Archive for June 22nd, 2010

by Joel

#70 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series counting down the most acclaimed films of the previous decade.

“It’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small world after all, it’s a small, small, small, small world…”

“The world” of this film’s title is a theme park which combines a lushly wooded landscape with reproductions of international monuments: a towering yet smaller-than-normal Eiffel Tower which looms over the whole park like a panopticon, a small set of the New York skyline which still includes the World Trade Center, a bite-size Leaning Tower of Pisa which perpetually invites tourists to stand twenty feet in front of it with their hand out so that photographic “tricks” can make them appear to be holding it up. (Director Zhang Ke Jia always shoots these particular tourists from the side, so that the absurd artificiality of their gesture is highlighted.) This demi-monde, further dislocated by being placed in Beijing instead of the American setting (say, World Showcase in Disney World, or else any number of miniature golf courses) where we might expect it, is fascinating enough to sustain the film even if there isn’t a plot. Which, at first glance, there isn’t, really. Still, a story of sorts develops over the course of the film, or rather several stories, glimpses into characters’ lives which remind us how vast and implacable is the real world outside the bounds of our dreamlike global village. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(USA 2007 122m) DVD1/2

Looking for what’s coming

p  Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin  d/w  Ethan Coen, Joel Coen  novel  Cormac McCarthy  ph  Roger Deakins  ed  Joel Coen, Ethan Coen  m  Carter Burwell  art  Jess Gonchor

Tommy Lee Jones (Sheriff Ed Tom Bell), Javier Bardem (Anton Chigurh), Josh Brolin (Llewelyn Moss), Woody Harrelson (Carson Wells), Kelly MacDonald (Carla Jean Moss), Garret Dillahunt (Deputy Wendell), Tess Harper (Loretta Bell), Barry Corbin (Ellis),

No film was more universally praised in its year than the Coens’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s tale of consequence, changing times and murder.  Yet no film excited more discussions over an ending arguably in its decade, let alone its year.  For those seeking a traditional climax, they’ll come away scratching their heads and bemoaning a lack of cohesion.  Yet were they really looking, or to be more accurate were they watching but not really listening.  It’s your ears you need to have at attention, even more than your eyes.

            Set in 1980 in Texas, No Country follows one Llewelyn Moss.  One day out hunting he finds a group of abandoned trucks, several corpses, a stash of heroin and two million dollars.  He decides to keep the money, a decision which leads him to suggest his wife leave and meet up with him later while he tries to shake off the various types after him.  They consist of Ed Tom Bell, a soon to be retired sheriff and son of a sheriff in turn, a group of underworld Mexicans, Anton Chigurh, a psychotic hit-man who wants the loot, and Carson Welles, hired to find and deal with Chigurh.  (more…)

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