How do you know you’re in NYC? You go to see the new Coen brothers movie, it’s on the biggest screen in the house (imax), and it’s sold out bigtime (standing room) — even with Hollywood behemoths like Bee Movie and American Gangster under the same roof. The Coens own this town like few others, and that’s dedication considering they haven’t made a satisfying film in over 10 years.
“It’s a right big mess, ain’t it sheriff?” “If it ain’t, it’ll do ’till the mess gets here.” That early dialog between Tommy Lee Jones and his deputy sums up No Country for Old Men. But mess is what the Coens do best and, though it isn’t quite the triumphant return to early-90’s form I’d hoped for, it certainly is their best movie in a really long time. (I’m a Miller’s Crossing/Barton Fink man myself though I still do have a soft spot for Crimewave — ahh Coens and Raimi together with Brion James.) That’s because, like my favorite non-fiction mystery Capturing the Friedmans, No Country leaves you with as many questions as answers. Fabulously so. The dialog crackles like old times, Javier Bardem is just terrifically evil, and did I mention that nearly every shot is flat gorgeous?
Emerging from the press hubub surrounding the film are some tasty bits about Coens’ secretive process and some lovely images. In a discussion on NPR, Josh Brolin (who would have thought he’d survive that wooden turn in Hollow Man?) explains why working with the Coens is like visiting Mars:
The perception of the Coens is that they’re so quirky, you look at their movies, they’re iconoclasts and they do what they want to do — which is all true — but the reality is that there’s not a lot of talk that goes on on the set. I think all their anxiety goes into who they’re gonna cast, so once they cast you they kind of let it go after we’ve had our initial talks to do what you want to do. But I can’t imagine two directors working together without a fight or an argument or at least “can you please let me finish” but it never happened once. They finish each other’s sentences. If one has an idea, the other will go “okay that’s great let’s try that.” That’s the rarity. That’s the Mars part. (atc)
Considering it’s been so long since the boys from Minnesota made a film up to their old standards, it’s pretty apropos that the Times chose now to do an homage — a great photo set of recreated scenes from their films featuring the original actors. Fun, moody, gorgeously shot stuff that brings back memories of classic movie moments. (article here)
The Coens have always been an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, shrouded in mystery. But now they’ve made us care again. Just like old times, boys. Arizona rides once more.