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An ambiguous film that leaves much to be desired
This film is about a welder who discovers some drug money and goes on a run from the reclaimers. The film is therefore mainly a warning against greed.

The main character of the film is Anton Chigurh, who goes about his daily business and becomes involved in reclaiming the money stolen by Llewelyn Moss. He is meticulous and patient, being careful never to leave evidence when he kills, and hunts his target relentlessly.

However, he is also shown to be prone to anger, and his philosophy of life, fatalism, is immature and fundamentally flawed. When he talks to the man at the gas station, for example, he seems to get carried away with intimidating the old man to no useful purpose. He also tried to intimidate the woman into giving him Llewelyn's work address to no avail. His conversation with Carson Wells was also rather gloating and did not serve any useful purpose.

The other characters in the story mainly serve as foil to Chigurh's character. Llewelyn Moss is a rather foolish character who decided to steal drug money for himself rather than reporting it to the police. He also does not like talking to people, unless they're hot girls.

The police are incompetent as usual and Ed Tom Bell is clearly suffering from senile dementia as he cannot even remember the stories that he made up just a few minutes ago. His complete failure to capture any of the gangsters pursuing Llewelyn Moss is therefore no surprise. The old men he talks to are usually just as senile as he is.

The story is probably more about senile dementia than anything else, going by its title. The old men in the story reminisce about the "old timers" unable to realise that they ARE the "old timers". They don't do much else.

Whilst the audience might be impressed by Anton's first-aid skills they might do well to remember that this is the same man who tried to use an Uzi as a sniper rifle (when he had a full-length shotgun), and unsurprisingly missed all 12 of his clear shots at a wounded man, and managed to get shot in the leg by his own prey.

All in all an ambiguous film that leaves much to be desired. The fatalistic philosophy comes across as rather pretentious and superficial. None of the characters in the story are competent to any degree, although this is still over 9000 times better than Superman Returns.
It was anti-climactic with a near Wall Banger for a coda, but otherwise awesome.
comment #7066 63.231.137.243 26th Mar 11
It would appear that both commenters do not understand the film's message at all. It's not fatalistic; it's about the darkness of the human spirit and the power of evil over good, and that in an increasingly greedy and self-centered society the most evil actions become unstoppable. If either of you were to read Cormac Mc Carthy's book (or any of his books), you would see that he believes that good ultimately triumphs over evil, and that there is always hope, despite evil having the clear advantage. And no offense, but your "review" appeared to be more about "well, it didn't give us all the answers, and the bad guy wasn't a superhuman hitman, so it's ambiguous and dumb." That's kind of the point. It's not supposed to give answers, nor is it supposed to present the characters as being larger-than-life. Each of the characters is a slave to their motives — Bell is obsessed with keeping order and peace; Moss wants to escape the void of his life; and Chigurh cannot fathom mercy or peace (in the book he states that he cannot allow anyone who opposes him to live, as it runs counter to his beliefs). Your review seems more like a product of Hollywood than an honest review — that is, that you must be provided all the answers.
comment #8064 DoMakeSayThink 11th Jun 11
Forgive me, but your end comment saying it was "9,000 times better than Superman Returns", while true, indicates that you were on the lookout for a very different kind of movie. Your description of the characters seems to have missed the point and drive of all of them - the police weren't incompetent, they were powerless. And yes, the "old timers" fully realised that they are in their twilight years and have no idea how to deal with that.

I'm not having a go, but it's honestly not clear if your review is an attempt at trolling or not. I'm just not sure what your ultimate point or beef with the film was, other than "it purposefully left things vague and I didn't like that".
comment #8068 Grimace 12th Jun 11
Well, it certainly was way better than Superman Returns.
comment #8069 longstreth 12th Jun 11
why don't you do a review Do Make Say Think? you seem to have enough material to make one. And I for one would like to read it.
comment #8655 marcellX 15th Jul 11
"I'm just not sure what your ultimate point or beef with the film was, other than 'it purposefully left things vague and I didn't like that'"

What's the matter with that point.
comment #9078 tublecane 4th Aug 11
"It would appear that both commenters do not understand the film's message at all. It's not fatalistic; it's about the darkness of the human spirit and the power of evil over good, and that in an increasingly greedy and self-centered society the most evil actions become unstoppable"

You can deliver that message and still abide by the basic tenets of good storytelling. Fatalism and darkness don't excuse being anti-climactic, and there's no excuse in the world for an ending that leaves 98% asking, often audibly, "That's it? What was he saying? I wasn't paying attention."
comment #9079 tublecane 4th Aug 11
It would appear that both commenters do not understand the film's message at all. It's not fatalistic; it's about the darkness of the human spirit and the power of evil over good, and that in an increasingly greedy and self-centered society the most evil actions become unstoppable.

