Thursday, April 10, 2008

No Country for Hollywood

Sensing its grim message, I vowed not to see “No Country for Old Men.” But then, in a hotel in Chicago while on a training trip for my company in March, my curiosity got the best of me. I ordered the movie in my hotel room. I had to see what Hollywood had come to after many years of my refusing to see theatre grotesque.

I was prepared to be flabbergasted, but the kind of evil that paraded before my eyes stunned me into reflective silence one moment and fury the next. My blood ran cold at the “hero” assassin in the movie and what his type ominously meant about Hollywood and possibly much of America. The assassin was a calculating psychopath acting as Grim Reaper for allegedly imperfect people who, because of their personal failings, somehow deserved not only his fatal justice but, in many instances, a gallows comeuppance speech beforehand.

The filmmakers (the wretched Coen brothers) gave the assassin all the gravitas of a Greek hero. He had the confidence of James Bond, the canniness of a spy, the unhurried movements of a general who has had months to plan an operation. He effortlessly outwitted his good-guy opponents and disappeared into the night like a devilish apparition who cannot be caught because he is beyond good and evil. He is the devil’s executioner of regular guys with a guilty conscience, though his victims do not deserve such a fate.

The Coens have their good guys show existential dread and inner turmoil, as if reflecting the American psyche, while the assassin seems blithe, carefree and discerning.

As dreadful as the recent “There Will Be Blood” was, "No Country for Old Men" shows Hollywood’s liberal underbelly like no other in the history of filmmaking, to my knowledge. It is a pile of wretched, stinking, worm-ridden, Jackson Pollack manure on painted canvass. It is the antithesis of what art should be: the rapturous splendor of what humans can and should be under difficult circumstances. It is unadulterated evil in Technicolor. It is what Hollywood now adorns with its golden statues.

It is no country for Hollywood.

1 comment:

wandering the world said... this is a puzzlement to me. As I watched the chilling story of this sociopath on his trail of violence, I was reminded of the awful truth in life: The good guys still haven't won against the violence of drugs. Why else would we still have so many completely messed up people walking around here?
I thought that the movie depicted the struggle very well. Sure, the gore was a little more graphic than I would have liked to see, but then, I'm sure those called in to investigate such carnage would rather not have to gaze upon such horrors either.
Perhaps you simply haven't kept in touch with the realities of the drug dealers, their tactics, their murderous tendencies if the deal "smells bad," but I wonder why you saw the villian as a 'hero assasin' instead of the monster for which he was depicted. This was a bold move by Hollywood: the good guys didn't win. How many times do we see the good guys suddenly pull out in front and get their man against all odds? Is this fantasy preferable to the truth?
As an objectivist, I would have thought you'd see the message in the movie: The good guys are fighting a losing battle and losing heart along the way. How many unsolved murders are there each year? How many savage acts of violence are there surrounding drug deals each year? How many law officers spend their lives doing the best job they can only to find that their best falls short of success?
I found "No Country for Old Men" a refreshing depiction of society's problems. Too bad it only focused on one side of the problem. They couldn't possibly squeeze in the misery caused by the banking industry, the insurance companies, the oil industry, the energy companies, and all the countless others who ride on the backs of the poor masses struggling to squeeze out a living in this heartless desert we call the land of the free.
I believe gilding the story and giving us a false message of hope is what religions do, not rationlists, not those who use critical thinking skills to discern fact from fiction. I gave the movie two thumbs up for its courage, honesty, and for the outrage I felt in my gut as the villian walked away, uncaught, unpunished, and none the worse for wear after all that he had done.