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No Country for Old Men (2007)

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast overview: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem
Running time: 122 minutes

I'm a big fan of the Coen brothers' films - my favourite is Blood Simple. But this wasn't very far off taking that title. It tells of a hunter - played by Josh Brolin - who stumbles upon a drug deal in rural Texas gone awry and onto more than two million dollars in cash. Naturally, this leads to our antagonist - the menacing Anton Chigurh (Bardem) - attempting to track down the cash, and Brolin's character.

Firstly, Bardem is stunning as Chigurh. He plays a chilling and yet at the same time utterly captivating villain that forms part of the reason why this is such a good film. Certainly one of the best cinema villains of recent years. Brolin is also great - in fact, there's not a bad acting performance here. Tommy Lee Jones, always reliable, gives possibly the most realistic performance of his career, and Woody Harrelson was an underrated and intriguing presence here.

Another thing I picked up on was just how beautiful this film looked. Everything from the Texan desert scenes to the night scenes looks superb. And, as usual, the Coens give a great directing performance. The script, likewise, is filled with the sort of oddities that the Coens have become known for, but it's terrific nonetheless. There are also some subtle incidences of humour.

In short, this is - for me - one of the Coens' best films, combining a great story, script, and solid acting performances with one of the most menacing and intimidating - and memorable - villains of recent years. Recommended.

Anton Chigurh: What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss.
Gas Station Proprietor: Sir?
Anton Chigurh: The most. You ever lost. On a coin toss.
Gas Station Proprietor: I don't know. I couldn't say.
[Chigurh flips a quarter from the change on the counter and covers it with his hand]
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Call it?
Anton Chigurh: Yes.
Gas Station Proprietor: For what?
Anton Chigurh: Just call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Well, we need to know what we're calling it for here.
Anton Chigurh: You need to call it. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair.
Gas Station Proprietor: I didn't put nothin' up.
Anton Chigurh: Yes, you did. You've been putting it up your whole life you just didn't know it. You know what date is on this coin?
Gas Station Proprietor: No.
Anton Chigurh: 1958. It's been traveling twenty-two years to get here. And now it's here. And it's either heads or tails. And you have to say. Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Look, I need to know what I stand to win.
Anton Chigurh: Everything.
Gas Station Proprietor: How's that?
Anton Chigurh: You stand to win everything. Call it.
Gas Station Proprietor: Alright. Heads then.
[Chigurh removes his hand, revealing the coin is indeed heads]
Anton Chigurh: Well done.
[the gas station proprietor nervously takes the quarter with the small pile of change he's apparently won while Chigurh starts out]
Anton Chigurh: Don't put it in your pocket, sir. Don't put it in your pocket. It's your lucky quarter.
Gas Station Proprietor: Where do you want me to put it?
Anton Chigurh: Anywhere not in your pocket. Where it'll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.
[Chigurh leaves and the gas station proprietor stares at him as he walks out]

Llewelyn Moss: If I don't come back, tell mother I love her.
Carla Jean Moss: Your mother's dead, Llewelyn.
Llewelyn Moss: Well then I'll tell her myself.

Carla Jean Moss: You don't have to do this.
Anton Chigurh: [smiles] People always say the same thing.
Carla Jean Moss: What do they say?
Anton Chigurh: They say, "You don't have to do this."
Carla Jean Moss: You don't.
Anton Chigurh: Okay.
[Chigurh flips a coin and covers it with his hand]
Anton Chigurh: This is the best I can do. Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: I knowed you was crazy when I saw you sitting there. I knowed exactly what was in store for me.
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: No. I ain't gonna call it.
Anton Chigurh: Call it.
Carla Jean Moss: The coin don't have no say. It's just you.
Anton Chigurh: Well, I got here the same way the coin did.

In the novel, Sheriff Bell says of the dope-dealers, "Here a while back in San Antonio they shot and killed a federal judge." Cormac McCarthy set the story in 1980. In 1979, Federal Judge John Howland Wood was shot and killed in San Antonio by Texas free-lance contract killer Charles Harrelson, father of actor Woody Harrelson (Carson Wells).

When Joel Coen and Ethan Coen approached Javier Bardem about playing Chigurh, he said "I don't drive, I speak bad English, and I hate violence." The Coens responded, "That's why we called you." Bardem said he took the role because his dream was to be in a Coen Brothers film.

