Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting TANEWS to 80360, or email
No country for old men
To steal a thought from T S Eliot, there has been "a perfect conspiracy of approval" directed at the film version of Cormac McCarthy's novel No Country For Old Men.
Bradford's own National Media Museum billed it as February's Film of the Month. Barry Norman thinks it should get the Oscar for Best Picture. Virtually every film critic has said the same, with few variations.
I read the book before seeing the film. I wanted to like both but didn't. Whose fault was that? Could have been mine; I wouldn't claim to be the Kenneth Tynan of film criticism.
The book irked me for various reasons. The absence of speech marks struck me as stylistically pretentious - even James Joyce used a dash to indicate speech.
McCarthy clearly intended to depict a remorseless picture of Godless America in the shape of psychopathic killer Anton Chigurgh, but the author's loving description of the wide variety of killing machines to hand betrayed a festishistic obsession with weapons of massive dstruction.
The Cohen brothers film is pretty faithful to the book in that neither give a clear impression of what's going on. The reader and the viewer are left to puzzle out plot and motive. This is rough, tough Texas where everything is on the borderline.
Including the book/film's credibility.
In spite of a multitude of murders right from the start, including the strangling of a county police officer, there is a startling absence of either reporters or seriously armed SWAT teams. Yet this is supposed to be America, land of television. Not one camera can be seen.
The movie - beautifully filmed - disconcerted me for another reason. The killer is played by Javier Bardem. With his big mesmeric eyes and sweep of dark hair he reminded me of Leonard Cohen circa 1968. Everytime he lowered his weapon to blast somebody to kingdom come (in the book he shoots them in the face) I half expected him to burst forth into "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye."
At the end of the film I asked myself if I would sit through it again - as I had The Counterfeiters (three times), The Lives of Others (three times) and even Americxan Gangster (twice). The answer is no. I doubt if I'll read the book again either.
Neither the film nor the book merit the title quote from W B Yeats' fine poem Sailing to Byzantium. To my mind the best book and movie pairing is Elmore Leonard's Western Hombre. The under-rated 1967 film, starring Frederic March, Diane Cliento, Paul Newman, Martin Balsam and Richard Boone, is even better.
In this section
- Team responsibilty
- Cooking challenge
- Tank's for nothing
- Another voice of my childhood silenced
- Why should cheap shops get such a pounding?
- View from a Hill not looking too good
- Not wild about Harry coming home
- A bit of Pickles is what this place needs
- A Brit for Kylie? She should be so lucky
- Bat's entertainment