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40 movies for 40 days: No Country for Old Men

I actually chose a movie released in this century for the third title on my Lent list, the Coen brothers’ Oscar-winning “No Country For Old Men.”

Here’s a quick synopsis: After Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon the remnants of a drug deal gone wrong, including $2 million, he’s pursued by single-minded hitman Anton Chigurh (Jarvier Bardem). Veteran Texas sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is also on the bloody case, which makes Ed Tom ponder his effectiveness as a lawman in what he perceives as an increasingly violent society.

I love “No Country” because…

…you can’t stop what’s coming.

…Woody Harrelson (Carson Wells) proves himself as a damn fine character actor.

… Llewelyn’s mother-in-law elicits chuckles when she complains of “the cancer.”

…the Coens faithfully follow Cormac McCarthy’s novel.

…Scottish native Kelly Macdonald (Carla Jean) never betrays her fake Texas accent.

…Carla Jean represents the sweetest, saddest, most sympathetic character.

…Llewelyn calls Anton Chigurh “Sugar.”

…of the sassy look the lady at the trailer park shoots Chigurh. Even Chigurh knows better than to tangle with her.

…the name Ed Tom Bell suits Tommy Lee Jones.

…Chigurh shows emotion only when Carla calls him on his psychotic coin toss method of determining who lives and dies and when the man at the gas station dares to attempt small talk. Crazy normal people.

…of two words – Barry Corbin.

…Llewelyn makes mistakes and puts himself and others in harm’s way, but he’s an average guy trying to maneuver his way out of a bad situation.

…Roger Deakins’ rich cinematography enhances the mood.

…of the scene where Ed Tom and the deputy find the warm milk in the trailer and Ed Tom views his reflection in the TV.

…Ed Tom anchors the movie. He represents us and voices our anxieties for the future with damn-near poetic observances, “I always figured when I got older, God would sorta come inta my life somehow. And he didn’t. I don’t blame him. If I was him I would have the same opinion of me that he does.”

…by minimizing the score, the silences resonate louder.

… Ed Tom’s visit to the motel (post-carnage) remains ambiguous.

…it helped me view Josh Brolin as more than James’ son and Barbra’s stepson.

…of lines like this: the deputy – “It’s a mess, ain’t it, sheriff?”; Ed Tom – “If it ain’t, it’ll do till the mess gets here.”

…I shouldn’t laugh at this, but I do anyway, “Supposedly, a coyote won’t eat a Mexican.”

…with all the talk about the power of opening lines, tell me if there’s a better way to end a movie than “and then I woke up.”

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