Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oscar the Grouch

As much as I admire No Country for Old Men--perhaps the best (American?) movie since Raging Bull--and even as I write, "It describes evil perfectly," I wonder how much we needed it--and all right, maybe we do, if only to notice evil's bland advance, a cheap crook with a gimmick--two, if you count the flipping coin--who ruins everything for the rest of us. But like those kids at the end, we'll take the cash and grin in complicity, bare-chested in the giving, while the Bad Man rolls "further up the road." And something else, maybe more: I admit my eyes filled with tears as Ed Tom Bell/Tommy Lee Jones (and has Jones finally separated himself from his character by the merest slanting line?) tells his dream about his father in the mountain pass:
It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin'. Never said nothin' goin' by. He just rode on past ... and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin' fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. 'Bout the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin' on ahead and he was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.*
I'm not sure which ached more, the thought of that fiery horn or the waking up. Any of you out there an orphan, father gone, can bawl along with me, in this "world more full of weeping than we can understand." And I thank the Coens for a good cry, and for reminding us--OK, reminding me--that much is taken, and much remains--and more will go. Jeez, even the last roaring moments of The Shining make me sad now, Father Jack losing himself, love turned upside-down "in all that dark and all that cold."

(But the brothers made it up to us Oscar night, with an image in their acceptance speech that made me laugh out loud: Ethan, eleven years old, down at the airport, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase, Joel shooting their first movie: Henry Kissinger: Man on the Go.)

*Thanks, IMDb; I'll trust the accuracy of your quote.

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