No Country for Old Men: Cargill vs. Laremy

Two of our writers recently took in a very buzzy film, No Country for Old Men. As usual both Cargill and Laremy were placed in soundproof chambers (so they didn't fight) and asked to take their best shot at the following eight questions:

Are you a fan of the Coen Brothers?

Cargill:
I like a few of their films, but overall I'm not really a fan.

Laremy:
Yes, massively. Films like The Man Who Wasn't There and The Big Lebowski are in my top ten. However, I will say the Coens slipped with Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. Those were merely average.

Have you read the book?

Cargill:
No.

Laremy:
Nope. After seeing Cormac McCarthy on Oprah I've determined that he scares me a little bit.

Any standout acting performances?

Cargill:
All of them. Who knew Josh Brolin could be so riveting. This is his year. Combined with his role in American Gangster, he is set to emerge on the scene in a big way. Javier Bardem is incredible. The character is fascinating to begin with, but he makes him just pop on screen.

Laremy:
Josh Brolin is great. Javier Bardem, as a psychotic killer, was wonderful too. And I may make Kelly Macdonald my new obscure crush. The only slight knock I could give is that Tommy Lee Jones is pretty much just his normal curmudgeon self.

What works in this film?

Cargill:
The acting, the dialog, the first two-thirds of the film.

Laremy:
For me, just about everything. The Coen Brothers, at their best, are hard to top. They are at their best here. Subtle, wry laughs, outstanding pacing, genuine tension: I will see this multiple times in the theater.

What could have been better?

Cargill:
The ending. The film is unbelievably anti-climactic and provides one of the worst endings to the best film in recent memory.

Laremy:
For me this is one of the best of the year. It doesn't offer easy answers. Having not read the book it's hard for me to say if they were faithful to the source material, so perhaps people will gripe there.

Who should see this movie?

Cargill:
Anyone who can rattle off the Coen Brother's filmography verbatim.

Laremy:
If you're a Coen Brothers' fan this is a no-brainer.

Who shouldn't?

Cargill:
The average moviegoer who doesn't recognize the name Coen or who only enjoyed a handful of their films.

Laremy:
If you see a few movies a year, and one of them is Wild Hogs... well, this might be a bit too subtle for you.

Final thoughts?

Cargill:
This movie really let me down. It has an amazing buildup but then lets you down with the deliberate omission of a very important piece of the film.

Laremy:
Perhaps we live in a world where there are two types of people: those who are Coen Brothers' fans and those who are not. But I'd like to convert a few. No, this movie isn't your typical Hollywood story. It doesn't pander to the lowest common denominator. It occurs to me that maybe, just maybe, we should support films that aren't in the exact same style as everything else out there.

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