About Czar Carbonel

google reader advocate self-diagnosed hypergraphic muser of the mundane

No Country For Old Men (2007)

After having watched Big Lebowski, True Grit, No Country, and Fargo – all by the Coen Brothers – I understand better what draws me to their films: the stories and characters. What’s interesting is that most are actually film adaptations; so for the plot, credit goes to the authors. Still, props to the Brothers for always picking the sincerest stories and translating them perfectly into moving and talking pictures.

I digress, this should’ve been notes for No Country.

Read the plot here.
Watch the trailer here.

Simply put I like No Country because it was so close to reality, that it defied conventions of common movie plots (as summary, see Norbert Nox’s answer in Quora here – I agree to every letter).

But I shouldn’t think that the best fiction are closest to reality. An interesting article from the blog Overcoming Bias on Biases of Fiction supposes that “fictional folk are more extreme than in reality” because they need to convey the story, so as not to leave the audience second guessing. Thus fictional personalities are much more colorful, more expressive, and their motives are clearer.

Perhaps the Brothers have their way of balancing their characters’ saturated personalities with an anti-cliche plot. Ex: Anton Chigurh was a single-minded hitman, and I must agree that his personality was a bit extreme compared to reality. But him killing Llewelyn Moss and wife is anti-cliche as hell.

Anton Chigurh: Anywhere not in your pocket. Where it'll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.

Anton Chigurh: Anywhere not in your pocket. Where it’ll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.

You would also think that central to No Country’s plot is the money chase, but the film ends with no resolution on where the money went. Plus the chasee dead, and the chaser is I don’t know where. Was knowing where the money went important in the first place? Perhaps you could fill me in.

Then we get a closing shot of the Sheriff and his dreams about his Dad… Perhaps the chase scenes are just filler stories, and this is really about the Sheriff and his dad. Awesome analysis from Quora on what his dreams meant here.

I haven’t read the book so I’ve no persopective on what the author really wanted to convey. Nonetheless how the Brothers told the story was elegant, starting with the Sheriff’s sentimental monologue, and closing the film with him too, like a neatly wrapped gift.


My Blueberry Nights (2007)

This Christmas I wished for my Exchange Gift Angel to download and burn me these movies I don’t have time and disk space to torrent. She fulfilled my wish (Thank you!), and now I have 20 movies to watch.

So far I’ve watched Mirror Mirror (Tarsem Singh), No Country For Old Men (Coen Brothers), Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson), and Fargo (Coen Brothers). And I’ve given up on My Blueberry Nights (Wong Kar Wai) and The Green Hornet (Michel Gondry).

Why I gave up on My Blueberry Nights? I found it slow and dragging.
Perhaps Wong Kar Wai was just being faithful to his style, but unlike his other films, the slow, steady treatment does not suit this story. Or the story does not deserve that glamorous of a cinematography, when in the first place it’s lacking in emotional depth.


Lizzie’s motivation feels too artificial and contrived. It lacked a backstory that should have helped the audience understand and empathize about her condition. Thus I did not understand all the fuss about her soul searching via a road trip.

Unfortunately for me the film did not possess the charm and genuineness of his other films. It’s just not my cup of tea?

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

First off, thank you, Prometheus (2012) for the subtle film recommendation.

Watching it for 3 1/2 hours was well worth it.

Needless to say, it is classic and epic in many levels: story, performance, cinematography, score. Everyone knows this. It won the Best of Frickin Everything in its year of inception!

What was personally remarkable for me was the idea of selecting the story of T. E. Lawrence, a British Army officer, as film plot. The thought was special and, in a way, daring because they must have known that this film will be talked about and it would make such an impact in the industry.

And I liked how the film makers picked out the most eventful and “theatrical” scenes of his life. It painted a poignant story, starting the film with his death, and ending it with an order to go home.

It’s a cool film. Watch it.

Link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQA_ldX0VI0

Midnight in Paris (2011)

It was not bad, but it was not remarkable either. Sorry.

It was too cheesy — all of the most iconic artists in the 20s come by at the same party at the same time? Really?

And too cliche — Of course the protagonist should be a struggling novelist who had an awesome hollywood scriptwriter career he was leaving behind. And the whole story set prior to a wedding to an exasperating wife and in-laws to-be. And all this was happening while he was getting all enamored by Paris and its cliches, including a time machine horse carriage.

Masyadong madaming cliche, pare.

Perhaps it’s not the film for me. Watch if you like.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atLg2wQQxvU

True Grit (2010)

Crisp like a true Coen Brothers movie.

This was a remade adaptation, but (as per wiki) it stayed more true to the novel adapted vs the first True Grit.

I must attribute the brilliant story to the novel writer, Charles Portis
and the brilliant story-telling to the film makers — It came alive and breathing and kicking in a beautiful fitting cinematography.

Also, the young child actor Mattie is a star.

It’s a cool film. Watch it.

Link to the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUiCu-zuAgM

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Yes, there was blood.
It would not be the type of film I would typically rave about, but I think it deserves a spot in my list of all-time favorite films. That’s how bloody good it is.

The setting (late 1800s-early 1900s, america, oil industry) reminded me of a subject from x years back: Econ 163 Game Theory, specifically the prisoner’s dilemma oil cartels case study. And it made me research about cartels again and Standard Oil. /geek

Back to the film!

I think more than anything, it was able to capture how capitalism breeds greed… And it showed fantastic personas who perfectly showcased this aspect of capitalism.

Some things I liked:

  • That the plot revolved around a flawed, dysfunctional main persona (Daniel Plainview) and his greed for power and money (capitalists are outright greedy)
  • And: Eli, the “prophet” who I think is greedy himself (preachers who are not outright greedy, but still are)
  • And again film captured this tug of war for power

And the awesomer things:

  • Acting. Like Daniel and Eli and everyone else are real.
  • Audio. It was eerie, and it fit the film perfectly.
  • Set design. Colors. Cinematography. Fucking! Breath-taking!
  • The way the story was laid down. You just know the flow was well thought out off. Ex: Daniel’s oil drill “pitch” speech for the townsfolk was done twice. You wouldn’t understand it the first time, but you will the second time, after the film giving context. Then you would appreciate the first one more. (Do I make sense Hehe)

It’s a cool film. Watch it.

Link to the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3THVbr4hlY