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Archive for June 8th, 2011

 

Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

 

 Cleaving to the studious determinism of a novel by think tank player, Cormac McCarthy, the Coen brothers, in producing the film, No Country for Old Men (2007), give us a splendid—if difficult—taste of the libertarian vintages coming out of their own, less bruited, think tank.

 

    The West Texas locale (and it’s 1980), bristles with Vietnam War veterans, signing on and off to each other, and a law-component lamenting the apparently unprecedented hardness of sensibility that package has sent screaming through its erstwhile fetching, wide-open and quiet spaces. Shuffling through its midst, the worst bad-ass of them all (if statistics are to be honored), namely, “Chigurh,” provisioner of whole military cemeteries by himself, puts out a bit of thought-provoking give-and-take with a soft-spoken little guy running a convenience store in the middle of nowhere. Trying to make pleasant small-talk with the invasively sloe-eyed stranger, the quiet grandpa asks about the weather in Dallas (he having inferred that place from the customer’s plates [on a car that had in fact been stolen, from a driver losing much more than that]).The wispy-voiced crime wave hardens those eyes a shade, and asks with a soupçon of belligerence, “What business is that of yours? Is there something wrong with anything?” The low-critter on the food chain pauses with some malaise, but, appreciative of conversational flow, explains that he’s “just passin’ the time.” We notice with some surprise a bit of a pleasant smile coming across the face of a figure who has already—just minutes into the history—shown himself to be quite dazzlingly unpleasant. He rallies his new acquaintance (whom he had, at the outset, referred to as “Friendo,” during the friction over Dallas), all the while patiently chewing on newly-purchased confections, one-by-one, by asking, “Have you lived here all your life?”/ “Only four years… This store belonged to my wife’s family…”/ Now definitely having some taciturn fun over and above a baseline of the macabre, the stranger, having nearly choked on his gum-drop, asks, “You mean you married into it?”/ Pausing to think about this, the old man smiles and drones out, “You could say that.” As if feeling the ice has been broken, he gently comes back with (a “listen carefully to this one” twist in his voice) in terms of, “What hour do you close?”/ “At dusk.” Definitely emanating tingles of illuminative concentration where, till now, there seemed to be nothing but a black hole, it is the buyer who shifts into a seller’s mode. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, do you? … What time do you go to bed?”/ “Um…about 9:30…”/ “I could come back then…”/ “But no one would be here…” With a game face not without a sprinkling of camaraderie, Chigurh, like a game-show host at getting-to-know-you time, asks, “What’s the most you ever lost in a coin toss?”/ “What do you mean…?”/ “This coin has been travelling twenty-two years to get here…”/ “What could I win?”/ “You stand to win everything… Just call it”/ “I didn’t put nothin’ up.”/ “You been puttin’ it up your whole life, you just didn’t know it… You need to call it.”/ “Heads…”/ “Well done!… Don’t put it in your pocket! It could get lost among the other coins…It’s your lucky quarter!” (more…)

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