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NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – 2-DISC COLLECTOR’S EDITION (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 6, 2009 by  



“Violent, dark, gripping and an off-humor tone that is like no other.  ‘NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN’ is indeed a Coen Brothers masterpiece!  As for this second Blu-ray release for the film, a new DTS-HD MA audio track, a digital copy plus 5 extra hours of bonus features are included.  This is a true example of a reference release, perfect in picture and audio quality and tons of special features! Definitely recommended and an A+ release!”

Images courtesy of © WDSHE. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – 2-DISC COLLECTOR’S EDITION

DURATION: 122 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-bit), Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles

RATED: R (for Strong Graphic Violence and Some Language)

COMPANY: Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage

RELEASE DATE: April 7, 2009

Directed and Screenplay by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy

Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin

Executive Produced by Robert Graf, Mark Roybal

Associate Producer: David Diliberto

Original Music by Carter Burwell

Director of Photography: Roger Deakins and Carl Shimkin

Film Editing by Roderick Jaynes

Casting by Ellen Chenoweth

Production Design by Jess Gonchor

Set Decoration by Nancy Haigh

Costume Design by Mary Zophres

Cast:

Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell

Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh

Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss

Woody Harrelson as Carson Wells

Kelly Macdonald as Carla Jean Moss

Garret Dillahunt as Deputy Wendell

Tess Harper as Loretta Bell

Barry Corbin as Ellis

Acclaimed filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen deliver their most gripping and ambitious film yet in this sizzling and supercharged action-thriller.  Based on the novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy and featuring an acclaimed cast led by Tommy Lee Jones, this tension-filled game of cat and mouse will shake you to your very core in flawless, heart-stopping Blu-ray High Definition.

Violent, dark, gripping and an off-humor tone that is like no other.  ‘NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN’ is indeed a Coen Brothers masterpiece!

The film is possibly the most ambitious film from the Award winning filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen (“Fargo”, “The Big Lebowski”, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “Raising Arizona”) based on the 2005 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy.  “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won four which include “Best Achievement in Directing”, “Best Motion Picture of the Year”, “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role” and “Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published”.

The film takes place in 1980 in Southwest Texas near the Mexican-American border.  We are first introduced to the Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a sociopathic killer who is arrested by the sheriff and put in handcuffs in a bench right where the sheriff happens to be making a phone call.  You then see Chigurh, who is handcuffed in the front choke the sheriff with his arms and handcuff so tightly that the blood in his next just spurts out, while you see Chigurh’s eyes as if he’s enjoying and relishing every moment of the kill.  Chigurh then escapes with the Sheriff’s car and stops a citizen driving a truck and murders him with a cattle gun.

While driving through a gas station, Chigurh tells the owner of the gas station to make the call “heads or tails”.  It’s Chigurh’s way of chance, if a person gets to live or not.  The coin flip becomes a symbol of Chigurh’s ferocity as a psychopath and instead of making the decision to kill or not, he lets the coin justify if one will live or die.

We are then introduced to Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a Vietnam War veteran who is hunting near the Rio Grande.  While hunting, he discovers a drug deal that has gone bad and everyone has been gunned down.  While checking in the cars, one man says he needs water in Spanish.  But Llewelyn says he doesn’t have any water and proceeds to steal the weapons.  As he searches around the area, he finds a dead man with a suitcase full of money ($2 million dollars).  Llewelyn, takes the suitcase and goes home with it.

As for Llewelyn Moss, the veteran lives in a trailer park with his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald), having hid the money, while trying to go to sleep, the thought of the man wanting water gets to him that Llewelyn goes back to the area to give the man a jug of water.  While he returns, he learns that the man has been shot.  To make matters worse, three men, one being Chigurh has been hired by the drug dealers to find who stole the money.  As a shootout begins, Llewelyn barely escapes but with a few injuries.  He returns back to his home to tell his wife to leave town immediately and both leave town.

Meanwhile Chigurh takes the car registration plate and learns from the drug dealers that the suitcase of money has a transponder that can be traced.  Immediately, Chigurh kills the men who has hired him and he begins his trek to chase Llewelyn.

As Chigurh breaks into the trailer home, he sees that Moss has left town but going through their mail, discovers phone numbers which is traced to Carla Jean’s mother.

We are then introduced to Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones).  The protagonist of the film who is a veteran and a sheriff about to retire.  He is a man that reminisces of the old days when sheriffs never needed weapons and people would fear the sheriff and thus stay out of trouble.  But now with these drug deals and multiple deaths in his area, things are not the same for this sheriff.  He and many other law enforcement people like him who are in awe of how crime has changed and become ruthless is very much shocking to them and this is “No Country for Old Men”.

