New on DVD: No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn’t There

New on DVD: No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn’t There

Two of the Coen brothers’ more ambitious films about murder are being re-released together: No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn’t There. In No Country, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) opens a can of murderous worms when he stumbles upon a botched drug deal and finds a briefcase containing $2 million. The Mexican […]

Two of the Coen brothers’ more ambitious films about murder are being re-released together: No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn’t There.

In No Country, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) opens a can of murderous worms when he stumbles upon a botched drug deal and finds a briefcase containing $2 million. The Mexican owners of the money bring in killer-without-a-conscience Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) to recover the cash. In the meantime, soon-to-be-retired Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tries to track down Llewelyn and breach his stubbornness to prevent any more bloodshed.

The Man Who Wasn’t There is a dark and twisted film noir that takes place in a 1949 California town. Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton) is a barber that wants to join the dry cleaning business but to gain the means to escape his dull life he turns to blackmail and revenge. The other players in Ed’s charade are his wife (Frances McDormand), brother-in- law (Michael Badalucco), his wife’s boss (James Gandolfini), a young pianist (Scarlett Johansson) and a big city lawyer (Tony Shalhoub).

No Country for Old Men is brilliant. The unusual wig adorned by Bardem is truly memorable and adds to the uniqueness of a haunting character. Brolin’s quiet determination and Jones’ weary professionalism is outstanding. The story is intriguing and the Coens give it their own special brand of style. The conclusion is entirely unexpected and unpredictable, which is initially troublesome but very smart.

The Man Who Wasn’t There looks stunning in stark black and white contrasts. The lighting and cinematography are excellent, creating a film reminiscent of classic noir pictures. Some scenes are so perfectly set, they distract from the narrative for a moment, but it enhances the film overall. Thornton’s performance as silent protagonist and unreserved narrator is also noteworthy. The only complaint is by the end it feels somewhat lengthy.

No Country‘s special features include a “making of” documentary; ”Working with the Coens,” which sings the brothers’ praises; and “Diary of a Sheriff,” which follows Jones’ character. The other DVD also has a “making of” documentary; an excessively long although informative interview with cinematographer Roger Deakins; and an amusing feature commentary by Thornton and the Coen brothers.