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No Country for Old Men (2-Disc Collector's Edition + Digital Copy) - Blu-ray DVD / thriller DVD / Academy Award-winning DVD / Oscar-winning DVD review
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (2-DISC COLLECTOR'S EDITION + DIGITAL COPY) Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 5 stars
Featuring: Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson, Tess Harper
Director: Ethan and Joel Coen   Studio: Miramax
DVD release: 07 April 2009   Runtime: 122 minutes (3 discs)
Format: AC-3, Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (English - DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround; Spanish - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (English SDH, Spanish, French), 1080p/AVC MPEG-4, The Making of No Country For Old Men, Working with the Coens, The Diary of a Country Sheriff, Josh Brolin's unauthorized behind-the-scenes, Q & A with Joel and Ethan Coen, Roger Deakins and the sound and production design crews, Charlie Rose (featuring Joel and Ethan Coen, Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem), EW.com "Just a Minute...With Javier Bardem," Variety screening series Q & A, In-store appearance with Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin, ABC "Popcorn" video, Channel 4 News - Joel and Ethan Coen appearance, Lunch with David Poland - IKLIPZ (Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin interview), WNBC Reel Talk with Lyons & Bailes - Josh Brolin, La WGAW Q & A panel, Six additional audio interviews

When I saw No Country for Old Men for the first time, to quote Sherriff Bell, "It certainly made an impression on me." Even though it went on to win Best Picture, there also was somewhat of a backlash against it - some said the film was overrated and that its controversial and ambiguous ending was more pretentious than effective. Having just revisited the film through the new and extremely impressive Blu-ray edition, I have decided my first impressions were correct. It is a masterpiece, one of the best films of the past few years and one that will be remembered for a long, long time.

The setting: West Texas, 1980. A poor welder named Llewellyn Moss, while out hunting in the middle of nowhere, stumbles across the aftermath of a drug deal gone horribly wrong. It is a total massacre ("They even shot the dog," a deputy proclaims), yet Moss realizes one vital cog is missing: the money. Later he finds it, in the arms of a corpse under a shade tree: nearly $2 million in cash. Moss makes one crucial mistake: out of guilt, he tries to bring water to the lone survivor of the massacre -and puts one Anton Chigurh on his trail. The rest of the plot I will not reveal for those who have not experienced it yet.

Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is now considered one of the greatest movie villains in recent memory, on a par with Hannibal Lecter and Heath Ledger's Joker. Seriously. With his oddly creepy Neil Diamond haircut, pale skin, black eyes and gravely voice, he at first seems like death personified. His weapon of choice: a cattle stun-gun, which shoots a bolt forced by compressed air into his victims, then out again.

Seeing the film again, it's also quite clear that he is all too human as well, which somehow makes him even more frightening than if he were simply a specter. Chigurh is heartless, evil and cruel in our world, yet loyal to a perverse moral code that is all his own. He is single-minded in his pursuit of Moss and the money. Nothing and no one else matters in the least to him. Woe to anyone or anything that is in his way. (Note: In re-watching the film, I was struck by the notion that Chigurh would be perfectly content if he were the last man on earth. It seems to pain him to have to waste a second of his life bothering to talk to these humans. The only times he smiles that horrible smile of his is when he knows he's about to exterminate one of them.)

Brilliant images and moments are abundant in this movie. Without giving anything away, I want to highlight some moments to look for if you are fortunate enough to see this movie for the first time:
  1. the desolate yet beautiful landscapes of the West Texas desert throughout the film;
  2. the thrilling and terrifying chase scene between Moss and a pit bull;
  3. the brilliant dialogue between Chigurh and an elderly gas station owner, in which both know, without saying, that a coin toss will determine the old man's fate;
  4. the near encounter between Moss and Chigurh in the cramped bedroom of an old hotel;
  5. the way the film repeatedly uses images such a boots on the ground, shadows, animals and small portals (such as blown-out keyholes) to advance the story;
  6. Woody Harrelson's acting during a fateful encounter; and
  7. the haunting soliloquies delivered by Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) at the beginning and end of the film.
I could go on, but I don't want to reveal too much. Some will see it and hate it, but I must recommend this movie. This film haunted me, which only a few movies do. It is scary, suspenseful, sometimes funny, beautiful to look at and, at times, moving-in short, anything I could ask for in a movie.

Regarding the Blu-ray, this copy joins The Dark Knight as the best two Blu-ray discs that I have seen.

The amazingly stark and beautiful images in this film, from the desert at sunrise to the shadow of a man against a hotel room wall, beg for a high quality HD print, and they get it here. The Blu-ray truly highlights the fantastic work of cinematographer Roger Deakins.

Other notable Blu-ray features are a digital copy of the film and well over two hours of additional features on the film, more than anyone who is a "geek" for this film could hope for.

Three "making-of" features were included on the original DVD:
  • The Making of No Country for Old Men
  • Working with the Coens
  • The Diary of Country Sherriff (focus on the story through the eyes of Sherriff Bell)
Exclusive to the Blu-ray:
  • Josh Brolin's tongue-in-cheek "unauthorized" behind-the-scenes video
  • Three different Q&A sessions with cast and crew at various film festival screenings
  • Five different promotional interviews conducted for various TV and online productions, including EW.com, "The Charlie Rose Show," and ABC's "Popcorn."
  • Six additional audio interviews conducted for NPR and other radio stations
In truth, the extras are so abundant that they are almost overkill - as well as redundant: the cast and crew often answer the same questions over and over again (such as Bardem continually having to respond to questions about the infamous haircut). It's still enjoyable and insightful to see the rather reclusive and mysterious Coens fielding questions about their work - although understandably, they prefer not to have to explain the film in great detail and would rather have the work speak for itself).
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reviewed by Trent Daniel
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