No Country For Old Men: Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray)
Release Date: April 7, 2009
Own it on Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Writer: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (screenplay), Cormac McCarthy (book)
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Stephen Root
MPAA Rating: R
These days, it’s hard to have too many steadfast rules when deciding on what movies to watch. Actors and directors seem to run hot and cold – following up a string of hits with a slew of terrible films and unwatchable remakes. But there is one directing duo that you can always count on to deliver you something special – the Coen brothers.
From Raising Arizona to Fargo to The Big Lebowski to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Joel and Ethan Coen have racked up an impressive resume (with very few missteps along the way). In 2007, the brothers became critical darlings with their film No Country For Old Men, which they adapted from a Cormac McCarthy novel. The film went on to win the 2007 Academy Award for Best Picture, along with Oscars for best directing, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor (Javier Bardem). A two-disc Collector’s Edition was released on April 7 on Blu-ray and DVD, so this week we are taking a look at the critically-acclaimed film and the new special features included on this new release.
Set in the 1980s near the United States–Mexico border, No Country For Old Men is, at its core, the story of three men. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is out hunting one day when accidentally discovers the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. Moss finds dead bodies, a truckload of heroin and $2.4 million in cash stuffed inside a satchel. He takes the bag and several weapons, then flees the scene.
Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is a cold-hearted hitman hired to recover the money. Chigurh carries a silenced shotgun and a cattle gun used for slaughtering livestock to eliminate anything (or anyone) in his path. He seems to enjoy killing, though overall he comes across as emotionless. Several times in the film he flips a coin and forces his potential victims to call it to decide whether they live or die, leaving their death up to fate, but for the most part he simply eliminates anyone standing in his way without much thought or hesitation. Chigurh also has one of the worst haircuts in cinematic history and a voice as deep and evil as Buffalo Bill’s in Silence of the Lambs, which both make him an incredibly chilling and disturbing villain.
Investigating the aftermath of the ill-fated drug deal is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). Sheriff Bell is a relic from the old days of law enforcement. He waxes poetic about the good ol’ days when most sheriffs didn’t even bother to carry a gun and struggles to understand the brutality and senseless killing brought to his town because of the drug trade.
While the story mainly focuses on these three main characters, the film also has an impressive supporting cast. Woody Harrelson, Stephen Root and Beth Grant all have small, but memorable roles in the film. However, the true standout is Kelly Macdonald, a Scottish actress who absolutely nails the Texas accent and steals every scene she has with Josh Brolin as Carla Jean Moss, Llewelyn’s girlfriend.
Overall, No Country For Old Men is an incredibly well-done and beautiful film. It’s by far the most violent movie the Coen brothers have ever done, but the violence serves the story and doesn’t feel gratuitous. The performances by all of the actors, especially Javier Bardem, are strong and the film is magnificently shot. The Blu-ray version is truly worth the purchase because you can really appreciate the beauty of the film when watching in high definition.
The story itself is incredibly gripping and entertaining, although I must admit that the first time I watched the film, I found it somewhat jarring at times. While I would certainly never question the writing of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, I was a bit surprised about the way a character’s death was presented late in the film and I found the final scene of the movie to be a bit underwhelming. Many people have tried to convince me that the closing scene of the film is incredibly symbolic and meaningful, but the film ends so abruptly and unexpectedly that upon first viewing, I found it rather off-putting (and somewhat similar to the controversial finale of The Sopranos). Watching this Collector’s Edition was my second viewing of the film and while I did soften a bit on the way they handled the character’s death and the final scene, I still don’t find the ending to be particularly meaningful or symbolic. However, the film is strong enough overall and the Collector’s Edition is packed with enough extras that I am willing to look past any minor grievance I have with the film.
One of the best bonus features is “The Making Of No Country For Old Men,” a 25-minute behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. While it is for the most part your standard making-of featurette, it is still a well-done piece that gives you a good overview of what went in to making the film. There is also a great behind-the-scenes look at Anton Chigurh first scene, which involves him brutally choking a police officer with a pair of handcuffs.
“Working With the Coens” is another featurette that isn’t particularly earth-shattering, but is still worth watching. It’s nice to see the love and respect that actors and crew all have for the Coens (especially the crew members who have worked with the duo on multiple films). It’s also fun to hear them described as the same person with two heads. It’s definitely a puff piece, but if you like the Coen brothers, you will probably enjoy this featurette.
“Josh Brolin’s Unauthorized Behind-the-Scenes” documentary is the antithesis of “Working With the Coens.” A tongue-in-cheek mocumentary, this satirical piece has actors sharing horror stories about how terrifying and unruly the Coen’s were to work with. Woody Harrelson is a bit all over the place and tough to follow (but, let’s face it – he was probably high when he filmed this), which takes a little bit away from the overall quality of the featurette, but Javier Bardem’s great comedic timing and killer performance in this piece make it worth viewing.
The two-disc collection also includes a “Diary of a Country Sheriff” featurette which talks about Tommy Lee Jones’ character, as well as Javier Bardem’s character and the landscape the two travel through and a “Press Timeline” featurette, which includes 16 different interviews conducted between October 26, 2007 and February 9, 2008.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of No Country For Old Men: Collector’s Edition. The film itself is worth watching over and over again and the special features give fans looking to dive deeper into the behind-the-scenes side of things plenty to sink their teeth into. So pick up a copy today, Friendo.
Written by Joel Murphy. No Country For Old Men: Collector’s Edition is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.