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No Country for Old Men (3-Disc Collector's Edition + Digital Copy) - suspense DVD / drama DVD / Academy Award-winning DVD review
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (3-DISC COLLECTOR'S EDITION + DIGITAL COPY) Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: 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 min.
(3 discs)
Format: AC-3, Box set, Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD features: Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround - English, Spanish), Subtitles (English, Spanish, French), The Making Of No Country For Old Men, Working with the Coens, The Diary of A Country Sheriff, Interviews and conversations (Coen brothers, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Digital Copy Download

The year is 1980. In the dusty, unpopulated backcountry of west Texas, a drug deal has gone bad. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) happens upon the aftermath while tracking a wounded deer he was hunting - several bullet-riddled vehicles, people, and dogs. Moss quickly pieces together what happened and guesses that there must have been a survivor, a last man standing who got away from the scene. Moss takes a case full of money and a few guns - doesn't seem like the drug dealers will be needing them. Moss possesses a quiet wisdom that suits him well in the country and the city, though he is dealt a setback by a piece of technology he is unaware of.

Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) is employed by the investors behind the deal gone bad, but he's driven by something else. It's his job to figure out what happened to the money. He's ruthless and brilliant, quickly finding out who took the money; if Moss were less cunning, Chigurh would have had him in the first act. Chigurh does not move quickly. He's got the patience and dead eyes of a shark. When a man working at a fueling station asks a simple question about the weather, Chigurh turns his steely gaze on him, forcing him to choose heads or tails, life or death. Perhaps this is how Chigurh can detach himself from the act, insulate himself from any feelings of guilt, though I'm not entirely sure he's able to feel guilt.

Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) brings up the rear, following destruction Chigurh leaves in his wake. Bell's cadence is similar to the other two men. He sees a lot at the scene of the deal gone bad. He doesn't have time to come out to the crime scene to chew the fat with the feds. When invited, he asks his deputy, "Any new bodies accumulate out there?" "No, sir," comes the reply. "Well then, I guess I can skip it." Bell looks back nostalgically to the time when Texas sheriffs of old didn't need to carry a gun. He knows that he cannot follow in their footsteps, and we suspect that he's had enough of today's criminals.

The film features strong performances by the three leads, but the supporting cast is fantastic as well. Carla Jean Moss, Llewelyn's wife (Kelly MacDonald), plays a strong but soft-spoken west Texas gal like she's lived it (the interview footage included reveals a strong Scottish accent). Gene Jones, who plays the nameless gas station proprietor is excellent at showing his escalating fear of Chigurh. The manager of Moss's trailer park (Kathy Lamkin) turns in a brief scene where she holds her own against Chigurh. The escalating threat level she surely perceives does nothing to crack her will or weaken her voice. In a way, all of these characters would be at home in Raising Arizona or any of the other more quirky Coen brothers' movies, but in a more serious work like No Country, they fit and can almost be overlooked. Their performances are tone-perfect and well played.

This is a fascinating study of three brilliant men. It's a bit frustrating the way things come out in the end, but in this way art imitates life.

Extra features in this 3-disc set may seem disappointing at first look, but don't sell them short. The second disc is chock full of various cast and crew interviews done during promotion of the film's theatrical release. The conversations are fascinating, though - not the usual canned Q&A that you might hear on The Tonight Show, but deeper, more probing questions about character motivation, friendship, and filmmaking. If you love good cinema, there's some real meat here. The digital copy provided is fabulous - now I need never be without one of my favorite movies of the last few years.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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