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“No Country For Old Men”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: Josh Brolin in “No Country For Old Men,” Miramax Films, 2007]

I’ve seen over 80 new releases in the five months since I saw “No Country For Old Men” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including fine works by directors like Steven Soderbergh, Michael Winterbottom and Abel Ferrara. But none has stayed as fresh in my memory — or, hell, just straight-up kicked as much ass — as the Coen brothers’ “No Country For Old Men.” I’d say it’s their masterpiece, but they’ve already put out two or three other movies that might qualify for that title.

I saw the movie in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of my life, after a long day of interviews and live web shows. The movie started at 10 o’clock at night and I half-expected to fall asleep. Not only did that not happen, but when the movie ended I couldn’t sleep because I just wanted to keep talking about it. And though I wasn’t able to take notes like I normally would, it didn’t matter. After all that time, I can still instantly call to mind a whole fleet of moments and images and characters from the film.

Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, “No Country” follows Llewelyn Moss (a shockingly rugged Josh Brolin), a hunter who stumbles on a botched drug deal and all the dead bodies and cold hard cash that goes with it. He absconds with the money and, before long, the men with claim to it have sent a hitman named Anton Chigurh (a shockingly creepy Javier Bardem) to retrieve it. Despite Brolin’s impressively gruff performance, in addition to solid supporting turns from Tommy Lee Jones as a too-old-for-this-shit sheriff and Woody Harrelson as another drug enforcer on the trail of Moss’ money, it is Bardem who will receive all the attention and, almost assuredly, all the Oscar nominations for the film — somewhat rightfully so. Sporting an outlandishly bad pageboy haircut and a truly psychotic bug-eyed stare, he’s a great movie villain in the Hannibal Lector mold — a vision of heinous, unbridled menace who nevertheless carries a perverse sort of allure thanks, in part, to the purity of his purpose and to his quirky, for lack of a better term, sense of humor.

Eventually, the film settles into a series of cat-and-mouse chases between Moss and Chigurh, but even more than the mercilessly suspenseful set pieces, what lingers is the Coens’ remarkable attention to visual details, the way a man struggling for his life on a linoleum floor would scuff it up with his boots, or the look of disturbed dust in a ventilation shaft. Reading those words on the page, they must sound totally mundane. But they demonstrate the Coens’ directorial precision: every choice is considered and every element, down the smallest one, has been measured and selected with care. Even the things that must have been happy accidents, like the ominous lightning in the distance of a shot as Moss runs for his life, work perfectly.

Curiously, when I asked colleagues at Cannes what they thought of the movie, they all said almost the same thing: “I think it’s their best film; I just don’t like them in general.” On one hand, that doesn’t surprise me. The film is good enough to easily transcend their fan base; though “No Country” features elements of past Coen brothers movies — the grim humor in the face of tragedy, the hard-boiled dialogue, the postmodern twists on a well-worn genre (in this case the Western) — but it is its own movie, and stands side-by-side with their greatest works (a title I’d ascribe to “Fargo” and “The Big Lebowski”) as an equal, if not an outright superior.

On the other hand, when it did it become cool to bash the brothers? Certainly their last few films haven’t been as good as their best works, but “No Country For Old Men” is a true return to form. If they keep putting out movies like this one, my peers are going to look awfully foolish. This has got to be the best movie of the year.

“No Country For Old Men” opens on November 9th.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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