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High Culture

My day yesterday was filled with event. lidocafe called me in the morning and asked me if I would like to go and see No Country For Old Men, which we had both been eagerly awaiting. Of course, I wanted to, but I was scheduled to go to an Early Music concert in the evening, and had work to do, dogs to walk, chores to do. So of course, I went. I remarked that going from this ultra violent movie to genteel singing and orchestral music would be a stark contrast, not from the sublime to the ridiculous, but from the "something" to the "something else"; in fact, it was from the sublime to the equally sublime.

No Country For Old Men was, to coin a phrase, "fucking awesome."

Now I can see that it might actually be possible to film The Road, but I want the Coen brothers to do it. Watching this movie was like watching the reading experience of reading The Road (if that makes any sense at all). It picked you up, sucked you in and didn't let go until the last second.

It is visually breathtaking, with its wide, gorgeous shots of sunrise, sunset, movement of clouds, lightning over prairie, but all slightly desaturated so that we know this is not some Romantic Western Epic.

There is no score. The silence is breathtaking, punctuated only by creaks, clicks, gasps of breath, explosions of gunfire and the stacatto thump of a cattle prod gun.

The cattle gun is used by one of the most terrifyingly impassive psychopathic killers in movie history. Played by a chilling Javier Bardem, he has a slightly autist air about him - detached, incapable of human empathy or understanding, but with his own peculiar standard of logic. He is Death.

Then there is Random Chance, in the figure of the Lewellyn Moss, played by Josh Brolin. He stumbles on a drug deal gone wrong and makes choices according to his own standards of behavior and logic which lead him inexorably into the path of Javier Bardem.

Then there is Good, represented by the wonderful Tommy Lee Jones. There is a line he speaks about "carrying the flame" which will resonate with all familiar with The Road. Jones' performance is, as always, wise, powerful, amused, laconic, tinged with sadness.

There is not a lot of dialogue, but what there is resonates with the music of Cormac McCarthy's words. I haven't read the book - now, I want to.

Brief intermission while lidocafe and I stumbled, gasping, from the theatre, and met up with my friend kp, with whom we went for a somewhat rushed but tasty Chinese meal

After which, kp and I met our friend mkb at the Alix Goolden Hall, where we listened to a concert of a Baroque Orchestra with guest soloists - a soprano and a counter tenor - performing a Handel orchestral suite, some Handel arias and Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

We do not often enough have the opportunity to hear a counter tenor singing live. His voice is unearthly, hauntingly beautiful. With him singing the alto line, the opening verse of the Stabat Mater was so exquisite I almost broke in half.

It was lovely.

I'm amazed I slept at all, after both those experiences.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 18th, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC)
Glad the concert was as good as the film.

Small correction: a cattle prod gives electric shocks and is used to get cows to go where you want them to go. Anton uses a cattle gun, which shoots a bolt into the brain and is used to stun cattle (ideally, I think, to kill the brain but not the body) so they can be bled. The association of this weapon with killing by numbers, with efficiency, makes it extra horrifying.

We must also mention Anton's haircut--a masterful bit player that changes Javier Bardem's appearance more than I would have thought possible and adds a great deal to his terrifyingly impassive expression.

Edited at 2007-11-18 09:04 pm (UTC)
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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