"Under Control"

Visitors to this page are well aware of my hatred of hollywood. i broke a 3.5 year theatre avoidance yesterday for a film i had waited for like children are currently anticipating santa. i cannot imagine a holiday gift more satisfying than the presentation of a disciplined and mature work of art in a nation saturated with insipid schlock that is categorized as "film" or even the baser category of "entertainment".

"No Country for Old Men" is an elegant, spare film. it was the masterpiece i knew it would be if the directors (the coen bros) would stay true to the material; the material being the 2005 novel by Cormac McCarthy, a writer who literally changed my life by pulling the veil from my eyes, removing my last stronghold of innocence while simultaneously arming me with a terrifying but necessary insight; instructing on temporality and the human condition with more authority than a thousand buddhas.

On the most basic level the movie is about hunters and the hunted, order and chaos, the fragility of civilization, and the nature of this world and us in it. There are four main characters: a world weary sheriff, a cowboy welder who makes a bad decision, an insanely competent killer with a memorable physical presence, and a landscape of big sky, deserts, thunderstorms, trailer parks, seedy hotels, dead mexicans and dusty jacked up trucks. The landscape is as critical to the intensity of this movie as the "overlook" was in "the shining".

There is a restraint in the direction that allows an incredibly violent story to unfold quietly and without urgency; the counterpoint to Tarrantino. That leisurely pace intensifies the anxiety and gives the film its sense of realness and authenticity.

A scene early in the movie has our cowboy hunting antelope. Missing the kill shot, he sets into the desert to finish off the wounded creature and instead finds a different wounded animal; a pitbull remarkably out of context. That odd inexplicable change is just one of the gorgeous symmetries to be revisited in another form later, like a rorschach ink blot in a mirror, punctuated with cryptic prophetic statements. It's like the book of the apocalypse only the creatures and signs and wonders are already familiar to us, just reconfigured so they appear fantastical and new.

There is a scene where the cowboy is shot and trying to escape the least of his worries by diving into the river and riding it downstream. the shooters unleash a pit bull to follow him. the cinematography of the two in the river is so beautiful i wished it to never end. it is one of the metaphors for the entire film and the world we created and inhabit. it is coming. it never stops. it never gives up. and if it is finished off, it takes on new life like snakes on medusas head. You can never lay down your sword.

Later after the movie, mr she and i dined in a lovely room and admired a skyline blinking on before a spectacular sunset of clearing rainstorms....one half of the sky dark, the other bright with a promise of clarity tomorrow. there was a sense of order all around us as we watched shoppers enter a mall, drive, park, pay, talk, laugh, showboat about in the current trendy fashions, consumed with texting or compulsively checking the weather channel on iphones, walking safely to their cars and so on. i was reminded of the first scene in the movie where a deputy assures someone on the other end of the phone that he had "it" all under control. a few frames later his boots struggle and fall limp. its anything but under control. and all it ever takes is something or someone who will not cooperate with the construct of moral law. and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

oh. and i did i mention that Tommy Lee Jones is in it? see the movie.
"No Country for Old Men"

Labels: , , ,


Blogger moi said...

Several things about this movie really make we want to see it (although I have not read Cormac McCarthy, out of fear he's like most contemporary "literary" writers, i.e. Annie Proulx, with her exhaustingly convoluted "style"). Tommy Lee Jones, of course; the Brolin kid, who I've had hopes for for years; and the subject matter. But I'm slightly dismayed to hear about the pit bull being used as a "weapon." Will the media never "get it" about these dogs?

But your review is so passionate, I'll have to make some time to check it out.

Hope all is well!

5:27 AM  
Blogger Pete Bogs said...

this is one I have been looking forward to as well... not because of the book but because of the Coens... you may want to check out There Will Be Blood when it comes out (in January, I beleive)...

for the most part, you can eschew Hollywood films... check out the independents and foreign films instead...

