Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I just watched No Country for Old Men so you don't have to

The pull of the awards season can be enormous. You might see a trailer or read a synopsis of a film that doesn't look that good but you figure, well it's won so many awards so far, it must be good. This is the case with the Coen Brothers' latest film "No Country for Old Men." Over the holidays, you'll make the routine trips to the movie theater with your family and watch fare like National Treasure, I am Legend, or Fred Claus, but there'll be a voice in your head taunting you with the notion that you're watching easy escapist fare and encouraging fluff and that if you really want to truly experience cinema in all its grandeur, you'll spend those $10 on No Country for Old Men. "But I want to see Nicholas Cage solve mysteries and wisecracking Justin Bartha," you might protest, but the side of you that wants to be more cultured argues "But the New York, Toronto, Boston, Washington and Chicago Film Critics Societies' all voted for No Country for Old Men."

Film critics sometimes fail to grasp, that people aren't always going to drop everything every time someone tells them a film is the must see film of the year. They generally have a limited number of times they can get away to a movie theater, even in a packed holiday season such as this and based on box office figures this past holiday season, those trips might be taken up by films that might not be as cinematic ally rich but which assure the viewer of a good time, like I Am Legend or National Treasure, and God Forbid, they'll miss the film everyone's telling them to go see.

Well, American public, if you chose something over "No Country for Old Men," didn't get a chance to see that and probably won't get to it by the time it's out of theaters, not to worry, it's not the life changing experience they make it out to be. Don't let the critics guilt you into thinking you were a cultural buffoon for missing it.

In reality, the film is one that would make every film student's jaw drop in amazement at the fluidity in editing and economy of tone. For average Joe moviegoer, it's not too much of a life changing experience, however. In fact, it's little more than a run-of-the-mill action flick with a little bit of a higher ambition to be a homage to the Western. There's almost no character development and very little subtext or content.

Am I the only one who feels that it would be a drastic mistake that the critical community anointed this the best film of the year in their quest to keep cinema from being overrun by the action genre with crap like Rush Hour, Die Hard, and yes, Bourne Identity (not saying it's crap but it's low on character) from reproducing into sequel upon sequels with clones like Shoot 'em Up and Shooter popping into the theater each year? Am I the only one who feels that a picture that wins best picture should have a little more than well-choreographed action scenes to it? French Connection was the one exception i'm willing to live with because it was novel at the time, not anymore, especially when last year's winner was an action winner. Now, i'm rooting for There Will Be Blood (or Charlie Wilson's War if it makes the cut).

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