Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Different isn't necessarily art

One of my dad's longest running jokes, or maybe I should say 'sayings,' is about movies he doesn't like. You have to understand that he doesn't like about 90% of them, so I've heard this often. Anyways, the saying goes something like this:
It's a masterpiece; the master has left, the piece remained.

Well, the other day I found myself saying something similar about the latest Coen brothers movie, No Country for Old Men. I thought the movie really sucked. About ten seconds into the film I found it boring (during the first narrative). About a minute or two into it, I told hubby I didn't want to see it (already there were two murders and I knew the movie was going to be bad, as in mean).
I stayed and watched the whole thing though. The movie was two hours long. Two hours too long in my opinion.

Anyways, our friends -- and as I understand it many other people too -- found the movie very good and artistic. You know, hubby tried to explain their opinion to me, it's different. People think it's one of those artsy phartsy movies. I said, sure, only there was no artsy, just phartsy.

Many say the movie was different. I say it just sucked, but because there were some "artistic" elements often found in real art films, people confuse the issue. It saddens me because I do generally like Coen Bros' movies and this one has a plot line similar to Fargo, one of my all-time favourite movies, with a small town cop that goes after a ruthless murderer. The difference here is that another person gets involved.

Let's start with characters. They were all shallow and one-dimensional. The bad guy was just -- bad with no other qualities. The two protagonists weren't much better, their motives unclear.

The dialogue - what dialogue?

The description - ok, here I must agree that the cinematography was good, as was the acting - superb!

The plot was interesting, but lacked any redeeming qualities to make up for all the horrors subjected to when watching the film. It lacked that something that binds it all together.

As a whole, the movie lacked that je ne sais quoi quality that makes something work. Perhaps it was the lack of heart in both character and plot, lack of any redeeming quality that could give the viewer hope. There was no soul.

So no, No Country for Old Men isn't art, it just isn't good. I wish people didn't confuse feeling alienated by a movie with calling it art. If it was a book, I guarantee people would just stop reading it. Even the harshest books I've read, with the worst endings possible, left me with some emotional bond to one character or another despite losing hope for it, or for mankind - 1984. There was none of that here.

Well ... I think you got me by now. Feel free to disagree of course.

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Anonymous said...

No redeeming characters in a similar unrelenting landscape. Minimalist story-telling. Themes of Futility, Fate....but agreed, no Fargo! But the popcorn was real good and double buttered!

M. Noo

Melly said...

Yeah, you're right - unrelenting landscape. And I liked this part, managing to show the harshness through the landscape is definitely artistic. Very. Agreed :)

But don't you get me started about popcorn in such a movie!!! ;)

Nienke Hinton said...

I felt similarly about Pulp Fiction. Great acting, interesting characters but I still don't "get" the movie. Much to phartsy for me.
I haven't see No Country, would you consider it an action movie? Because even commercial action movies (which I love) often have great characters and fun plots. I'm thinking the Die Hards, Terminators, 48 Hours, Jackie Chan. Terrantino movies don't have enough plot for me - with the exception of his early works - but I'm rambling now.

PS Hi Melly!

Nienke Hinton said...

Oh, and Fargo is one of my all time faves too.

Melly said...

You know what. I never really understood what was the big deal about Pulp Fiction either. Mind you, I loved Reservoir Dogs and both Kill Bills.

I don't think No Country is action. It's violent, but not action. The latest action movies I've really enjoyed as fun and entertaining were Bourne Ultimatum, Casino Royale. The latest Die Hard was a tad long IMO, but definitely more fun. So yeah, we're thinking along the same lines here.

Hi Nienke :)

rdl said...

well now by the sounds of it i guess i should just wait til it's on video.

Melly said...

Well, as long as you don't watch it alone, though. This one is one mean movie.
(Like I'd watch Fargo alone (I did), but not Reservoir Dogs, if you know what I mean).

Deborah Woehr said...

I remember seeing the previews on TV, but I forget what they are about. They obviously didn't hook me. I never saw Pulp Fiction either because everyone I talked to said it was confusing, much like David Lynch's Lost Highway.

Thanks for the heads up. I think I'll save my money for another show.

melly said...

Hey Deborah, glad I could save you some money :)

Ryan Oakley said...

It is a book. Cormac McCarthy.

Yzabel said...

Somehow it reminds me of how I tend to consider the average "French movie". People say it's "art"; personnally, I just find them boring and shallow. :P

(That said, I haven't seen this movie, so I can't tell much about it. The synopsis looked interesting, but I guess I may save my hard-heard money for another movie, then.)

Melly said...

Being a book, doesn't make the movie any better.

Hey Yzabel, I know what you mean, just because a movie is French, doesn't mean its art (mind you, some of my all-time favourite movies are French, but I don't like them immediately just because of that).
If you do end up seeing the movie, come back and tell me what you think. Especially if you think I totally got it wrong. It would be interesting to hear another perspective.