5:38 AM  
Blogger she said...

moi! grrerhaha i just left your yard. i know, i know. i thought of you when i saw the pits and how largely they figure into the imagery. but what is interesting is that the dogs are exactly like our cowboy and every other poor hapless soul that tangles up with evil; only the poor dogs have less choice.

as for mccarthy..i hear you. i think of him as a more modern and better hemingway -very masculine and very economical. theres not one superflous word. ever. start with something "light" like "all the pretty horses"

uh...josh brolin? is hawt! but no one has my heat like the one and only TLJ. his face is a masterpiece and a walking anti-plastic surgery public service announcement. good to see ya grrrrrrrrrrrl.

bogshond: i saw the trailer for "there will be blood" ...looks plenty intense...daniel day lewis, oil and weirdo healer/preachers. im so happy for the Coen's they are back on their game. good to see ya bogs!!

5:54 AM  
Blogger she said...

grrerhaha "no one has my heat"...freudian slip! i meant, of course, "heart"....or did i?

(preview is my friend!)

5:56 AM  
Blogger moi said...

Hey, we were both out early today!

I'll take your advice on the books and most definitely see the movie (parts of it were shot in Moi's own backyard, after all, and the subject matter is definitely my kinda stuff. And I'm with Pete on the Coens. Few better out there.).

Yeah, all hail Tommy Lee. I've been meaning to do a tribute post 4evah. You ever see Eyes of Laura Mars? Hubba.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

been in a
theater for
a very long time

would have waited for the dvd -- will watch any/every thing coen -- but your review is so eloquent and engaging, she...

i... must... go... now...

i love dog movies...

rin tin tin...



7:41 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

lol that YOU are reviewing a movie!

McCarthy... more authority than a thousand buddhas... lol pretty good eh? hehehe

Sounds like a fun evening! I love when a movie or book stays with you for a few days! It doesnt happen often but when it does its wonderful!

8:02 AM  
Blogger iamnot said...

The trailers had my attention, but I'd not heard of the book.
It'll have to wait till it comes out in video...but I'll see it.

8:15 AM  
Blogger she said...

moi: i love the coens too...but when i heard they were directing a cormac screenplay i was !!!!!!!!

i know its your backyard...so funny that on your blog today is a valentine to that very landscape. syncronicity baby. i saw eyes of laura mars and every other movie hes in. you know he actually ranches in texas. brangus. (angus+brahma) but you knew that alreay didnt you?

/t!!! good to see ya.! i thought the exact same thing. i said i will wait and buy the dvd. so i can be 'alone' with it. grrerhahaha.
but i had to see it big...i wish there were still 70mm films. it is a dog movie in some ways...animals and their imagery figure heavily even though its not obvious...the hunters hunting while being hunted kinda deal.

kate: i know. there will probably only be one label that reads "movie review" okay, so maybe a hundred buddhas grrherherha. but good insight for a "western man" no question bout it. good to see ya grrrrrl.

iamnot: you will enjoy both. i dont blame you for wanting to avoid a theatre...i cant stand the talkers. hell people go have a cocktail and chat but STFU when you are in a theatre. crikey. good to see you!

8:37 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Ah, Dawgy, Sugar Pup!! HBD!!!

But on No Country--uh-huh, youse hit the bull's eye, a very precise review with depth --most dawgs (or even folks) would never git what ya saw right off--no wonder youse ain't so much fer Hollywood iffin' ya grooves to this depth of art.

Ya wrote:

"...and all it ever takes is something or someone who will not cooperate with the construct of moral law. and there's not a damn thing you can do about it."

Yep. But ain' that the earth size rub of it?? The poor ole world doan rightly know what the "moral law" is no more.

Thas' what sheriff Tom Bell...aw, shucks--does ya mind iffin' I do a review too? Stand by fer a FRONT Porch review of NCFOM.

ON McCarthy-- he RULES American fiction. Elegant spare prose with a sinewy masculinity like no other.

Yeah, best to start wif' All the Pretty Horses, a coming of age, loss of innocence theme... but Blood Meridian is reality fiction that no human will improve on, IMHO. After No Country, he wrote The Road. His vision of our near future since the points made in No COuntry will go unheeded.

Oh! this is a juicy thread....

9:03 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

An' did I say that TLJ nearly walks on water? This movie is the best castin' coup I ever did see.

9:06 AM  
Blogger ArtfulSub said...

Disappointed to hear you opted to put money in the pocket of traitorous scumbags.