Throughout the film, the chase is on as Moss tries to travel from town to town with the money (not knowing that there is a transponder built in) but each time he stays in a hotel, he tends to finds a room with a vent and in the process of doing that, ends up getting people in other hotel rooms killed by Chigurh.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Bell has had a few brushes with danger and even comes close to encountering Chigurh but he eventually manages to get in contact with Carla Jean and tells her that he must find Moss before he is killed.  While the chase is on for Chigurh and Bell for Moss, we are introduced to a new bounty hunter/hitman named Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson) who is hired by the owners of the money to retrieve the money from Moss.

So, now Moss is running for his life with many people trying to find him.  Who will get to him first?  Can he be saved or is he good as dead?

The film is a gripping, cat-and-mouse chase movie but with so many character layers, its amazing of how much there is to each character and how much subtle things are happening in the film.   Chigurh’s ability to kill and destroy and seeing him as if he relishes his kills with the exception of when the blood gets on his boots is the only time you see him really giving  damn.

Meanwhile Moss just dug a grave for himself by stealing the money and for Sheriff Bell, perhaps he’s not cut out to be sheriff for these type of criminals that have flourished near the US-Mexico border.

“NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” makes its re-appearance on Blu-ray with a new audio track, five hours of bonus footage and a digital copy.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” is featured in 1080p High Definition with an aspect ratio of (2:35:1).  One thing you will notice is how the colors of the rugged outdoors really pops.  The earth tones and its vibrancy during the day, to the dark black and blues during the night.  I saw no major artifacting or high grain during the low light conditions.

Also, when you see the characters in High Definition, you see the wrinkles, the pores…very detailed picture quality.  Even the people who were shot and killed, good amount of detail in the bullet wounds and showcasing how much detail the crew went into making sure the these wounds look realistic.  There is no denying that the picture quality for “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” is amazing and right up there with the top tier titles.  The backgrounds of Southwest Texas, the multiple colors that showcase the vibrancy of the film, to the dark scenes that exhibit no problems and of course the overall details that you just never think of, are seen quite clearly on this title.

Director of Photography Roger Deakins (“A Beautiful Mind”, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Fargo”, “The Shawshank Redemption”) continues to be one of the top DP’s in the industry and was definitey deserving of an Academy Award nomination for his awesome cinematography.

As for audio, this is where “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” takes a big step up to perfection.  Buena Vista Home Entertainment made sure the new soundtrack for this second version release utilized an English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-bit) track over the PCM version.  And boy, does it make a difference.  If you thought the gun shots as the bullets hiss, the rifle shots, a dogs being shot, vehicles moving, those action scenes alone sound clearer and punchier than the previous PCM track.  The dialogue is clear and there is just a sense of more clearer sound than the PCM track.  Quite frankly, this is the best audio treatment of the film and the last one was magnificent but for this 2-Disc Collector’s Edition, audio is excellent!

And again, the film was definitely deserving for its Academy Award nominations for its achievements in Sound and Sound Editing.  The crew did a wonderful job!

SPECIAL FEATURES:

This second version Blu-ray release of “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” is packed with special features.  From December 2007 to February 2008, television, live, online and radio interviews are presented on disc.  So, the hardcore filmmaker or the fans of the film definitely have plenty of content to watch and listen to.  As mentioned earlier in the review, this 2-Disc Collector’s Edition comes with a new audio track, a digital copy of the film and five hours of special features.  Included are:

  • The Making Of No Country For Old Men – (24:29) A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to create a Coen Brothers’ movie.  Featuring interviews with the Coen Brothers, cast and crew.  Included on the last Blu-ray but nevertheless, very informative and entertaining to watch.  Also, how certain cast members were selected.  Surprising especially when you find out that Kelly Macdonald (Carla Jean) is from Scotland and has a strong, thick accent but played the character of a girl with a Southern drawl quite well!
  • Working with the Coens – (8:07) The cast and crew of No Country for Old Men talk about working with the legendary duo.  It’s great to hear the cast and crew talk about working with the brothers and talk about how they want a certain scene a certain way.  Fun featurette that was included on the last Blu-ray.
  • The Diary of A Country Sheriff – (6 min.) A look at the relationship between Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh and Josh Brolin’s Llewelyn Moss through the eyes of Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones).    A good explanation of how this proud Sheriff who is about to retire notices that he probably is in no league to take on the crimes of today and the types of killers out there.  The days of being a sheriff with no weapons are a thing of the past.
  • Josh Brolin Unauthorized – (9 min.) An interesting perspective of “behind-the-scenes” as Josh Brolin interviews certain cast members and the crew.  A dramatic “behind-the-scenes” featuring the cast members with some sort of an edge.  A very interesting featurette.
  • Press Timeline – A treasure trove of in-depth interviews and conversations with the Coen Brothers, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem—never before available on disc—offering viewers the most comprehensive look ever at the making of No Country for Old Men.   This is where the bulk of the special features are featured and what’s so cool is that some of these are online interviews, live with audience interviews, radio interviews, etc.
  1. Lunch with David Polan (10/25/07) – 26:21 interview with both Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem.
  2. L.A. WGAW – (11/06/07) – 24:13 Q&A Panel featuring the Coen Brothers, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Kelly Macdonald.
  3. Variety Q&A – (11/06/07) – 3:08 Feat. interviews hosted by Brian Lowry with Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Kelly Macdonald
  4. ew.com – Just A Minute – (11/08/07) – 12:55 Feat. interview with Javier Bardem
  5. Creative Screen Writing Magazine –  (11/09/07) – 21:24 podcast interview with the Coen Brothers.
  6. NPR’s All Things Considered with Michelle Norris – (11/09/07) – 4:42 – Radio interview
  7. ABC Popcorn with Peter Travers – (11/14/07) – 14:51 Interview with Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem and Kelly Macdonald
  8. In-Store Appearance (11/20/07) – 40:30 Interviews with Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem
  9. Charlie Rose (11/21/07) 22:33 interview with the Coen Brothers
  10. WBC Reel Talk with Lyon & Bailes – (12/1/07) 10:00 – A fun interview with Josh Brolin
  11. Channel 4 News – (12/16) – 3:45 Preview of the film and brief interviews
  12. KCRW – The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell – (12/19) 28:29 Radio interview with the Coen Brothers
  13. NPR’s Day to Day (1/17) 6:35 Radio interview with Javier Bardem
  14. Spike Jonze Q&A (1/27) 1:00:45 Live audience interview with Spike onze with the Coen Brothers, Director of Photography Roger Deakins, Sound Production and Design Production teams
  15. NPR’s All Things Considered (2/7) 7:44 Radio interview with Executive Producer Scott Rudin
  16. NPR’s Weekend Addition feat. Scott Simon (2/9) 5:32 Radio interview with the Coen Brothers
  • Digital Copy Download

EASTER EGG: Not necessarily a major Easter Egg but on Press Time line, you can select the coin which has the words “Call It Friend O” and the coin will randomly pick an interview.

“NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” is definitely not a film for the weak hearted.  The film has its many layers but I think that Javier Bardem’s excellent portrayal of the psychopath Anton Chigurh is going to ruffle some feathers because of his overall look, his demeanor and his eyes of the thrill of a kill, you can’t help but think how twisted this character is and for certain characters, who encounter Chigurh, you are at the edge of your seat as he wants to determine the fate if they live or die.  It’s twisted and his means of killing and the barrage of violence is not going to make the squeamish any happier.

This is possible the Coen Brothers darkest film.  Granted “Fargo” was a dark film but “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” is well-written, well-acted, well-filmed…it’s the Coen Brothers masterpiece extravaganza.  Dark humor, violence galore but a well-told plot and characters that you want to watch.

For me, the violence was excessive but it was needed.  It was very important to show Chigurh as this psychopath and the level of detail that went into showing those bloody scenes was well done by the crew.

As the Coen Brothers and Javier Bardem did a wonderful job, you also have to give the thumbs up to the other talent.

Josh Brolin being denied an Academy Award nomination was a bit of a shock.  Where many people have not been fortunate to get away from Chigurh, the character of Llewelyn Moss was a constant challenge but you actually felt yourself rooting for Moss for a little while.

Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Bell was portrayed very well.  A World War II Vet and proud Sheriff who is now having to deal with drug deals and mafia style killings, he’s not prepared to take on these type of people.  This is not the same country he lived in before, it’s become dangerous and hence the title “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN”.

I will have to say the shining star was Kelly MacDonald as Carla Jean.  At first, you think that the woman is the token broad at the beginning of the film but her final scenes perhaps is a scene that has left many people wondering what happened to her character.  It’s because her character was able to do something that many of the other characters have not and thus, comes away being someone special.  And I also have to say that I was shocked to find out that Macdonald was Scottish and had this thick accent and to hear hear playing a woman with this Southern drawl was amazing.  Well done!

Many people who purchased the first Blu-ray disc may be asking themselves, is this second collector’s edition worth it?  Absolutely yes!  The new DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is just amazing.  Combine that with already the perfect video, video and audio are just perfect.  The special features also gets a 5 with five hours of interview footage and in depth knowledge behind what the Coen Brothers wanted to accomplish in the film, to hear the talents (with the exception of Tommy Lee Jones) really show their passion towards this film and just very good insight of the making of the film.

So, as much as I hate re-releases especially if they are not long after the previous was released, in this case, I have to say that the release of “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN” was warranted.  For such an incredible and magnificent film, it deserved special treatment and now it does.

“NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN – 2-DISC COLLECTOR’S EDITION” receives an A+ and is highly recommended!

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