Thank you for telling me what I should have seen. I for one didn't see the film that way at all. For one thing, I'm not sure I would consider Anton's character as evil, so much as utterly amoral. Likewise, I also don't think that Moss was quintessentially good. Those labels are overly simplified. I think it leans towards a more nihilistic sort of story, where people meet death or injury without warning, often in a clumsy, or accidental manner. Chance plays a huge role in this story, and it has a far greater influence than "good vs evil".
comment #9082 maninahat 4th Aug 11 (edited by: maninahat)
"I would consider Anton's character as evil, so much as utterly amoral."

Amorality may not be itself evil, but obviously it can make evil possible. Since he doesn't do much that isn't evil, and evil is as evil does, I'd say he's evil.
comment #9628 tublecane 2nd Sep 11
"where people meet death or injury without warning, often in a clumsy, or accidental manner"

When does this happen?
comment #9629 tublecane 2nd Sep 11
You don't need to put every quote in its own comment, you know.
comment #9635 JackAlsworth 2nd Sep 11
"You don't need to put every quote in its own comment, you know."

If this is directed at me, no, I don't know. Because I don't know what you're saying. Every quote in its own comment?

If you mean I don't need to quote something every time I post, I agree. It's only done in response to something specific, so that people will be less confused.
comment #9653 tublecane 2nd Sep 11
@tublecane The protagonist is killed off screen without any warning, due to a chance encounter with the drug lords. Anton appears to win, but receives a serious injury in a freak car accident. Anton is nearly killed earlier during an ambush set up by Moss, only for the ambush to go wrong when Moss is accidently hit by a propelled yale lock. Anton chooses to kill people based on a coin flip.

All of those elements rely on chance or happenstance. Usually, films are structured in such a way as to ensure stuff happens how it should: the protagonist and antagonist build up toward a showdown. They fight. Good guy wins, goes home with the prize, the end. That would have been the case in this story, but random occurances keep getting in the way of that conventional story structure. This suggests the movie is trying to show us that chance has a greater influence on events than being the good guy or the bad. In NCFOM, the bad guy can win if he is luckier than the others. That doesn't protect him from freak car crashes though.
comment #9691 maninahat 3rd Sep 11 (edited by: maninahat)
"The protagonist is killed off screen without any warning"

Yes, and this is the main problem. I want to see it. Instead, I see another character see it. A character whom we will follow for the rest of the movie. A character who has not served to forward the plot, and will have even less motive force now that he is the sole focus of it. The rest of the movie sort of just hangs around, then stops suddenly, which is a problem.

"Anton appears to win, but receives a serious injury in a freak car accident"

Coming after an intriguing scene with the wife, it was exceptionally odd. Dull, still, and tensionless, you might say, despite the shock of the crash. This sort of scene is why people can't decide whether the Coen Brothers are serious or pulling our legs. I wouldn't have a problem with it, so much. Anton was an odd man. He deserves an odd sendoff, and it was fitting for his coin flip philosophy. What I have a problem with is not that it was anti-climactic, which it was, but that nothing else did either.

comment #9967 tublecane 16th Sep 11
"I have a problem with is not that it was anti-climactic, which it was, but that nothing else did either"

That should be "...nothing else was either."
comment #9968 tublecane 16th Sep 11
"Usually, films are structured in such a way as to ensure stuff happens how it should: the protagonist and antagonist build up toward a showdown. They fight. Good guy wins, goes home with the prize, the end. That would have been the case in this story, but random occurances keep getting in the way of that conventional story structure"

This reminds me of how people defend gobbledygook prose in post-modern novels, for instance, as reflecting the confusion of these modern times, man. But that's like killing a gnat with a cannon. Clear prose is a sacred tool, and ought not be sacrificed for cheap tricks. Don't subsume good writing under style for the sake of a particular theme. Not that gobbledygook can't be useful, don't get me wrong. Just not all the time.