9:17 AM  
Blogger she said...

aunty: hey grrrrrrl! so good to see ya and thanky for the salute. i caint wait to read yore review. sinewy masculinity...rarer and rarer in a world of over coiffed metro sexuals with waxed eyebrows. grrrherhahaha will you post today?

i just read an interview about the river pitbull. that werent no movie dog aunty...was a bad ass barely under control. young brolin said that was the scariest part. that dog. i like that to get that shot they couldnt use no movie dawg, doanchoo?

artfulsub: i know. i know. i made an exception this one time. good to throw 16 dollars at the RIGHT thing. its jus' basic positive reinforcement trainin'. good to see ya artful!

9:37 AM  
Blogger she said...

oh and aunty: "earth sized rub of it" i like that.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

You bet, She -Puppy, today I'se gonna git mah review of No Country up...yep--love that they used a real dawg not stunt dawg. An I does love that the landscape is so evocative of the emptiness of most folks' haids...dern, hear I goes again, --gotta git to mah own shout out on it.

I see youse had a seraphic visitor...heh.

10:34 AM  
Blogger she said...

oh yeah...i saw that. too bad revvy packed up an' left. he was always looking for uriel. bad ass angel.

10:36 AM  
Blogger ArtfulSub said...


I guess it's hypocritical of me to express "disappointment" since I watch "Top Chef" on Bravo. We all slip sometimes.

And I did a movie analysis myself today. Sorta.

11:16 AM  
Blogger Anonymous Boxer said...

Wow - great review - you've made me want to see this.... and not just because of Tommy Lee (sigh.)

I also find your 3.5 year avoidence fascinating.

1:03 PM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

Okay. I'll see the movie.

Glad to hear you and the Mr. had a good time, and that you enjoyed the film. One of the advantages about living in NY is that they play old movies in beatiful theatres.

1:12 PM  
Blogger foam said...

tommy lee jones? i'm definitely seeing it then. i think i might have to check out that book. it's been a long time since i've read any decent ficiton.

uerrrhummerhhummm, clearing throught here...kind of froggy still with the aftermatch of allergies...erhhhhhummmm...
did you hear me howl?

2:17 PM  
Blogger foam said...

Star Wars Horoscope for Libra
You are on a lifelong pursuit of justice and determined to succeed.
You convey the art of persuasion through force.
You always display your supreme intelligence.
You have a great talent in obtaining balance between yourself and your surroundings.

Star wars character you are most like: Obi Wan Kenobie

2:20 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Sweet Cheeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2:32 PM  
Blogger moi said...

Birthday? Aw, happy, happy! I present to you, a virtual cake. With, uh, 21 candles, right :o)?

4:56 PM  
Blogger Aunty Belle said...

Heh heh, She-Puppy, hope your 29th was wonderful!

I did the review--it's up.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Mayden' s Voyage said...

Shucks- I'm late!
Happy Birthday :)

Your review of this movie was as good as the one I read at Rolling Stone :) Bravo!

I know you aren't on the computer as much- but I left you something at MV...

Hugs friend- :D

6:31 AM  
Blogger iamnot said...

Happy birthday she pup (certainly a pup at heart).

8:48 AM  
Blogger she said...

artfulsub: that was good. id love to see that Oz bit fleshed fully out. as unPC as possible for my tastes.

AnonymousBoxer: oh yes. i have a big stiff hate on for hollywood. im thrilled these didatic dicks of demogogery have tanked with their anti-american rips; such as lions for lambs. but i am willing a ready to support ART when it is offered. its a good movie you wont be sorry. i made tiny alpha my wallpaper.

xdell: there are MANY advantages to living in NYC. the whitney for starters. the cheap good food on every street corner. the street artists. and a certain PhD we all adore. of course i knew there were old movies in gorgeous theatres in NYC thanks to various woody allen films.

foamy: thanks for the greeting and birthday cheer and guess what? i am so clean! and i smell good to. thanks my friend. xo i still LOVE my chicken with a band aid on his neck. grrreherhahaha very clever. look! we are a couple of jedi masters? i wonder what sign got darth vader? i was kinda hoping for chewbacca but im cool with yoda. good to see ya grrrrrrrrrrrrl.

