, the listener articulates the thought running through the mind of most of the audience. “Why did you feel the need to tell me that?”

The Counsellor straddles both extremes almost recklessly, veering from a sophisticated and thoughtful moral tale into something grotesquely indulgent and almost distractingly oblique. During one conversation, the seductive Malkina asks her lover Renier how he sees things playing out. He can’t help but imagine two contrasting extremes. With just a hint of self-awareness, Malkina point out that there’s a middle that Renier just isn’t seeing.

Deal or no deal?

Deal or no deal?

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Critical Revisionism: Retrospective Re-Evaluation…

It’s funny. I always figured that long-term critical re-evaluation was sort of a one-way street. I guess it always seemed that people were talking about “classics” that got an unfair rap from critics and audiences on initial release, but have subsequently become amongst the most influential films within their genre. I’m talking about movies like Blade Runner or The Thing, movies that were attacked on initial release, but have undergone a massive transformation and vindication in popular consciousness. I generally figured that good films that got bad reviews would eventually be found and praised for the quality productions that they were, while over-praised mediocre (or worse) films would languish in purgatory, forgotten about, save the occasional television re-run. So I’m surprised at the way the tide seems to have turned against Juno in the five years since the film’s original release.

Well, that's one response...

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Non-Review Review: True Grit

True Grit is a strange proposition. It’s very clearly a very typical Western movie, about a bunch of (effectively) hired guns hunting down a fugitive on the run from the law, in pursuit of a large bounty. However, it’s also very distinctively a Coen Brothers movie, in attitude and tone. It isn’t that the two are mutually exclusive (No Country For Old Men, for example, was a modern Western with a very Coen aesthetic), but it’s just strange to see both elements so strongly pronounced. Although not quite perfect, True Grit is a movie well worth your time.

Snow man's land...

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My Top 50 Movies of the Decade…

Alright here it is, my top fifty films of the decade. I’ve decided to stop complaining about Donal Clarke’s list in the Irish Times and just let rip myself. There’s more than a few crazy choices down there, but – after a week in the works – I’m happy with it. I doubt that a lot of other people will be.

Like the Oscars, but... you know, better...

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Is Anton Chigurh an Angel?

Yes, you read the title right. Is Anton Chigurh, the sociopathic hitman from No Country For Old Men who kills his victims an instrument used to cull cattle, an instrument of divine will? I stumbled across an interesting argument on-line which proposed that McCarthy (who is – apparently – staunchly conservative) wrote the character as an angel who was sent down to purge all those connected in anyway with the money from the drug trade – bringing on the old-school biblical wrath which you don’t see too often these days. Talk about executing your purpose with zeal.

Everytime Chigurh kills somebody, an angel gets its wings. It's pretty crowded up there, too.

Everytime Chigurh kills somebody, an angel gets its wings. It's pretty crowded up there, too.

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Non-Review Review: No Country For Old Men

It’s a funny world. But it has always been a funny world and it’s arrogant to presume that the world waited until we got here to go and get itself in a mess. Sure, some of us carry the fire off into that night, but it’s a very cold and very dark night and all we have is faith that there is an even greater fire out there waiting for us. No Country For Old Men is a stunning film – an odd fusion of the Coen Brothers with Cormac McCarthy which manages to say a hell-of-a-lot without weighing itself down with too much exposition or dialogue. It’s a great film which realy stands out even amongst the Coens’ already-impressive filmography.

Yes, it's a silencer. On a shotgun.

Yes, it's a silencer. On a shotgun.

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