The only film of the 2000s to gross under $2 million in its opening weekend, and later win an Academy Award for Best Picture.


I haven't seen Bad Influence or 10 Rillington Place, but No Country for Old Men is one of my favorite films of the 2000's.

I haven't seen Bad Influence or 10 Rillington Place, but No Country for Old Men is one of my favorite films of the 2000's.
Same here

I should probably get to 10 Rillington Place though, it looks like something I would like, and it's British too. my mum says she saw it and liked it, she thought she had watched it with me as it's apparently like the films I normally recommend

Blue Velvet (1986)

Director: David Lynch
Cast overview: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan
Running time: 120 minutes

You can't say that you come out of a David Lynch film feeling the same as you did before you watched it. For better or worse, his films push boundaries, challenge the viewer, and leave us feeling completely shell-shocked a lot of the time. Having said that, Blue Velvet is possibly his most accessible film, and certainly - in my view - one of his best. It's still got the elements that made Lynch famous, and his idiosyncrasies and quirks are plain for all to see, and there are even subtle nods to his other films (I thought so, anyway), but this is still a film that many audiences could get something from, I think.

The plot itself revolves around a mystery, in true Lynchian style, whereby a young man - played by MacLachlan - finds a severed human ear in a field and begins to investigate, with the initial help of a female friend, how it got there and why. That is essentially the plot, though there's quite a human element to the film. That's the thing with Lynch - he straddles the line between decency and depravity often within a single scene, there's very little black-and-white in his films, and I suppose that's a good thing; it certainly makes his films more open, subjective, and interesting.

Rossellini and Hopper - and MacLachlan, it has to be said - give terrific performances, but it's Hopper who earns the most plaudits. In Frank Booth, he plays one of cinema's true villains; I would say the embodiment of evil but then you're never sure how to take him. He is repulsive and unpleasant, yet strangely alluring, in equal measure, coupled with the oxygen mask-wearing antics that give him an extra dimension. The rest of the cast were fine in their roles - I can't really fault the acting here, and I don't think there are many films you can say that for.

Blue Velvet is a great film, I think. It's stylish, terrifically well-made and well-acted, and has all the hallmarks of the very best Lynch material. Not only do I think there's plenty of scope for repeat watches, but I think it'd even improve the rating for me further. Even so, it's certainly the best Lynch film I've seen so far. Strange but satisfying.

Sandy Williams: I can't figure out if you're a detective or a pervert.
Jeffrey Beaumont: Well, that's for me to know and you to find out.

Frank Booth: What kind of beer do you like?
Jeffrey Beaumont: Heineken.
Frank Booth: [shouting] Heineken? **** that ****! Pabst Blue Ribbon!

Frank Booth: Hey you wanna go for a ride?
Jeffrey Beaumont: No thanks.
Frank Booth: No thanks? What does that mean?
Jeffrey Beaumont: I don't wanna go.
Frank Booth: Go where?
Jeffrey Beaumont: For a ride.
Frank Booth: A ride! Now that's a good idea!

Isabella Rossellini actually was naked under her velvet robe when she did the "ritualistic rape scene", a fact that her partner Dennis Hopper was not aware of, until the cameras started rolling and his co-actor opened her legs for him to kneel between. This scene was the very first time the two of them ever worked together.

Isabella Rossellini claims that during the initial filming of the ritualistic rape scene, David Lynch couldn't stop laughing off-screen at the weirdness of it all. Though she was baffled as to why he was laughing at the time, Rossellini says that to this day, she herself laughs uncontrollably every time she watches that particular scene.

Jeffrey says "I'm in the middle of a mystery" exactly halfway through the film.


Thief (1981)

Director: Michael Mann
Cast overview: James Caan, Tuesday Weld
Running time: 122 minutes

Thief was a film I thought I'd like, given that thrillers represent my favourite film genre, but I found this to be really flat and not particularly engaging. James Caan is a talented actor, no doubt, and I'm a fan of his, but I think he was having to carry this film alone a lot of the time. Having said that, his performance was the best of the lot, which I don't think is saying much. I thought Jim Belushi was very poor, for example.

