NOTE: This review is reprinted with the permission of The Furious Romantic, who happens to live in the same brain as Ibiteyoureyes. For a “dueling review” see dailysalad’s post No Country or No Old Men? Pick ‘Em.

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I had been trying to think of a good way to start off a review of No Country for Old Men, and today I found one, courtesy of Peter Travers from Rolling Stone. Says Mr. Travers:

“Misguided souls will tell you that No Country for Old Men is out for blood, focused on vengeance and unconcerned with the larger world outside a standard-issue suspense plot. Those people, of course, are deaf, dumb, and blind to anything that isn’t spelled out between commercials on dying TV networks. Joel and Ethan Coen’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel is an indisputably great movie, at this point the year’s very best. [It is] a literate meditation (scary words for the Transformers crowd) on America’s bloodlust for the easy fix. It’s also as entertaining as hell, which tends to rile up elitists.”

Despite having what Mr. Travers might call a “more or less well-guided soul,” I was fairly pissed off by his use of such fightin’ words as “deaf, dumb, and blind.” I was greatly pissed off by the last sentence of the previous excerpt: “It’s also entertaining as hell, which tends to rile up elitists.” While Mr. Travers is entitled to his opinion, there are a few problems with taking a swipe at both the “misguided souls” of the film watching community and the “elitists” of the film watching community…in the span of a few sentences.

  1. It sort of implies that only a small group of really special people (super-elitists with well-guided souls?), led by Mr. Travers himself, can truly appreciate this movie.
  2. It puts the writer in the difficult position of defending an indefensible point (an opinion) from two fronts: The Stoopids is gonna yell at you in between commercials on their dying TV networks, and the Snark-Attackers are going to band together at the local bar to get drunk and skewer you…in between being clever and complaining about society and the misfortunes of their lives…before then setting off to the local indie theater to watch unentertaining movies films! full of pauses and poetry.

It’s a good thing Peter Travers is completely wrong when he says that No Country for Old Men is an indisputably great movie. I dispute, home skillet. I dispute. No Country for Old Men is a good, but ultimately disappointing, movie.

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A Bright and Sunny Post

December 13, 2007

I was riding the good old New York City Subway a few days ago when I came face to face with a scary looking character. This character was a man of average height and build, his clothes and his face both appeared slightly worn, and his eyes were swollen and about as red as his jacket. The jacket was old and too big for him. He had a beard, too, which needed a trim, and his hair had needed cutting two weeks ago. He looked tired and he looked beat and at the same time I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him snap or explode then and there.

This scary looking character was me. My reflection in the train window.

Part of the damage was done by insomnia. There’s really no describing the effects that prolonged sleeplessness can have on a person. The best explanation that I can come up with: it gives you a taste of insanity. Real insanity. Not pleasant. Insomnia bites my eyes.

The rest of the damage is less easy to explain. I don’t think it’s separable from the insomnia. It shows up with relative frequency, and is the result of an ongoing beating that I’ve unfortunately gotten a little too used to taking. This is the beating of artistic circumstance. I am a writer, and there’s no changing that. There’s no arguing against it, there’s no fighting it. There’s no being anything else.

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