I went to the worst movie last night called No Country for Old Men from a Cormac McCarthy novel by the same novel. The film starts with a horror show as a young antelope hunter Vietnam veteran stumbles on a drug deal gone wrong and a bunch of dead bodies near the Texas-Mexican border and runs off with $2 million dollars. He is trailed by a psychopathic killer and a philosophizing sheriff. That's basically the plot.
About half way through I figured out that the killer played by Javier Bardem was the Angel of Death or the Force of Evil, and about that point I thought the film was truly silly and didn't take it seriously. The sherriff philosophizes how THINGS HAVE GONE TO HELL NOW. The sheriff's musings made the film sillier. Why are things worse now? If the sheriff believs things are bad now, he should live a hundred years ago when life was much worse. I don't buy the baloney that things are much worse now.
I just read William Kennedy's novel Quinn's Book, a quite good tale about a poor Irish orphan growing up in 1850 Americas seeing the famine Irish coming in NY and these poor starving people being force out of Albany, New York. Compared to the famine Irish, people in No Country for Old Men are quite prosperous, stay in motels with TVs, and drive around in nifty big shiny American cars. Like McCarthy's hero the Vietnam veteran, some people now just want a lot more like $2 million which gets them in a lot of trouble. If I had stumbled on a bunch of dead bodies and $2 million, I'd leave and call the sherriff--no novel, no film. Sorrrry.
Cormac McCarthy seems to be writing right-wing rants in his novels about HOW THINGS HAVE GONE TO HELL. Like most right-wingers, he uses the violence of the drug trade in the 1980s and 1990s as his evidence, without looking the deindustrialization of the U.S. during that period and the desperation of unemployed that fed the increased drug usage. So without looking at the wider sociological and political reasons for the drug trade, he just opportunistically appropriates it for a violent and quite meaningless and quite silly story. Anyway, I recommend avoiding the films. It's a downer anyway that revels in gratuitous violence.
After writing this, I read online James Wood's article "Red Planet' in January 5, 2008, New Yorker where he criticizes both the film and McCarthy's original novel. Wood says the novel imitates the narrative of pulp thrillers and action film. Then this bad novel was made into an action film which Wood says has moral hollowness and can not give its "violence any depth, context or reality." I heartily agree, and now understand why I thought the film so silly: halfway through the violence, lacking any context, seem like violence in a child's cartoon. Bam, I threaten you. But the Coen brothers and McCarthy load up the film with cartoon violence and absurd philosophizing as if Popeye the Sailor Man was musing about the world.
Avoid the film. Ignore the novel.