'No Country for Old Men'
The bonus features are minimal but it's still one of the Coen Brothers' finest
Although it's still probably playing at a theater near you, "No Country For Old Men" arrives on DVD on Tuesday (March 11). For many viewers, DVD will be the perfect medium to catch this peculiar American masterpiece that ends up being one-part chase movie, one-part Western, one-part Coens-style dark comedy and one-part mournful ellegy for a long-since-lost way of life. While the top-notch performances by Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin and deserving Oscar winner Javier Bardem are immediately accessible and enjoyable, the Coen Brothers refuse to coddle audiences and several key and conclusive plot twists that play as intentionally ambiguous may be less alienating with the benefit of rewinding and pausing.
As it stands, "No Country For Old Men" is both a flawlessly literal adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel, but also a logical companion to Coen Brothers classics like "Blood Simple" and "Fargo." It's violent and action-packed enough to satify viewers in search of a thriller -- it's really just about a drug deal gone bad and the subsequent blow-back -- but it has the rich themes and texture of a good book.
The fine DVD transfer perfectly captures Roger Deakins' cinematography, as well as the taut pacing of the Coens' editing, but it isn't exactly over-stuffed with bonus features. Usually a DVD package this sparse and arriving this soon after a critically adored film would suggest the subsequent arrival of a Special Edition, but the Coens have always been erratic in taking advantage of the possibilities of DVD.
DVD Bonus Features:
The Good: At 24 minutes, "The Making of 'No Country For Old Men'" is a standard behind-the-scenes doc. Ample time is given to the casting of all of the lead roles including Javier Bardem as the evil incarnate Anton Chigurh and picking Scottish lass Kelly Macdonald to play a brash Texas belle. The doc also gives time to occasionally neglected technical aspects of the film including the attention to detail that went into selecting all of the weapons and make-up effects. Everybody pays extensive homage to the Coens, who also get eight minutes of additional adulation on "Working With The Coens." It turns out that working with the Coens was marvelous for everybody. Go figure.
The Bad: Nobody felt like doing a commentary. At seven minutes "Diary of a Country Sheriff" starts off focusing on Tommy Lee Jones' character, the moral center of the movie, meanders into a superficial discussion of the film's meanings and ends up being insufficient on both counts. While Deakins, a long-time collaborator, has played an active role in past Coen DVDs, he's entirely absent in the features for what may be his greatest achievement. And while this isn't a surprise, viewers looking for answers regarding the film's ending won't find any explanations. Deal with it.
The Price: $29.99