Sunday, November 11, 2007

You can't help but compare yourself against the old bloggers.

Cormac McCarthy's recent chat with the Coen Brothers in TIME revealed that over the years, whenever he wasn't building shelter or memorizing antique dictionaries, he had time to see at least a few movies (appropriately enough, he's a Malick fan). Maybe he had at least a flickering thought of a film adaptation in the back of his mind when he was writing his atypically brisk thriller No Country For Old Men, the only one of the six McCarthy books I've read so far that seemed tailor-made for the screen; what with its cattle gun-and-air tank-wielding supervillain, its outrageous but not-undigestible violence, and its ambiguously gay wizards and witches. Thankfully, the Coen Brothers were of course smart enough to realize the potential for cinematic greatness there on the page, provided there was no excessive tinkering. Of course, I read plenty of fretful comments on the intertubes about how the Coens would supposedly ruin the material with their "wink-wink approach," as if that's all they ever bring to the table, and as if McCarthy's work were 100% humorless. I would think both author and filmmakers are at least somewhat bemused, for instance, at the sheriff in No Country who laments the presence of "kids with green hair and bones in their noses" on the streets of small Texas towns, even if the concern for our decaying world is real. So if it looked to you from the previews and trailers of this movie that the Coens nailed it, they did. Well, you could argue the ending is somewhat deflating, but it worked for me, and reminded me how No Country can be seen as a pre-apocalyptic prelude to The Road.

Now bring on the other film of 2007 that looks like some fantasy movie draft pick, There Will Be Blood. Kudos to Paul Thomas Anderson for turning one of the two phrases that guarantee box office success into an actual film title (the other one being There Won't Be Balls).

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