Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Three cheers for Bardem and the Coens

In Sunday's Oscars, Javier Bardem's win was a certainty. I had seen the film, No Country for Old men, only last Friday and everything was fresh in my mind: I could not stop thinking about the character played by Javier Bardem in that twisted western. I kept wondering about the scenes that I had seen with near apnea, how the Coens had worked out every minor detail (the shot where the crumpled piece of a polybag unwinds itself, and nothing else moves in the mis en scene) in the film, how the sheriff was being outfoxed by this mysterious and ghostly criminal in a changing world. I was enthralled by the nihilistic vision of the directors. I will never forget the humourless dignified baddie (Bardem) in this film, who is even better than the Bill in Kill Bill.

Update: The New Yorker's David Denby describes the work as "lethal cool." Yes, that's the right expression I guess. Read the first two paras of his article on the Coen brothers and their works, and he says, in precise words, the words and images that I wanted to capture as my own reaction to No Country for Old Men.

The Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” casts an ominous and mournful spell from the first shot. Over scenes of a desolate West Texas landscape, an aging sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones), ruminating on the new viciousness of crime, says that he’s not afraid of dying. But, he adds, “I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard.” Without transition, we see Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), an odd-looking man in a modified Prince Valiant haircut, murder first a deputy sheriff, then a stranger whose car he needs. (He strangles the deputy and shoots the stranger with some sort of gun attached to what looks like an oxygen tank.) The movie jumps again, to Llewelyn, an early-morning hunter (Josh Brolin) who’s out in the desert tracking antelope. In the distance, he sees five pickup trucks arrayed in a rough circle and some dead bodies lying on the ground. He moves in slowly, rifle held low. His attentiveness is so acute that it sharpens our senses, too.



Patrick Roberts said...

just saw no country for old men; it's unassumingly unconventional and yet (thankfully) never over the top... all in all the Coen brothers deserve their Oscars, well done indeed.

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks for dropping by Patrick. It's an outstadning film, and would be remembered for a long time.