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Monday, February 4, 2008

No Country For Old Men review - post author Don

No Country For Old Men
Reviewed by: Dr. “Doc” McPhearson

Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen (Based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy)


If you have read any other reviews concerning this film, then I’m sure mine won’t be the first to tell you that this violent flick is a return to form for the Coen brothers, after their wondrously boring “The Ladykillers.” There, they remade a classic, threw in a crew of desperate misfits, and half-as… sorry, kids…. half-butted a heist plot. Yet here, the director duo pulls straight from the pages of the Cormac McCarthy novel a story of such intensity, and yet such profound universal themes, that at times, this film seemed to, at least for me, transcend the genre of ‘thriller.’

Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is a good ol’ boy from Texas who, one day, while out hunting himself some deer, stumbles upon a drug deal gone terribly wrong. Vehicles are abandoned, the money’s gone, the drugs are untouched, and everyone involved seems to be dead. All but one, as Moss soon discovers, finding the poor fellow sitting up in the truck’s front seat, a bullet wound to the chest.

“Auga,” the man asks desperately.

“Ain’t got no water,” Moss replies indifferently.

Forgetting about the survivor for a second, Llewellyn begins asking the same question that you’re probably asking yourself: Where the heck is the money? Why, under the shade of a nearby tree of course. Two million dollars, nestled right into a little briefcase, no strings attached; I mean, after all, everyone who knows about it is dead, right? Right?

Wrong. What first begins as a split decision made on momentary greed soon evolves into a deadly manhunt. Set on Moss’s trail is Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a character that is for sure going to be written down as one of the most heartless villains in cinematic history. A man who decides his victim’s fate upon the flip of a coin toss, Chigurh (or “Sugar”, as Moss dryly calls him) is a living, breathing Angel of Death, armed with an air tank and a cattle stungun, both of which he uses with savage precision. His first objective is the retrieve the money; however, he tends to get bored, and sometimes kills innocents on a simple whim. And as Chigurh’s employers know, another corpse leads to just another complication in this mess…

…Which forces them to hire Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), a cocky bounty hunter who claims to know “everything there is to know” about Chigurh; on paper, he seems like the perfect person to send when you need the reins pulled on a bit. As he’ll soon find out, though, the rider isn’t always as in control of the horse as he may think.

But wait, there’s more. Unaware of all the rest of the botchery that I’ve described above, Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (the wonderful Tommy Lee Jones) is put in charge of investigating the aforementioned drug-deal- gone-bad. Yet, upon discovering Moss’s truck at the scene, the poor exhausted sheriff is involuntarily thrown into the boiling mix as well.

And what results is a picture based around not only devastating confrontations , but also those who stumble upon the gruesome aftermath. Each character resembles a single thread, and when certain threads entangle, no good can come of it. One particular shoot-out between Moss and Chigurh lasts ten minutes, kills two innocents, and spans across a good stretch of an entire rural town, with neither man leaving unscathed.

Seeing as how this is a review for the SimplyScripts website, I would feel weird not mentioning the screenplay. I have to say, after watching the film, I immediately returned home and began reading the book. Sure enough, I soon discovered that, much to my own pleasure, the Coens had done almost a page-for-page adaptation of McCarthy’s novel, while still managing to make the brilliant country-fried dialogue that they are so infamous for mold perfectly into the shape of things. It will certainly, if there is any justice left in the Academy, win Best Adapted Screenplay at the ’07-’08 Oscars.

Everything about this film just works so freakin’ well. From the direction, to the editing, to the cinematography, to the acting (Bardem will almost definitely win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work here), to the home-cooked screenplay that has both the sustenance of McCarthy and the irresistible hint of Coen-pepper mixed in so naturally that it fits like glove. And the ending… at first I hated it. Despised it. But then, upon reflection, I realized, it actually sealed the deal for me; this is not only about blood and money, guns and chase scenes, but also the inevitability of death. “Ya can’t stop what’s comin’,” an old friend tells Ed Tom at one point. “It ain’t all waitin’ up on ya.”

“No Country For Old Men” is a wonderfully powerful novel, a quick enough read, and one that is far more complex than it at first appears. And actually, in some ways, the film version in itself is a provocative piece of literature, to not only be absorbed, but devoured. It is one of the best films of the year, if not the best. I recommend it to anyone and everyone… provided that you’re at least 18 years of age.

10 out of 10
Doc McPhearson

Read more reviews on the Movie Reviews page.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cloverfield review - post author Don

Alas, the Cloverfield script is not available online, yet. However, our own Chism has seen Cloverfield and has a review.


