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'No Country for Old Men' a masterpiece

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By Quninn McCulloch

My Score 4.5/5You may know the Coen brothers, that is, Joel and Ethan Coen, from such films as “Hudsucker Proxy,” “Barton Fink,” “Blood Simple,” “Oh Brother Where Art Thou,” “Fargo,” “Raising Arizona,” well, the list goes on and on. The number of quality films this writing/directing/producing duo has come out with since the 1980s is astounding. Their films have received worldwide recognition, and “A” list talent like George Clooney and Matt Damon seek to collaborate with them. Their latest work, “No Country for Old Men,” shot mostly in New Mexico, is not only a great addition to their ever-growing list of credits, but perhaps also one of their finest works to date.Near the beginning of this film, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) happens upon a heroin deal gone wrong in the middle of the desert. Amidst the numerous dead bodies littering the site, Llewelyn finds a case with $2 million and decides it must be his lucky day. Soon after running with the money, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) shows up to claim the money, only to find that it is missing. This marks the beginning of a ruthless, bloody quest for Chigurh to retrieve the case of cash. Like a cold, unemotional machine who’s only purpose is to judge and take life, Chigurh spares no one in his path. Meanwhile Ed Tom Bell, a sheriff played by Tommy Lee Jones, sets out to unravel the mysteries behind the ongoing murder spree. Each camera shot in this film is meticulously chosen to add to the deeply disturbing undertones of the story. The Coen brothers and director of photography, Roger Deakins, masterfully use long lingering shots and uncomfortable silences to set the film’s mood rather than using a peppering of lengthy dialog. The effect of such styling leaves you in suspense, always wondering what vile bloodbath might be lurking just around the corner.The characters are equally as exceptional as the story itself. Tommy Lee Jones delivers an intense, subdued performance as the soon to retire Texas police officer. Javier Bardem as Chigurh shows us a performance so memorable you will never forget those savage eyes as he takes the lives of his numerous victims.“No Country for Old Men” is reminiscent of movies like “Silence of the Lambs” and “Seven” where psychology plays more of an important roll in storytelling than special effects and gore. The film even slightly resembles one of Hitchcock’s greats, “Psycho,” because of an unusual mid-movie swap of central characters.All around, this movie is brilliantly shot with attention given to every last detail. Reaching well beyond the standard recipes of suspense thrillers, “No Country for Old Men” delves deep into the human psyche and the cold, hard realities of life and death that we mortals face everyday. This movie is a must see, both as a masterpiece from the Coen brother team, and as a standalone example of film making at its very finest. Make plans to see this movie soon; it ends its run at the Reel Deal Theater Thursday.