No Country for Old Men

Sunday, April 06, 2008
We didn't have any Netflix to watch tonight, so I ran up to the video store. Carrying Juniper in her carseat, I watched childless couples slowly browse the perimeter of the store's New Release section, and remembered back to the days before Samuel and Juniper when Landon and I would do the same. I rented No Country for Old Men, fell for a box of Mike Ike's and a bottle of Pepsi (so unhealthy, I know!), and made my way to the check-out counter. There were about three teenage guys (probably around 16) working the counter, and when I asked about the release date for There Will Be Blood, two of the three guys at the counter started telling me about a debate they'd been having for days on which film was better--No Country or There Will Be Blood. My first impression was that these guys were intelligent, loved film, and were turning their after-school and weekend job at Blockbuster into an outlet for critiquing and discussing film. It was great! As a customer, I found their knowledge on the movie I was renting to be interesting and thought provoking. Made me miss my college days where I discussed and analyzed literature and film on a daily basis. Before I left, I chatted with the guys a little bit about Into the Wild, which Landon and I watched a couple of nights ago. Again, they had all seen it and each offered their analysis of the film and even briefly compared it to the book by Jon Krakauer.

When I shop at bookstores like Powell's or Annie Bloom's, all the employees have a wide knowledge base about the books they are selling in the store and a love for literature. In order to be a helpful employee, one has to know a lot about books in order to help a customer make a selection. I've always sort of accepted that at video rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood, the employees are there to rent you your video. They may or may not like film, and they don't have to be nice to you. They are there to create accounts, rent out your movie, and tell you that you'll get a better deal if you buy two popcorn packs with your Mike Ike's. There aren't employees on the floor unless they're putting videos back on the shelf, and in general, there aren't employees being paid to help customers find an interesting movie or to chat with customers about film. With the exception of indie stores like Movie Madness, corporate movie rental chains know people will rent movies with or without knowledgeable employees, so they don't care. I eventually got frustrated with making trips to the video store only to wait in line and/or find they didn't have the movie in stock that I was interested in renting, so a few years ago, we decided to eliminate these trips by becoming members of Netflix. Simple and easy, they always have the movies I want, and I get to keep them as long as I want--no late fees! Although they have a community message board where you can review and discuss movies with your Netflix friends, it just isn't the same as the experience I had last night with those teenagers at Blockbuster. I think places like Hollywood and Blockbuster could have the advantage over Netflix if they had more inventory, eliminated late fees or increased rental times, and put employees on the floor who knew a lot about film. I think there are a lot of people out there who rent movies like Blonde and Blonder and Pistol Whipped, and don't think too deeply about the films they are watching, but there are also a lot of customers who watch films on a deeper level, and these people are quickly moving to Netflix due to poor customer service. When there's ninety-five copies of Bachelorhood 2--the Final Temptation, and only one copy of each disc of The Office (BBC version), that's proof that Blockbuster just doesn't have a clue.

Now about No Country--I give it three out of five stars. This movie is exceptionally violent (the violence is realistic, not overdone), and although excessive violence doesn't make a film bad by any means, I personally find gratuitous violence to be difficult to watch, and this lessens my ability to enjoy the film. The real reason I'm giving it three stars is there just isn't a lot of substance to the film apart from the suspense of the chase. Having said that, the acting was great. Javier Barden, who won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, was amazing. He did a phenomenal job at portraying the Frankenstein-ish character of Anton Chigurh--a machine that could not be stopped, killing nearly everyone that crossed his path. Unforgettable character, really. Despite being slow in spots, I'm glad I saw it. Violent, yes. A little slow, yes. But very Coen brothers, overall.

1 comments:

Andrea said...

I've been wanting to see this movie. I've heard it's pretty violent so that's the only reason I'm not running out to grab it but we'll probably get it this month some time.

We do Netflix too and I like it but we have the cheapest plan so we only rent one movie at a time which means we aren't always in the mood to watch that particular one on that particular night. I think we should probably upgrade so we get better use out of it!

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