Obviously there’s been a huge amount of hype and mystery around this flick. And I’m happy to say that underneath it all is an absolutely kick ass monster flick. Cloverfield does not disappoint.

The Story:

Pretty much a group of friends are caught in a pickle as a giant monster that seems to have come from somewhere under the sea launches an attack on New York City. Receiving a desperate phone call from the love of his life, Rob (Michael Stahl-David), Lily (Jessica Lucas), Marlena (Lizzy Caplan) and Hud (T.J. Miller) set off to rescue her while trying to evade the skyscraper-sized, enigmatic, seemingly unstoppable creature.

What I Liked:

The performances of the film were very good. No one had any huge acting moments to speak of, because real life doesn’t have very many of them either. What the main actors do is provide very naturalistic performances that pull you into the story. I bought every member of the cast as just an average person. I suppose part of that is due to the writing, which for the most part sounds very natural as well (credit Drew Goddard for that).

The monster absolutely rocks IMO. I’m not going to give anything away, but you do see the monster very clearly fairly often. There are at least a half dozen really good moments, and towards the end of the film you can see it in an extended shot that is both awsome and terrifying. Not only was the idea of the monster very cool, but the visual effects used to create it are very convincing. At no time did the monster or any of the destruction it creates feel unreal.

I was expecting to be thrilled, but I wasn’t expecting to really get scared. Here is a thriller with genuine thrills, and a few guarenteed leaps. There is also a lot of tension in some moments. Director Matt Reeves creates very intense atmospheres in moments of quiet, such as when the group is attacked in the subway tunnels or when they must navigate their way through a tilted apartment building.

The ending, again I’m not going to give anything away, but it is pretty cool. A little depressing perhaps, but I don’t think they could have ended it any other way without it seeming cliched.

What I Didn’t Like:

No film is perfect, and there were some things about Cloverfield that kinda ticked me off. The first and most important is some of the camerawork. For the most part, it works. But there are moments that are a little nausiating, such as the aftermath of a helicopter crash or some shots of our heroes running down the street. The camera shakes from side to side, and up and down. It gets a little annoying. There are also moments where I wanted the camera to be pointed at something happening off screen (monster attacks, explosions, etc.) but it was aimed down at the cameraman’s feet. It was frustrating, I wanted to shout out “turn the camera around, wanker!”

Have you guys ever seen that Siskel & Ebert review of Poltergeist III? For those who haven’t, you should (it’s hilarious). For those who have, I was reminded of the review by some moments in the film. Anytime Rob walks more than ten feet away from the camera, Hud (the cameraman) relentlessly screams “Rob! Rob! Rob, come back! Rob! Rob! Where are you, Rob!” It also was annoying.

Bottom Line:

Cloverfield is a relenetlessly-paced, unapologetically intense experience. There was not a single moment from when the monster attacked that I was not on the edge of my seat. Drew Goddard, Matt Reeves and J.J. Abrams have created a modern classic. I think this film is going to remembered for years to come. An excellent way to start the new year of movies. If you’re looking for something exciting and unremittingly entertaining, then Cloverfield is for you. If you have a weak stomach, or if your nerves fail easily, then you should probably avoid it.



Copyright 2008 (c) Matt.

Discuss the movie.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Submersion, an original script and 19 others - post author Don

The Dramatic/Noir-ish Submersion (107 pages – PDF format), by Jared is the highlighted script this week of the group of Unproduced Scripts posted online. When a college student sees his ex-lover’s boyfriend with another girl, he suspects him of infidelity. As he investigates, he is haunted by his past, failed relationship and slowly spirals out of control before succumbing to his darkest demons. Technically, the script is spot on – formatting, spelling and puncutation are all nailed, so there are no hiccups there. It starts slow and the build is long, though there is a payoff. There is a lot of use of voice overs and dream-type sequences which periodically left me confused where in time and place I was. I was left slightly confused at the end. Did he or didn’t he. You tell me. Not your bag? There are another 19 original scripts over on the Unproduced Scripts page.

30 Days Of NightWe have a couple of new movie reviews up on the Reviews Page. I introduce Dr. “Doc” McPhearson who reviews for us, Rob Zombie’s Halloween. Doc’s review begins with “Trick or Suck!” (which we kinda all knew going into it), but this review really tells us why it sucked. I, for one, am looking forward to this coming out on DVD. I’m looking forward to a compare and contrast night between the two films like I did with The Ring.

In addition, we have a different view of 30 Days of Night. A lot of folks on the Discussion Board liked the film (and by “A lot of folks” I mean one and a half people liked the film). – Don

WGA – Day 7

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