Sunday, November 11, 2007

No Country for Old Men (this blog entry contains no spoilers)

(This is Mary writing.)

There's no doubt that the movie "No Country for Old Men" is going to be represented somehow at the next Oscar ceremony.

What's interesting to me is why.

People will probably cite the writing--the dialogue is superb, nearly sublime in places. They'll discuss the acting--a beautifully delivered script by every actor on screen. They'll note the cinematography and the editing, both phenomenal.

But what's most interesting to me, the morning after (and that's how you'll feel if you see this movie), is one of the main themes: pessimism, and the belief that nothing you do can stop a negative force that has, seemingly, taken control of everything--society as a whole as well as individual human beings' spirits.

There have been many, many war-related, Iraq-related, politically charged movies this year. I can think of a few right off the top of my head: "Rendition," "Lions for Lambs," "In the Valley of Elah," among many others.

But for me, "No Country for Old Men"--which makes only passing reference to traditional war--does an excellent job of showing, and making us feel, the strong sense of pessimism and resignation that grips our country right now. I have not read the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, but it's no surprise to me that it was published in 2005. This is a contemporary story set in 1980, another time when the mood in the U.S., you'll recall, was not exactly stellar.

What's sad to me, though, is that even I, optimistic almost to a fault, feel like this country is headed downhill fast. There comes a point when the laws of gravity take over.

No one running for president has convinced me in the slightest that they have what it takes to right this democratic ship that has gone so far off course. (Jeff here - I will add one qualification to this statement, that there is no one running who has the leadership to fix things AND who has a chance of gaining a nomination, much less prevailing in the general election. I say this because I have very high admiration for Dennis Kucinich, but he is not a multimillionaire - and lacks flair or quirkiness that gets the attention of media types who hype campaigns like horse races, ignoring all but the frontrunners from the very beginning)

I continue to hope--yes, hope--that I am wrong. I don't want to believe that I, too, am as pessimistic as the creators of "No Country for Old Men." But hope is fading, and fast. Can someone convince me otherwise?

P.S. - Mary and I did get a chuckle from one scene, in which Josh Brolin wears a green Templeton Eagles jacket. His father, James Brolin, has had a ranch near Templeton for quite a few years and I understand Josh has visited frequently. No one without a connection to SLO County will notice, but it was a nice surprise.

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