Ruminate on how you phrase the following, "random occurances keep getting in the way of that conventional story structure." Why should that happen? The structure is controlled by the author/screenwriter/director, not the occurences. Occurences get in the way of the characters expectations, or the audience's sense of how the plot is progressing. But there's no reason it should touch the underlying structure. That is determined by the rules of aesthetics, how the human brain understands stories, or whatever it is, not the events of this particular story. You can tell a story about fickle fate, frustration, and disappointment without actually disappointing your audience.

Story structure, like clear prose, ought not be sacrificed to theme. It is too important. Climax is only a part of it, but I'd say it is the single most important part. You can periodically frustrate the audience's expectations, and you can leave them hanging to some degree. But you cannot leave them hanging altogether. That is, you cannot pump them up and send them on their way. That leaves too much pressure, which much be released one way or another. In this case, it was by people asking, "That's it?"

The good guy/bad guy confrontation, by the way, is conventional, yes. Clichéd, even. But your bringing it up is a bit of a strawman. That's not the problem here. I don't need to see Moss kill Anton, Anton kill Moss, or for there to be any decisive confrontation between them, for that matter. I would have been fine seeing Moss die the way he did. Only I wanted to see it, which I didn't.

Leaving the confrontation between Anton and Moss' wife, or maybe even Bell's confrontation with the doorknob, as the closest thing to a climax. Not close enough. Add to that Anton's weird non-death scene and the atypical length, tone, and pace of the dénouement, and it was a disappointing end altogether.
comment #9969 tublecane 16th Sep 11
"In NCFOM, the bad guy can win if he is luckier than the others"

This is hardly the only movie where bad guys win, and that wasn't the problem. I'm insulted that anyone can think that's the problem, because it suggests the rest of us want it to be "Transformers," or something.
comment #9970 tublecane 16th Sep 11
"You can tell a story about fickle fate, frustration, and disappointment without actually disappointing your audience." @tublecane: YMMV, coz I was most certainly not disappointed by NCFOM messing with the structure. I have become so familiar with structures now, that most films hold utterly no surprises for me. So when a film comes along that starts winding me up, altering the structure, leaving me hanging, deliberately not giving me what I want when I expect it, I find that very refreshing. I can see how all this might be frustrating to some, but it didn't put me off one bit.
comment #10104 maninahat 20th Sep 11
I gotta agree with maninahat, it's difference so it sucks is not a good argument, it just means it wasn't for you. Besides, YMMV on disappointing your audience since the movie has been highly praised by critics and was liked by a lot of people, though a large part admit on not understanding it so well.
comment #10115 marcellX 20th Sep 11 (edited by: marcellX)
"YMMV on disappointing your audience since the movie has been highly praised by critics and was liked by a lot of people"

I'm almost certain most people who liked it, like me, liked it despite the ending.

"though a large part admit on not understanding it so well"

Yes, and that's a good tip-off that something's wrong. You can write off those, again like me, who said "That's it? What was he saying? I wasn't paying attention," as rubes. Or maybe they're right, and everyone who tricked themselves into liking the intentionally weird ending have bad taste or are just tricking themselves.
comment #10127 tublecane 21st Sep 11
"I have become so familiar with structures now, that most films hold utterly no surprises for me."

This makes no sense to me. What we're talking about is so simple, so basic, that I don't know why you'd even want to be watching drama if you're burnt out enough not to appreciate it. If you find being wound up and left hanging refreshing, why are you watching a movie? The whole reason we watch them, usually, is that they don't leave us hanging. Or, rather, that they leave us hanging in some senses but not the most important ones.

Intentionally leaving people hanging in this manner sounds more like a prank. As if the Coen Bros. were Andy Kaufman, and perhaps they are. That's fine for comedy, but it's death for art. You can take almost nothing seriously and make great art, but not the most basic underlying structure. Paintings cannot look bad, music have no sound, or drama lack a climax. Anything else is against the point.
comment #10128 tublecane 21st Sep 11
"it's difference so it sucks"

Assuming you meant "different," you are wrong. This is not a matter of difference; it is a matter of bad. You cannot tell a story thusly and be good, whether or not it's different. You can't tell a story any which way you like.
comment #10129 tublecane 21st Sep 11
First of all, why do you make so many different posts? but anyway.

