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Javier Bardem Is the Ultimate Bad Ass

No Country For Old Men
courtesy of Paramount Vantage

The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid ... I always knew I had to be willing to die to do this job. But I don’t want to push my chips forward and meet something I don’t understand. You can say it’s my job to fight it but I don’t know what “it” is anymore. More than that, I don’t want to know. A man would have to put his soul at hazard…”

 - Sheriff Tommy Lee Jones in No Country for Old Men

Greetings and salutations* my pretties …

Speaking of a measure that’s hard to take, with last week’s Golden Globe noms heralding the start of the ‘07 awards season, it looks like the race for Best Picture is coming down to a photo finish between one Titanic-esque romantic thoroughbred (Atonement) and a slew of other ball-busting, bad ass hombres like American Gangster, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. Not that I give a whale’s vagina* who wins (9 out of 10 classically trained chimps can see Atonement has Oscar pedigree), but don’t you know the ghosts of Sam Peckinpah, John Sturges and Sergio Leone are sitting in a bar in the seventh concentric circle of hell, threatening to ride roughshod back from the realm of the dead to vote for one of the Western throwbacks in the running?

No Country For Old Men
courtesy of Paramount Vantage

No Country for Old Men

Believe it or not, two Westerns of this caliber (There Will Be Blood & No Country for Old Men) have never been nominated for an Oscar in the same year (look it up) so come early February, you and the Ghosts Of Westerns Past best recognize. As it stands today, Poppa H is casting his ballot for the only film in 2007 that put my soul in hazard’s way, the Coen Brothers/Cormac McCarthy neo-noir Western masterpiece No Country for Old Men

Like Straw Dogs, Once Upon a Time in The West and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, No Country is a throwback to the way films were made in the old days, doesn’t that mean anything to you? No? Psshaw … It’s a damn fine cup of movie* that digs into your guts like a crowbar-wielding, depth charger of Peet’s espresso—get with it cinephiles. Don’t you know a bonafide masterwork when you see it, sure you do. Mark MRF’s words: it will prove as endearing as the John Huston classic Treasure of the Sierra Madre, another Western about the corrosive power of greed, because of it bends your mind into a hard-boiled pretzel before blowing it all away. Hyperbole? What the hell you talking about Willis …*

No Country For Old Men
courtesy of Paramount Vantage

Those Coens Have That Cormac McCarthy Feeling In Spades *

Like virtually every Coen Brothers flick, No Country begins and ends with a botched crime. At the scene is Tommy Lee Jones, a disillusioned sheriff who can’t reckon the motives of a psychotic hipster hitman who’s hunting a hump named Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) that just so happened upon two million in drug money and was stupid enough to think he could outrun it’s rightful owners. 

How we root for the Running Cowboy to prevail, especially us rowdy Texans in the balcony who can appreciate Llewellyn’s moronic bravery in the face of insurmountable odds (see The Alamo, Armageddon, Young Guns 1-4). All the Riverboat Gambler wants is to make a better life for his Wal-Mart employed wife. And what Texan hasn’t gone jackalope hunting only to stumble on a stack of bullet-riddled corpses and a briefcase full of stolen money? Shit amigo, I did five or six times before I fled the state, but that’s another ball of yarn.

No Country For Old Men
courtesy of Paramount Vantage

The Ultimate Hombre

As for the “evil” that Sheriff Tommy doesn’t understand … he means Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh (pronounced “sugar”) a coin-flipping, coda loving, cold-blooded hitman who lulls his victims to sleep with a strange Dutch-boy haircut then whacks them to hell with an air-compressed cattle gun. What stuck with me after the movie, other than the fact I made it out of the West Texas desert alive, was the demonic look on Chigurh’s face as he strangled that rookie cop in the first scene. Fuck me. It’s as freakish a glimpse into the eyes of a killer as I’ve seen since Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet and Killer Bob in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. “What is he supposed to be, the ultimate bad ass?” Brolin’s Moss mutters while recovering in a Mexican hospital after a run-in with the Reaper. Uh, yeah, something like that, guy. 

If you can’t get up for a gut-wrenching thriller from the Coen Boys that’s the film equivalent of a head-on collision with the Angel of Death while driving a 1979 Chevy Big 10 Truck with dueling combustible gas tanks, then you’re in bed with the wrong blogger friend. Let me guess, you got lost and ended up at Reel by way of the Social Studies page? Yes? Jesus H. Christ …* You metrosexuals are all so god damned predictable ...

Until next week, this is Poppa Huckleberry signing off. Be bad and get into trouble baby…* MRF

Gritty Western Picks to Click
•    Lone Star (1996) Dir. Sayles
•    Bad Day At Black Rock (1955) Dir. Sturges
•    Once Upon a Time in The West (1969) Dir. Leone
•    Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) Dir. Peckinpah
•    The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Dir. Huston

Happenings Round Town
•    Atonement (2007) Dir. McEwan – Clay
•    I’m Not There (2007) Dir. Haynes - Embarcadero
•    Romance and Cigarettes (2005) Dir. Turturro – Lumiere

Episode 44 Footnotes
•    “Greetings and salutations.” – Heathers (1991): Christian Slater doing his best Nicholson impersonation to a monacle-lovin’ Winona Ryder
•    “Its a fact, it’s the greatest city in the history of mankind. Discovered by the Germans in, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means, a whale’s vagina.” – Anchorman (2004): Ron Burgundy breaks out his A material on his first date with Veronica Corningstone.
•     “Jesus H. Christ …” – Murder by Death (1976): Miss Withers passes gas at Truman Capote’s dinner table then blames it on the blind butler.
•    “Hmm …You know, this is, excuse me, a damn fine cup of coffee.  I’ve had I can’t tell you how many cups of coffee in my life and this … this is one of the best.” – Twin Peaks (1990): Special Agent Dale Cooper digs on the cup of Joe served at the Great Northern Hotel, and then some.
•    “What the hell you talking about Willis?” – Different Strokes (1982):  Gary Coleman dresses down Willis in the Unrated DVD Director’s Edition.
•    “We don’t gotta tackle the world our first time out. The important thing is we all have that Barton Fink feeling, but since you’re Barton Fink, I’m assuming you have it in spades.” – Barton Fink (1991):  Hollywood Honcho based on David O. Selznick greets his new wunderkind screenwriter from Broadway.
•    “Let’s get into trouble baby.” – Tapeheads (1988): Soul Train host Don Cornelius (as Hollywood Producer Mo Fuzz) to upstart filmmakers Tim Robbins and John Cusack.