11/22/2007

No Country for Old Men / Beowulf

Because it's getting late and I'm full of wine and turkey, I'll be brief:

No Country for Old Men is absolutely amazing. Perhaps the Coen Brothers finest movie ever. For me, It's right up there next to Fargo and Miller's Crossing. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem deserve Oscar nominations for their performances as Llewelyn Moss and Anton Chigurh, respectively. Moss being the poor dumb schmuck who stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad and $2 million in cash and Chigurh being the psychopathic killer loosed upon him.

It's such a minimalistic film. Very dark, very bleak. No music. Just controlled, well-executed filmmaking at its very best. Tommy Lee Jones was great, too, as the sheriff on the trail of both Moss and Chigurh. It wasn't very much of a stretch for Jones, a role that we've seen him in before, but he had some brilliant dialogue and his delivery was oftentimes hilarious. The movie is filled with a lot of dark humor. It's nice to know that people can crack smartass jokes while being hunted like wildlife.

No Country is, quite simply, one of the best movies of the year.

...

Completely on the opposite side of the filmmaking spectrum, Beowulf was everything No Country wasn't. Loud. Action-packed. Animated.

Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary wrote a really wonderful adaptation of the ancient epic poem. They managed to craft a true narrative out of the original story's three disjointed battles between the titular character and his nemeses, Grendel, Grendel's mother and the dragon, weaving a brilliant thread throughout.

The voice acting was top notch. Ray Winstone, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie (of course, greater emphasis is placed on her character's gold-streaked attributes than Jolie's actual performance).

I have a few minor quibbles with the motion capture CGI that Bob Zemeckis dusted off for this film. The characters all looked great. The backgrounds, the water, the fire effects, everything looked amazing. But sometimes the characters didn't walk so much as float, as if they were standing on one of those moving walkways at the airport. And oftentimes the characters or items they interacted with were lacking any sort of weight and heft, which was somewhat distracting.

Overall, however, this was a marvelous movie that probably couldn't have been told without utilizing the mo-cap animation. They certainly had some skilled animators and programmers. Like any new technology, there are still some bugs to be ironed out, but it was great, great fun nonetheless.

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