Friday, November 23, 2007

Blood Not So Simple

As promised, a Friday review of a current movie, to guide your holiday film-viewing. Wednesday night I saw "No Country For Old Men," the best-reviewed film of 2007 so far, and I'm happy to concur that it is indeed a masterpiece. It ranks with "Blood Simple" and "Fargo" as jewels of the Coen Brothers oeuvre. Below, we run "Country" through 5 Parameters of Criticism and share snapshots from yesterday's Thanksgiving festivities.

Though based on a Cormac McCarthy best-seller, the film exudes the Coen Brothers' black humor, seat-edge suspense, ear for dialogue, and visual ingenuity. "Country" is driven by character and propelled by a fine acting trio: Javier Bardem (top left) as a psycho drug smuggler, Josh Brolin (top right) as the hapless passer-by who decides to make off with $2 million, and Tommy Lee Jones (immediately above) as the sheriff trying in vain to avert bloodshed and make sense of it all.

1. Four Words That Encapsule: "Crime Unleashes Wicked Shit."

2. Haiku (5/7/5):
"Eight lifeless bodies
should be a disincentive
to steal drug money."

3. Oblique Comments: Tommy Lee Jones is an acting treasure - a triumph of substance over appearance. Is there a female equivalent?

4. Insight: I'm impressed by Coens' deft genre-mixing - Western, noir, black comedy, character film, pulp novel... At times I felt the echoes of John Sayles ("Lone Star" sense of place), Quentin Tarantino ("Kill Bill" charged dialogue and mix of character and cartoonishness) and Tommy Lee Jones himself (irony and setting of "Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada").

5. Links: a) Official Site; b) Metacritic book review of source material.

For Thanksgiving dinner I joined my brethren from Sundance, my gay outdoors club, in deepest New Jersey, at my friend Gene's home in Bridgewater. It was warm, and I saw more foliage in one afternoon than I've seen this entire autumn! Red, red, red, red, red....

Gene hosted 30 guests, baked an apple pie, built half the furniture himself, and prepared this delightful squash soup with ginger...

For me the food highlight was Jim's couscous with pine nuts, raisins, and roasted vegetables, presented here up close and personal - I'll take that over stuffing any day of the year...

A three-mile walk around the area helped digest, if not 'work off' the traditional, tasty excess calories...

Our hike was a wet one, as the morning's 65F sunshine morphed, darkened, crackled, and sprinkled forth..

Holiday Leftover Cartoons:

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