It never feels like it properly gets going, and when it does become more interesting it's too late as much of what's just happened has already passed you by. Many criticised Tangerine Dream's score - however, I thought that was one of the most interesting elements of the film. The music actually isn't bad - not brilliant, but it's reasonable. The problem was that the music often came in appropriate places, such as during speech, and it all becomes a jumbled, unsatisfying mess. Another problem I had was the dialogue itself - it often doesn't seem to lead anywhere, and half the time it's so mumbled and difficult to hear that it becomes difficult to follow what's happening.

Willie Nelson did a good job, come to think of it, and I think the film could have benefited from his being used more, but again there's too little of the good stuff in this film and too much bad. The mob boss wasn't bad either, if noticeably cliched. But there's not a great deal here to set this apart from lesser crime films, I don't think - it's formulaic and pretty uninteresting most of the time, often bordering on dull. The ending was great - but again it doesn't save the rest of the film.

Thief isn't terrible - I've seen worse films - but it's not particularly good either. Caan was OK, and so were a couple of others in the cast, but unfortunately I didn't find this engaging or very interesting. The music isn't bad but is used at inappropriate times, and I don't agree with some who claim that Mann gave an assured directorial debut here. Surprised as well because I'd been looking forward to watching this for a while and thought I would enjoy it. But there you go, all about opinions...

Okla: Lie to no one. If there 's somebody close to you, you'll ruin it with a lie. If they're a stranger, who the **** are they you gotta lie to them?

Leo: Look. I said ****in' look at 'im! Look at what happened to ya friend 'cause you gotta go against the way the things go down. You treat what I try to do for you like ****? You don't wanna work for me, what's wrong with you? And then, you carry a piece, in my house! You one of those burned-out demolished wackos in the joint? You're scary, because you don't give a ****. But don't come onto me now with your jailhouse ******** 'cause you are not that guy, dont'chu get it, you prick? You got a home, car, businesses, family, n' I own the paper on ya whole ****in' life. I'll put ya **** wife on the street to be ****ed in the ass by niggers and Puerto Ricans. Ya kids mine because I bought 'it. You got 'im on loan, he is leased, you are renting him. I'll whack out ya whole family. People'll be eatin' 'em in their lunch tomorrow in their Wimpyburgers and not know it. You get paid what I say. You do what I say, I run you, there is no discussion. I want, you work, until you are burned-out, you are busted, or you're dead... you get it? You got responsibilities - tighten up n' do it. Clean this mess up, get 'im outta here. Back to work, Frank.

Frank: What are you doing in your life that is so terrific?

After The Godfather (1972), this is James Caan's favorite film of his own. He has stated that his monologue in the diner is the scene he is most proud of in his career.

The burglary tools used throughout the film (such as the hydraulic drill used in the opening sequence) were not props, but actual tools which the actors were trained to use. The tools were supplied by actual thieves who served as technical consultants on the film, principally John Santucci, who also portrays Sgt. Urizzi on screen.

A late starter, Robert Prosky was already 50-years-old when he appeared in this, his film debut.


I think the problem I had with Thief was the thinly written plot. It doesn't really do much in terms of the story, it kind of just takes the most convenient path. For me, it was a case of style over substance. Mann is an awesome director, though. This was just a little bit of a letdown.

Boyhood (2014)

Director: Richard Linklater
Cast overview: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette
Running time: 165 minutes

In some ways, Boyhood is a film unlike any other. Yet in many ways, it's not. It's a film exploring the transition of the protagonist's - Mason - life from the age of five to the age of eighteen. It manages to take what is an innovative concept and turn it into something relatively mundane, though you could argue that the mundanity stems from the concept itself.

Filmed over a period of twelve years, it's a film in which actual character progression seems relatively lacking, in which the acting is often unconvincing and flat, and in which the novelty wears off fairly soon. Once you get the idea that we're essentially seeing the characters growing older on film, you've essentially grasped the film itself. It's also very slow, and overlong. I don't mind long films provided you feel you're actually working towards something. Here you essentially knew the ending at the beginning.

As mentioned, this is a great concept marred by lacklustre execution. There's very little action - and I don't mean action in the obvious sense, but some sense of drama would have been nice rather than over two hours of prosaic, uninteresting and unengaging dialogue. Yes, there are good points - an excellent soundtrack among them - but there are too many issues here for me to give it a good rating.

