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Finally got my butt into the theater to see consensus American movie of the year “No Country For Old Men” (I hope to see what appears to be #2, There Will Be Blood, sometime this weekend), and I’ve got some thoughts. If you haven’t seen it, you may possibly be spoiled if you read too much. All six of you.

I really enjoyed it, it’s visually quite stunning. While the story of the average Joe in over his head against a ruthless, psychopathic criminal is nothing new, I think what gives the movie its heft and meaning is the excellent job the file does of evoking the legend and majesty of American West as the backdrop for modern-day savagery. The source material by Cormac McCarthy needs to be credited for that as much as the stunning cinematography.

Also, there’s never not a moment of dread and anticipation in the film once it gets going, even in its calmer scenes. That’s always impressive to me in this day and age when it’s pretty hard to find new ways to keep people on the edge of their seats. The performances are all very good.

The bad news: the ending. While I didn’t hate the ending, and may have a bead on what they were trying to do, I’m not sure if it was the best ending. Having Tommy Lee Jones tell a story about meeting his dad in his dreams probably was meant to continue the theme about the reality versus the legend of the West (it’s just as savage now as ever, there just isn’t any varnish of faded memories on it now) and kind of works.

The final scenes involving Anton Chigurh, and whether he spares the widow of Llewelyn Moss, the ensuing random car accident and interaction with two youths much like Moss’ earlier in the film…I don’t know. I guess it was trying to show that a psychopath has no choice in his fate, it is just who he is, and he’s like the coin flip…wherever it lands, the decision is made for him. Not really sure it worked. But it has engendered discussion, and for a movie to do that after you leave is never really a problem.

So, overall, I can see why many consider it the yeatr’s best movie. I just haven’tt seen enough films this year to say it is, but it doesn’t seem particularly irrational to me.  I definitely classify it as “worth seeing”.

Note: At some point, my buddy Joe and I will make up alternate absurd endings for this movie. It’s been a tradition of ours since we saw “Million Dollar Baby” and amused ourselves for hours afterwards by creating alternate endings. The clear winner in that one, by the way, was Joe’s scenario where Morgan Freeman winds up stealing Hillary Swank’s insurance money from Clint Eastwood and says “…and that why she was my Million Dollar Baby.” Then of course, fade to credits.

Or maybe you had to be there. In any case, next time I see Joe, we’ll do the same, and I’ll share the results with you.

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