When I saw the Coen brothers accepting the many awards bestowed upon them for "No Country For Old Men," I wondered why they acted like it was a big joke that they won. Now I know...
I honestly didn't see this film as anything special. I thought Robert De Niro in "Cape Fear" was a much more interesting psycho than the character in "No Country..." I wonder why so many awards go to these films that highlight personalities who have no conscience whatsoever. People went nuts over "Pulp Fiction," another mediocre film that's only purpose seemed to be a portrayl of coldblooded killers as loveable goofballs. And, then, there was "Silence of the Lambs." Ugh! I wouldn't go see that film if I was paid $100. to go see it. Honestly! I wouldn't want to pollute my mind with such hideousness.
But, I have to admit that I too enjoy some movies that have violence in them. "LA Confidential" is one of my favorite films. I enjoyed "The Usual Suspects," the first "Kill Bill," and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," for example.
I really liked the Coen's film, "Fargo." I thought it was hilarious, in a warped, black humor sort of way. But, I felt like "Old Country For Old Men" just consolidated all the darkness of all those dumb people from Fargo into this one guy. But, in this case, the joke is on us. We're the dummies. For me, the journey to that ultimate message wasn't worth the trip. I already knew that. So, the Academy was wowed by yet another terminator type, psychopathic Earl, making his way comfortably through cities and towns, through churches, into the sitting room of a grieving widow, killing people in a variety of unique ways, in our faces, and, he gets away with it. What a grand message! Even my husband thought the movie stunk. We both sat there staring blankly at each other, wishing we'd watched "Geronimo" on TV instead.
I'd like to think that movies that resonate with people at a gut level should be part of what makes a movie Academy Award worthy.
Here we had this beautiful film, "Into the Wild," by Sean Penn about a young man, coming of age, asking himself what in life is truly important? Like many young men before him, he set out on his own path, searching for whatever he couldn't find in his life up until now. We follow him on this journey of adventure and the friendships he makes along the way. I read the book; and, I was pleasantly surprised how beautifully Penn translated this into a movie. At so many levels, this movie was entertaining. So many messages and characters who came alive in my heart. The lessons the young man could've learned; but, through the rashness of youth and the fickleness of fate, would only live on through his journals.
This visually stunning and entertaining film, brimming with heart and wisdom got nothing at the Academy Awards. It got a few mentions and that's it.
People said what a good job Tommy Lee Jones did in "No Country.." - that his grizzled, weary character mouthing a few words here and there about the callousness of society made the movie art. I guess him representing the weariness of an Empire gone beserk or something was supposed to lift us up out of the gunk, leaving us in a state of holy enlightenment. Personally, I think that small tribute to humanity in the movie shot way over most people's heads. And, was sort of stuck on there, like a tail on a donkey.
And, I wouldn't be so mean about it, except that they got the freakin' Academy Award for it. Otherwise, I'd say, "Yeah..it was okay. Kind of a kick. Wouldn't see it again. Would recommend it as a movie to watch while you're folding laundry, maybe..."
For my money, a much better Tommy Lee Jones movie with a more revealing and touching human message is "The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada."
Only one guy gets killed in it; and, the message is that no matter how insignificant he was to most people, that he as a human being mattered. And, Tommy Lee Jone's character sets out to show at least one person the truth of that. Of course it wasn't at all believeable; but, then, neither was "No Country..."
Some movies show us a world of violence, death, and hopelessness. Another shows us the same world; but, for a moment, we can feel the living breathing heart of a person. For a moment, humanity matters.
Here's hoping that movies like that get their foot in the door someday.