Samantha: [as the family leaves their house for the last time before moving] Goodbye, yard! Goodbye, crepe myrtle! Goodbye, mailbox! Goodbye, box of stuff Mommy won't let us take with us but we don't want to throw away. Goodbye, house, I'll never like Mommy as much for making us move!
Mom: Samantha! Why don't you say goodbye to that little horseshit attitude, okay, because we're not taking that in the car.

Dad: [Mason Jr. bowls a gutterball] Alright, don't worry about it.
Mason: I wish I could use the bumpers...
Dad: You don't want the bumpers, life doesn't give you bumpers.

Samantha: [after leaving Bill's family for good] Why couldn't we take Randy and Mindy with us?
Mom: Because sweetie, I'm not their legal guardian, that would be kidnapping; it's against the law.
Samantha: Couldn't you talk to their mom?
Mom: I tried their mom, but I can't reach her.
Samantha: Well, what's going to happen to them?
Mom: [starts crying] I don't know...
Samantha: Why are you crying?
Mom: Because I don't have all the answers.

Ellar Coltrane, who plays the boy of the title, was 7 years old when the movie started filming and 18 when it finished.

Richard Linklater cast his daughter Lorelei Linklater as Samantha because she was always singing and dancing around the house and wanted to be in his movies. At about the third or fourth year of filming, she lost interest and asked for her character to be killed off. Linklater refused, saying it was too violent for what he was planning (Lorelei eventually regained her enthusiasm and continued with the project).

The film was shot over 45 days from May 2002 to August 2013.


Bummer you didn't like it more Jack. One of my favorites of the year thus far.
Yeah, it seems to be one of those Marmite films, going by reviews.

Blue Velvet is fantastic. One of my favorite films from one of my favorite directors.

I haven't seen Thief or Boyhood. I have the former recorded and ready to watch. People criticize some films for being style over substance, but I figure it's better to have one or the other than neither. As for Boyhood, despite the unanimous praise, I've worried all along that it might be more about the novelty than the film itself. I generally like most of Linklater's films, though, so I look forward to eventually seeing it. Hopefully I'll like it more than you did.

Goodfellas (1990)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast overview: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta
Running time: 146 minutes

Wow. Fantastic film. From the very start, you know you're watching something special. I obviously knew this was highly regarded as a classic but often I find these films to be not as satisfying for me as they might be for others. Not this one. From start to end, it's a fantastic piece of cinema, and has already placed itself firmly into my favourite Scorsese films - I don't think it's quite as good as Taxi Driver but it's not far off.

The acting is stellar - personally I thought Joe Pesci probably gave the best performance but that's just me. However, all the actors give their all. Liotta held the film together as the protagonist, and reminded me a lot of Di Caprio's character in The Wolf of Wall Street; De Niro was as charismatic and captivating as ever; Lorraine Bracco was surprisingly decent as Hill's wife. I thought Paul Sorvino was excellent as well. Really, I can't fault this film on the basis of the acting, which was flawless.

Scorsese's direction is really terrific. The music is typical Scorsese perfection, the guy has great taste. There's a multitude of memorable scenes and quotes but the whole film holds up well as a look at the mobster lifestyle. Pileggi's script is utterly brilliant. Pretty much everything here is well-done, feeling like a labour of love in essence.

Overall, this is one of the best 1990s films, and not far off being my favourite. Terrific acting, direction, music, and an all-round modern classic.

Henry Hill: You're a pistol, you're really funny. You're really funny.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean I'm funny?
Henry Hill: It's funny, you know. It's a good story, it's funny, you're a funny guy.
Tommy DeVito: What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?
Henry Hill: It's just, you know. You're just funny, it's... funny, the way you tell the story and everything.
Tommy DeVito: [it becomes quiet] Funny how? What's funny about it?
Anthony Stabile: Tommy no, You got it all wrong.
Tommy DeVito: Oh, oh, Anthony. He's a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how?
Henry Hill: Jus...
Tommy DeVito: What?
Henry Hill: Just... ya know... you're funny.
Tommy DeVito: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little ****ed up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to ****in' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Henry Hill: Just... you know, how you tell the story, what?
Tommy DeVito: No, no, I don't know, you said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the **** am I funny, what the **** is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny!
Henry Hill: [long pause] Get the **** out of here, Tommy!
Tommy DeVito: [everyone laughs] Ya mother****er! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning.

