No Country for Old Men, Blu-ray (2007/2009)
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin
Directed by: The Coen Brothers
Studio: Buena Vista/Miramax [Release date: Apr. 7, 09]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color 1080p HD
Audio: English or Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Extras: “The Making of No Country for Old Men,” “Working with the Coens,” “The Diary of a Country Sheriff,” Unauthorized featurette by Josh Brolin, Other interviews with Coens, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin & Javier Bardem, 2nd disc digital download copy
Length: 122 minutes
Having won the 2007 Oscar for Best Picture as well as winning that title from both Rolling Stone and the AP and being called “a perfect movie” by Roger Ebert, No Country for Old Men rolls out on Blu-ray with a bunch of excellent bonus features unavailable before – five hours worth if you stick with them all. This is probably the Brothers’ masterpiece so far – more violent than any of their past films but more solidly put together and with superb acting by the entire cast. The particular time (1980s) and place (barren west Texas) are amazingly evoked so that the viewer is not only on the edge of one’s seat but almost becomes part of the story.
The unique Coen Brothers mix of suspense, quirkiness, black humor and a talented stable of actors supports a basic plot of a really evil guy chasing after a not-so-evil guy to kill him. Bardem makes the unstoppable psychopathic killer Chigurh creepily believable. Brolin is Llewelyn, who while hunting stumbles across a desert drug deal shootout in which all concerned are killed, leaving a couple million dollars in a carry case which he decides to keep. It’s not long before a cat and mouse chase ensues as he attempts to escape from Chigurh. Also on his trail to try to save his life is local sheriff Bell, played by Jones – who is having a difficult time coming to terms with the new senseless violence and wants to retire.
The transfer to Blu-ray looks handsome, from the widescreen vistas of west Texas at the opening, to the claustrophobic mostly-dark shots in hotel rooms and streets. One of the shots near the end, with Chigurh’s wild face framed by darkness in a Rembrandtesque style, is unforgettable. This may be one of the first Blu-rays I’ve run across with only standard Dolby 5.1 surround instead of one of the two lossless options, but gunshots still reproduce with upsetting realism. The lavish amount of extras will give the viewer an extensive look into the Coen Brothers’ special approach to making films. The short featurette directed by Josh Brolin seemed as odd as anything in the film.
– John Sunier