The whole reason we watch them, usually, is that they don't leave us hanging, You can't tell a story any which way you like. who says you can't? there are no rules or laws about how you "have" to tell the story, if that was true all movies would be dull and boring by this point due to watching the same things with a different name over and over again, the reason tragedy, comedy, etc. exist is because at some point someone decided to go stray from the usual and went with something different. That in this case you didn't like the result doesn't mean that the director was trying to prank anybody.

You say Assuming you meant "different," you are wrong and You can't tell a story any which way you like. in the same sentence, so I still don't see how I'm wrong if what you've been complaining all this time is that it didn't followed what you consider the norm of story telling (not to mention that, really? grammar complains on tv tropes? and then you go and say tell a story any which way you like).

You can periodically frustrate the audience's expectations, and you can leave them hanging to some degree. But you cannot leave them hanging altogether. it's called Anticlimax go to the link and look at all the other dozens of works that have done the same, like I said, there is no golden rule about how things are suppose to go/be/etc. in a story.
comment #10143 marcellX 21st Sep 11 (edited by: marcellX)
"You can take almost nothing seriously and make great art, but not the most basic underlying structure. Paintings cannot look bad, music have no sound, or drama lack a climax..."

Interesting that you should bring other art forms into it, because other art forms often have a much easier job of toying with structure or conventions. In portrait paintings, for instance, there are many age old established standards that serve to provide the most aesthetically pleasing images, but that doesn't stop people like Picasso coming along and screwing around with the formula. The guy doesn't even put the nose on the right side of the face! How is that for breaking the rules? In music, people are very used to certain devices: 4:4, and cadences, and chords, but there are a number of musicians out there who like to experiment with bizarre time signatures, discordance, or in the case of Cage, silence. Likewise, novels have a huge amount of elbow room for experimentation, so much so that there is often a great deal is lost in the transition from a novel to a film adaptation.

I think that films can afford to go in those directions.
comment #10245 maninahat 24th Sep 11
"it's called Anticlimax"

Yes, I know, that's why I used the term "anticlimactic." Just because a term exists doesn't mean it describes a good thing. I dislike anticlimaxes.
comment #10546 tublecane 5th Oct 11
"but that doesn't stop people like Picasso coming along and screwing around with the formula"

It doesn't, but it does stop people like Picasso from being good, at least in my opinion. But even if he were a great artist and his paintings treasures of the Western cannon, all that would mean is that the standards he defied (perspective, representation, beauty in the old-fashioned sense) weren't ultimately necessary. I'm gonna go ahead and declare climaxes are not like that, and that, contrarily, they are necessary to storytelling.
comment #10547 tublecane 5th Oct 11
"they are necessary to storytelling"

Or, rather, good storytelling. Which is not to say an anticlimax can't be balanced out by the story as a whole. Which in this case it can, since as I said above "No Country For Old Men" is good until the end.
comment #10548 tublecane 5th Oct 11
"or in the case of Cage, silence"

This is the best you got? Cage and Picasso. Yawn.
comment #10549 tublecane 5th Oct 11
" I think that films can afford to go in those directions"

They can, if they don't value the audience not asking "That's it?" when the credits roll. Not that you should always value the reactions of rubes. But in this case, the rubes were right.
comment #10550 tublecane 5th Oct 11
"grammar complains on tv tropes?"

Less a complaint than a hedge. People do complain for a reason, and not just for the sake of schoolmarmish formality. If your meaning isn't clear to me I'm required to guess. Though in this case the assumption was safe, you never know.
comment #10551 tublecane 5th Oct 11
"I still don't see how I'm wrong if what you've been complaining all this time is that it didn't followed what you consider the norm of story telling"

You're wrong because it's not about "the norm of story telling," persay. It's about proper storytelling. "You can't tell a story any which way you like" is not an equivalent argument to "it's difference so it sucks." A more accurate synthesis of my argument would be to say, "It's improper so it sucks."
comment #10552 tublecane 5th Oct 11
"That in this case you didn't like the result doesn't mean that the director was trying to prank anybody."