Kate! dont tell everyone about my cinamon bun ass! grrrerha thanks grrrrrl. see ya in a few weeks (maybe) you headed north for the holidays?

moi: no, its thirty. grrherhaha. thanks bite!

aunty: thanks grrrrl. i saw yore review. was good. hope we get a good discussion going.

mayden: i loved it. i drug it to my hard drive so i could look at it whenever i needed some southern comfort. thanks grrrrrrrrrrrl you are so dear. xo

iamnot: many thanks my good man. its over now, cept for the cryin'. grrherhaha

9:42 AM  
Blogger Infinitesimal said...

did I actually guess your birthday right?

no way.

it just felt like it was time for a singing birthday card!

well, i will not be offended if you hate the garment, just tell me.

hope all is well

12:38 PM  
Blogger ..................... said...

after all the great stuff you sent me? how could i resist?
glad you liked it.

1:14 PM  
Blogger she said...

vanille! glad to see you i was worried you dropped off the face of...well you know. way busy in school i guess? i dont hate it...i havent even tried it on yet...my studio party/sale is this weekend and i am crazy busy...but i know i loved that card. loved it. loved it. thank you sweet friend. and yeah you were ahead of schedule!! are you up to "c" yet? i'll be by

foamy: wait. cause you will get some ho made (grrherhaha - jus kiddin of course) christmass stuff.

2:17 PM  
Blogger LADY LUXIE said...

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sowwy' am late'...sniff!

I dunno' if that film will show here but I bet I can get a hold of it one way or another...am sure ;>

4:28 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

You are the fifth person to recommend the film. I want to see it, but not sure if I can handle the violence. Still, lately I am a huge fan of Javier Bardem. Did you see Love in the Time of Cholera???

7:48 PM  
Blogger Anonymous Boxer said...

did someone say,


Happiest of them to you, She.

9:57 PM  
Blogger puerileuwaite said...

It was your birthday? Well in that case, I too hope it was wonderful, and that you are feeling better.

Thank you for the movie review. If I am allowed to* (* because I have a knack for picking duds), I will see this one next.

(Even though it does seem like a blatant rip-off of my screenplay, "No Country for Young Pugs", which also prominently features Pit Bulls as agents of evil.)

5:18 AM  
Blogger ArtfulSub said...

Awww thanks. I'd be much honored if someone with actual talent "fleshed out" my Post-Modern Dorothy idea. hint-hint

7:56 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Must be very belated by now, but my wish is still for a Happy (Birth)day to you!.
Hoping you are well healed by now.

5:51 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...

The best cookie to hold up to decor will always be a sugar cookie...BUT...why not give it a yummy twist and do brown sugar???
White sugar cookies are boring, so I have used this:

2 cups brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup butter (softened)
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon vanilla
Mix sugar and butter; add eggs and vanilla and blend until well mixed. Then add the flour, baking powder, and salt; mix well.

You may add 1 cup of chopped nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, or coconut at this point if you wish.

Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 to 30 minutes. Cool well before cutting

Still...the beau and I went to a b and b in Hanover a few weeks ago and saw Gettysburg. The hostess, Catherine, made the best sugar cookies...these were soft but they may be managble. Catherine had these out when we got there...best ever...and she has them online. :)

8:36 PM  
Blogger ThursdayNext said...


8:36 PM  
Blogger Infinitesimal said...

OK but it is pretty spooky that I guessed that it was your birthday and you have NEVER EVEN TOLD ME when it is!!

I think that means we are true blue buddies.

Well look, I have that skirt new in a size 5 and 7 as well I just figured the smallest size would be best.

So if it don't fit, and you dig it, let me know I will send another from VANIIIIILE'S Boutique.

(I thought it would match the stripy shirt mebbe)

School is over in 2 weeks

9:49 PM  
Blogger Valyna said...

I've actually been quite interested in the previews and press on this one... thank you for your in-depth review - I'm sure I'll be seeing this one soon!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Doom said...

I came to such a different concussion. However, I have been movie gorging myself, after a long dry spell. Drats, so many people I like so well, you included just trust me, that I am going to have to consider watching it again. It happens though, whatever happened. Either I disagree with everyone or mistook and mixed up with 6 movies going into the brain at once.

Oh, glad to find your place again. After the computer crashed and was brought back to use, I still have not completely rebuilt my old paths and ways. So, hello, again. I was most usually quiet before, and probably will be again, anywhile...

7:24 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home