No Country for Old Men – A Horrifying Oscar Nominee

If you haven’t yet seen NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, then I’m going to tell you right now that Anton Chigurh is every bit as frightening as Freddy Kruger, Michael Myers, or Jason ever dreamed (pardon the Freddy pun) of being. As Chigurh, Javier Bardem (BEFORE NIGHT, for which he became the first Spanish actor ever to be nominated for an Academy award) plays one of the most disturbing film characters I’ve seen in many a moon. I’m not normally affected by the portrayal of murderous film villains all that strongly, but this guy had my stomach in a knot. And I do mean this as a compliment.
In many ways NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN is a good old fashioned horror film with a fear factor not unrelated to the aforementioned beloved creepers. There isn’t even all that much dialogue in many segments, which means much of what affects audiences is the film’s frightening mood. So for those of us who may have lamented the fact that horror films always get snubbed come award season, I say take heart. NO COUNTRY has now made up for that to some degree. In fact, Javier Bardem’s character has more than a little in common with Rutger Hauer’s interpretation of his character John Ryder (get it?) in 1986’s THE HITCHER. Hauer’s performance was underrated then (heck, almost completely ignored in many circles), but one can now more easily see what he brought to his role that set up the film for the 2007 remake – which failed in part because it missed the Hauer element. I think in some ways, Bardem’s performance lends credence to a performance like Hauer’s. Read More

The Spiderwick Chronicles – Fantasy Film Review

I tried, Mr. Spock. I really tried…to like this movie, that is. I liked the ads I saw for it and was honestly looking forward to it. But alas, I knew within five minutes it just wasn’t going to hook me. The whole thing simply felt too formulaic, too aware that it was a movie. Even David Strathairn (MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH, BOURNE ULTIMATUM), who played Arthur Spiderwick, and whom I normally like, seemed too cognizant that he was making a “kids” movie and it showed in his performance—right from his very first scene, I might add.
And isn’t the embittered kid due to unhappy family circumstances (normally divorce, of course) becoming just a wee bit tiresome? At least the manner in which it’s handled in film? Obviously the angry kid learns his lesson in the end, but I felt him not much more than irritating and found myself caring little about him. His siblings rather failed to draw me in as well. Besides, the broken-family device was handled so much better in a little film called E.T. Read More