From: Shannon Clute ( clute@noircast.net)
Date: 02 Dec 2007

Hello John (et al),

I just joined the group a few weeks ago, and have been savoring the unusually substantial comments posted here. I didn't want to jump in until I had something of substance to add, and your comment on the the new Coen brothers film has given me the chance.

I have watched all of the Coen's films, and have had the opportunity to comment on three of those films at some length in a podcast series I co-host with Richard Edwards, entitled "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir." I think you put your finger on one of the most important qualities of all the Coens' films, which is their tendency to go in unexpected directions. Yet it seems to me that the elements that refuse to conform to our expectations are always especially significant. In the case of this film, I think the sudden death of the protagonist Llewelyn Moss (played brilliantly by Josh Brolin) is just such a poignant surprise. It reminds us that in real life, even the most capable men can die very suddenly, seemingly at the whim of Fate
(and the Coens' refusal to give Moss any sort of traditional parting shot was brilliant. No heroic departure, but a high-angle, medium-long shot down at his bloody torso, chin tipped towards the camera so he's barely recognizable). And the workings of Fate may be precisely what the film is about. The Coens seem to love characters who border on mythological figures (such as Goodman's portrayal of the Devil in BARTON FINK), or embodiments of allegory. That's how I read Javier Bardem's character of Anton Chigurh, as an emodiment of Fate--or perhaps Death itself. And he turns in one of my all time favorite performances here.

The question of how well this film adapts the book (and how unusually hard-boiled the book is, for a western) merits further discussion. But I did want to weigh in on the film, and introduce myself.

Can't wait to read tomorrow's rara-avis digest. You folks are the best sort of hard-core fans--the type willing to take umbrage over the finer points of hard-boiled and noir. Who could ask for anything more?

Shannon Clute Co-host, "Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed" and "Out of the Past: Investigating Film Noir" www.noircast.net

  I think the movie disappoints some because the first 2 acts work so well as a
  thriller that the audience is expecting it to resolve itself the way a
  conventional movie thriller does. but then it disavows that intent and becomes its
  rumination on whatever, and it's clear that being a thriller was never the
  intent of the storyteller. I know I was surprised when the movie took this
  turn, not having read the book. but the film didn't end at that point so I went
  with where it was going. and the film has stuck with me

  John Lau

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