Henry Hill: Jimmy was the kind of guy that rooted for bad guys in the movies.

Henry Hill: [narrating] For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a gangster. To me that was better than being president of the United States. To be a gangster was to own the world.

The "You think I'm funny?" scene was based on a story that Joe Pesci acted out for Martin Scorsese. While working in a restaurant as a young man, Pesci once told a mobster that he was funny and the mobster became very angry. Scorsese allowed Pesci and Ray Liotta to improvise the scene. He did not tell the other actors in the scene what would happen because he wanted their genuine surprised reactions.

According to the real Henry Hill, whose life was the basis for the book and film, Joe Pesci's portrayal of Tommy DeSimone was 90% to 99% accurate, with one notable exception; the real Tommy DeSimone was a massively built, strapping man.

The now-legendary Steadicam trip through the nightclub kitchen was a happy accident. Scorsese had been denied permission to go through the front, and had to improvise an alternative.


I've seen that movie three times and each time I can't for the life of me understand what the fuss is about. I guess I couldn't feel anything beyond Scorsese's very calculated direction. There wasn't any warmth.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cast overview: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood
Running time: 160 minutes

This is both dull and incredible at the same time. It's one of the strangest films I've seen - though not in the traditional sense - and it's almost certainly the hardest I've had to rate. Part of me thinks it's perfection, a mesmerising piece of genius, and the other half of me thinks it's tripe, a complete style-over-substance Kubrick mess. In light of that, I've gone smack-bang in the middle, as it seems the best place to put what is a divisive and difficult film. One of the words used in the film's tagline is "epic" - I think even the film's biggest detractors couldn't argue with that, as this is a film that must have required many man-hours and a great deal of effort for it to come to fruition, and it shows in the end product, which is huge in scope.

The music is excellent - Wagner's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" was recognisable to me from the concerts of Elvis Presley, who I'm a big fan of, but you'll have almost certainly heard it anyway, along with "The Blue Danube". Epic in every way, particularly the former. The effects and cinematography are both uniformly excellent. They still look great to this day, which is astonishing considering the wealth of technological advances and improvements.

What does let this down for me is the lack of a coherent story and the pacing issues, not to mention the lack of three-dimensional characters. It can be very slow at times. It's sterile, clinical, cold. There's no warmth here, and I find that can be a feature of several Kubrick films. They're often clinical looks at a certain topic, leading to a complete lack of emotion.

Aside from the good things, however, it's rather self-indulgent. Not a bad film at all, but I certainly don't think it's one of Kubrick's best, or anywhere near as good as it's made out to be. I may come back to this - it seems a film that requires more than a single watch, but it probably won't be in the near future.

Dave Bowman: Hello, HAL. Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dave Bowman: What's the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don't know what you're talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I'm afraid that's something I cannot allow to happen.
Dave Bowman: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, HAL?
HAL: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the pod against my hearing you, I could see your lips move.
Dave Bowman: Alright, HAL. I'll go in through the emergency airlock.
HAL: Without your space helmet, Dave? You're going to find that rather difficult.
Dave Bowman: HAL, I won't argue with you anymore! Open the doors!
HAL: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

[HAL's shutdown]
HAL: I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it I can sing it for you.
Dave Bowman: Yes, I'd like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.
HAL: It's called "Daisy."
[sings while slowing down]
HAL: Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.

HAL: I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

In the premier screening of the film, 241 people walked out of the theater, including Rock Hudson who said "Will someone tell me what the hell this is about?" Arthur C. Clarke once said, "If you understand '2001' completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered."

Stanley Kubrick worked for several months with effects technicians to come up with a convincing effect for the floating pen in the shuttle sequence. After trying many different techniques, without success, Kubrick decided to simply use a pen that was taped to a sheet of glass and suspended in front of the camera. In fact, the shuttle attendant can be seen to "pull" the pen off the glass when she takes hold of it.

The last movie made about men on the moon before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked there in real life. 40 years later, conspiracy theorists insist that this is not a coincidence, claiming that all footage of Armstrong's voyage was a hoax film directed by Stanley Kubrick using leftover scenes and props from this movie.


In a strange way I like 2001. By no means is it as great as it's usually brought up to be, but it's easily my favorite Kubrick thus far.
Have you seen Strangelove?