My suspicion of the Coen Bros. is not based on not liking the ending. It's far subtler than that, and has to do with not only what I didn't like and how I didn't like it, but also what I liked and what I was neutral about. I can't be much more specific than to say, as I summed it up above, that it was weird.

I'm not the only one to take the Coens as unserious and tongue-in-cheek, by the way. It's rather a standard interpretation. The trick is to pin down precisely when they're serious or not, and by what means. Which is certainly beyond my abilities, and probably beyond everyone else's.
comment #10553 tublecane 5th Oct 11
"In music, people are very used to certain devices: 4:4, and cadences, and chords"

I wouldn't place those among the necessary elements of music. Intentionality and the actual presence of organized sound, I would, among others.
comment #10554 tublecane 5th Oct 11
Again, why do you make so many separate posts? still haven't answered that. All it does give a false number of replies count.

"Yes, I know, that's why I used the term "anticlimactic." Just because a term exists doesn't mean it describes a good thing. I dislike anticlimaxes."

I never said that it describes a good thing, and on that note I tell you that just because you dislike it it doesn't make it a bad thing, ever heard of tropes are not bad?. We're talking about story telling, the anticlimax exist, so it is a tool that can be used. please refrain from using logical fallacies.

  • "It doesn't, but it does stop people like Picasso from being good, at least in my opinion. But even if he were a great artist and his paintings treasures of the Western cannon, all that would mean is that the standards he defied (perspective, representation, beauty in the old-fashioned sense) weren't ultimately necessary. I'm gonna go ahead and declare climaxes are not like that, and that, contrarily, they are necessary to storytelling.",
  • "Or, rather, good storytelling",
  • "It's rather a standard interpretation."

You're opinion and likes are not a fact.

If your meaning isn't clear to me I'm required to guess

Except when it's clear is a typo, the incorrection didn't change the idea so it didn't change the meaning. If someone writes "X makes me mad" there is room for assumption as to what kind of mad is he referring to, crazy or angry; if someone writes "aple is good" does it change the meaning of idea because the word apple was incorrectly spelled? - That should be ...nothing else was either. I advice you read Grammar Nazi.

Which is certainly beyond my abilities, and probably beyond everyone else's.

Then why did you stated that they were pranking everyone as a fact.

A more accurate synthesis of my argument would be to say, "It's improper so it sucks."

And my argument was that you are wrong in what you consider improper, that there are various method used, that Anticlimax is a method used, and that you shouldn't condemn something as bad story telling just because you don't like the trope -Just because a term exists doesn't mean it describes a good thing. I dislike anticlimaxes.-

I'm gonna go ahead and declare climaxes are not like that, and that, contrarily, they are necessary to storytelling.

Again Anticlimax, legitimate thing, legitimate writing tool. And I repeat yet again, your opinion is not a fact.

A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.
-Albert Einstein
comment #10571 marcellX 5th Oct 11 (edited by: marcellX)
"This is the best you got? Cage and Picasso. Yawn." I use them because they're famous examples that should be familiar to most. "But even if [Picasso] were a great artist and his paintings treasures of the Western cannon, all that would mean is that the standards he defied (perspective, representation, beauty in the old-fashioned sense) weren't ultimately necessary." I'd say they are generally important to keep to if you want to strike the right chords with people. Art is an evolving, organic process, and many of the conventions are bred out of finding what provides the most satisfactory results. But when a convention is overused, it can produce disatisfaction; people get bored of seeing the same thing, and that is where unconventional sorts such as Picasso or Cage come in, to provide that occasional alternative. We need people to occasionally defy conventions, but conventions exist for a reason.

Could it reasonably be argued that if NCFOM became treasured for its non-conventional story telling, plot devices such as climaxes would also be deemed "unecessary"? Your points hinge on the idea that a climax is a vital, essentially obligatory element to telling a good story. That seems too restrictive to me, and all it takes is a movie like NCFOM to demonstrate that it isn't always that important. I think NCFOM is to story telling, what Picasso is to portaits; breaking established rules to provide an interesting alternative.
comment #10576 maninahat 5th Oct 11 (edited by: maninahat)
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