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Month: December 2007

No Country For Old Men

I saw No Country for Old Men weeks ago, and it’s taken me this long to come to grips with it; or to at least find an entrance point for discussion that made sense to me. I spent a while musing on the nihilistic nature of the movie. My first draft of this noted “family counts for nothing except danger, and the monsters are not destined for jail time.”

But that’s not true. I’ve seen nihilistic movies. A truly nihilistic movie ignores consequences; the crop of Tarantino/Besson-influenced movies come far closer to nihilism than No Country for Old Men. Consider Snatch, in which the protagonists are pretty completely immoral but walk free at the end. I liked Snatch but there’s about zero morality in the whole thing.

No Country for Old Men is full of morality. The gut punch of an ending wouldn’t be powerful if it wasn’t full of morality. Chigurh is a monster, and the movie makes no bones of that fact, and he’s expected to meet his fate at the end. Sheriff Bell is his counterpart in morality, occupying the benevolent side of the Western drama. Or, perhaps, Moss will bring justice — he’s not a good person per se, but he does represent the sanctity of family. You don’t mess with a man’s family.

And then the trapdoor opens, and then the ground is gone from underneath us. It’s not nihilistic, it’s darker. Consequences do matter, but sometimes they don’t work out. This is what makes it such a strong conclusion.


Show me a semi-hot newish show, and I’m likely to want to read the books it was based on. They’re more portable, after all. Accordingly, I picked up and read Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter over the holidays. Serial murderer protagonists are very Solstice!

I can’t say they made a lasting impression. Dexter is a rather defanged protagonist. The series hinges on his code of ethics, which forbids him to hurt anyone except other killers; there’s no way that code is going to be broken any time soon, because the series takes a markedly different direction if that ever happens. So no tension surrounds that particular dilemma.

Further, we don’t see Dexter being bad. We walk with him right up to his murders, and we hear his Dark Passenger urging him onward, but we fade to black before details ensue. Conversely, the efforts of the antagonists of each book are described thoroughly, which serves to make Dexter nearly cuddly in comparison.

Oh, and his sister finds out what he is by the end of the first book and yet forgives him. Still loves him, in fact. The same goes for his fiancee’s kids. It’s hard for the reader to see him as a menacing figure when nobody else does.

The writing is OK, and the stories are not uninteresting. The world is rather glossy. Hm. It’s sort of a Disney serial killer world, right down to the adorable moppets who, and I am not making this up, Dexter will be training to follow in his footsteps. Because you need cute adorable moppet sidekicks. And the rules of the world are such that there is no other option.

Yeah, they’re kind of odd books.

Trader's League

The Trader’s League does not exist. There is not a tight network of mutually interdependent mercantile interests in the South which keeps its existence secret in order to further gather advantages to itself. It does not set the prevailing market rates for commodities and luxuries alike. It does not sanction independent merchants who act against its best interests. It does not represent the single largest economic force in the known world. It does not arrange for bi-annual trade fairs to spring up, seemingly out of nowhere, in cities it wishes to favor. It has never affected a succession debate. It does not kill.

It is not the most significant concern of the Baneguard. And vice versa.

2007 Catchup

For a lot of pretty good reasons, I missed a lot of movies in 2007. But this is why I have a big television in my living room, no? Yes.

In no particular order:

American Gangster
Eastern Promises
Son of Rambow
Charlie Wilson’s War
Michael Clayton
I’m Not There
The Orphanage
Gone Baby Gone
Darjeeling Limited
The King of Kong
Crows 0

I left off a couple of Phillip Seymour Hoffman flicks. I don’t know. He’s always brilliant, but can you hang a movie around that every time? Oh, hell.

Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead


Punch In The Face Index: Season Finale

Voting seems to have about come to a close, so let’s see what we have.

First off, I totaled up our punches throughout the course of the season — five points to the person on top, four to the #2 slot, etc., etc. Mohinder and Matt each got 4.5 points the week they were tied. The sibs each got 2 points once. Our top eight looks like this:

West (26)
Mohinder (21.5)
Bob (16)
Maya (14)
Elle (11)
Matt (10.5)
Adam (10)
Angela (10)

There’s a huge dropoff after that, so I won’t bother with anyone else. We had a lot of West and Bob hating early on; West redeemed himself a fair bit over the course of the season, and Bob became a much more interesting character. If I were doing my own season-long list, Bob would certainly drop off it.

You guys have the following top five, with a tie in the last slot:

Maya (18)
Mohinder (12)
West (8)
Peter (7)
Elle (6)
Matt (6)

Awfully similar, except no Bob hate. And we dislike West a ton more than you do. CREEPY STALKER DUDE. Oh, and Peter pretty clearly did himself no favors by hanging out with insipid Irish gangsters for half the season followed by a nice stint as Adam’s pet. But man… he was too boring to punch in the face.

Tune in next year when we do the same sort of thing!

Blackpool? Who knew?

Everyone except Susan, who discovered Blackpool, is fired. Completely fired. A BBC mystery miniseries in which the actors periodically burst into popular song? Or, more exactly, popular song bursts onto the soundtrack and the actors sing along, like demented British karaoke? This sits right smack on my sweet spot and whispers sweet nothings into my ears. It’s the love child of Dennis Potter and, I dunno, something a lot more lighthearted than Dennis Potter.

Also, David Tennant.

Here’s David Tennant with “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” For walking! Here he is singing “Walk Tall”, along with Sarah Parrish. And David Morrissey singing “You Can Get It If You Really Want”.

This is entertainment. I have ordered the DVDs from Amazon UK.