Thursday, January 24, 2008

8th Kill in No Country For Old Men

Approximately every 8 days in 2008 we celebrate the 8th Something of Something -- whoa, specific

*spoilers* from No Country For Old Men follow, obviously

I've seen No Country For Old Men three times and it remains, for the most part, an unnerving experience. Certain moments within Anton Chigurh's (Javier Bardem) relentless demonic pursuit of Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) are only truly terrifying the first time through but others seem to fester like open wounds becoming more troubling with repeated viewings.


No Country... has a much lower body count than many casually destructive action films but the deaths hurt more. That the subject matter seems to be the inevitably of death, life's unavoidable defeat (such a nihilistic author, that Cormac McCarthy) obviously contributes to the disturbance. So does the movie's occasionally merciless sick joke tone...
oh, hell's bells they even shot the dog
The first two murders (a cop and an unfortunate driver on the highway) come courtesy of Chigurh and aren't given much if any context in the larger narrative. I'm not counting the deal gone wrong that sees several dead people at once --one only mostly dead "agua"-- since these killings took place offscreen and I can't tell how many victims there are.

More loss of life follows: a dog (the only onscreen kill not committed by Chigurh) and two 'managerial types' that the big boss must be displeased with. He's not one to articulate his reasons --but god, that's a harsh on the job performance review.

Five dead so far.

And then comes the first of the two long motel sequence (about 45 minutes in) which combined undoubtedly won the film its well deserved Oscar nominations for sound. Llewellyn has the money and three Mexican drug runners and Anton are all in hot pursuit. When Anton bursts into the room where he thinks Llewellyn and the money are he blows away two of the Mexicans with his creepy pressurized weapon. Upon entering the already bloody bathroom, we see the 8th victim of No Country For Old Men. He hides in the shower shaking from fear.

And a very peculiar thing happens.


Chigurh pulls the shower curtain closed before the kill. This brutal murderer who gets off on killing or performs it with bored ease, averts his gaze (for the one and only time) from his own in-progress atrocities. Why? It's a troubling incongruity in this disturbing film.
*

previous episodes of 8th
...character intro in Showgirls
...use of magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

My best guess on this action is that Anton was attempting to be as clean as possible. We see him checking his boots for blood later in the film also, which aids in my drawing of this conclusion.

adam k. said...

I'd have to agree with anonymous, but I also thought maybe Anton was just sickly trying to make the guy think he wouldn't get killed, before killing him. Although I guess there's no particular reason why his closing the shower curtain would be construed as a precursor to his leaving without killing. Meh. Nevermind.

tim r said...

Yeah, it's because he doesn't want to get blood on himself. It splatters all over the inside of the shower curtain. That would have been one messy Anton if he hadn't.

chofer said...

Good point Nat.

I believe this can be view as a condescending gesture to the audience at first (too much killing showing off!! let's skip that one!!), but, on the other hand, it can be view as an even darker, more perverse trait of Chigurh's personality: "I´m bored with all this; it's no fun".
I think the "fun" comes when he obliges his victims to choose their fates with a flip coin. The rest, well, it's just a "wacky, repetitive job". Scary.

One more thing not related to this.
I'm deeply underwhelmed by the cold shoulder the Academy gave "Into the Wild". I know the movie has its detrators. I'm afraid many people wrongly mixed the failed main character with Penn's intention to underline the best traits of the people whom he'll meet along the way in order to maximize his own: a warm and adventorous kid that is as clueless in life as aloof in his stubborn pursuit of loneliness (he calls it himself "freedom").
I didn't see any sanctimonious preach in that. I did see Penn identifying some of McCandless traits with his own. He didn't respect McCandless for his bad judgement and self-centered behavior (hence, the "getting of wisdom" final chapter). He DID respect him for his PASSION.
And I have yet to see another movie this year with this PASSION in its filmmaking (no matter how overlong it is)PS: I have yet to see There Will Be Blood.

Sorry for the long post. But I needed to say this. Keep on your great work Nat!!

HS said...

What IS that crazy gun he's carrying (not the cattle gun/tank) for most of the film? Is it just a rifle with a silencer, or is that some sort of pressurized thing on the end? Certainly inflicts maximum carnage, whatever it is.

NATHANIEL R said...

but he shoots other people with that same weapon at very close range without looking away or covering himself

he's so creepy (stating the obvious. sorry. it's early still)

mattrett said...

I just read it as him not wanting to bloody himself unnecessarily; I don't think it had anything to do with lacking the nerve required to kill. I liked the movie, but think it was overrated...I liked many other movies better this year, chief among them There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, Eastern Promises, Into The Wild...but I think this film is so unique and carefully made it can't be ignored as pushing the medium forward.

chofer said...

Oh yes: It's true that the "extremely tidy" Anton Chigurh borderlines on obssession. I was carried away by this sicko. It's haunting my nightmares right now hehe.

NATHANIEL R said...

yes but he actually looks away.

sorry. this moment is obsessing me now. It's the only time ---though i suppose he does turn his head in that first sickening (orgasmic) kill. but he seems to be enjoying that one.

anyway. ANTON CHIGURH is freaky. (nathaniel stating the obvious for the 8th time today. woot)

Woodstock said...

uhh i had some spoilers here but it's okay don't think it'll ruin the movie for me. i'm loving this 8th thing series.

chofer said...

Well matrett, The Coens has been always accused of playing "cold" and technically flawless. Must be their Minessottan whereabouts?:)
Anyway, black humor works that way sometimes.
Well, not always. My favourite movie of theirs still is BARTON FINK. And there's killing in it, as well as blood, sarcasm, and, strangely, WARM. You have to fall for Judy Davis' vulnerability, and even Turturro's (which he disguises with clumsy arrogance)
NCFOM scene in the hotel, with Lewellyn Moss waiting for Chigurh, reminded me A LOT of Barton Fink's Hotel-prison-hell. I think NCFOM is like a bookend of their best features in a way

Michael C. said...

Not to spoil the mystery but I think the turning of the head is just an extension of shower curtain gesture, turning away from a mess. The curtain barrier is flimsy and he might still have caught some splatter in the face. I can't believe it has anything to do with hesitance or remorse or queasiness on the part of Anton.

NATHANIEL R said...

woodstock --i did warn about spoilers in the first sentence. but SORRY. perhaps i should only do older movies for this series.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

I agree with Michael C., Anonymous, et al, Nathaniel: I think it's basically just a way of keeping himself clean-- he is much closer to the man in the shower than he is to anyone else he dispatches with that weapon (a shotgun with a very impressive silencer mechanism attached), and given that proximity I suppose we could even say that he might be concerned with the possibility of tile chips or other hard chunks from the bathroom environment coming back at him into his eyes, thus the turn-away.

Also, Chofer, I agree with you about the reaction to Into the Wild. I saw the movie, in part, as Penn struggling with whether or not to endorse McCandless's actions as anything other than folly (knowing his fate), but being unable to NOT relate to the kid's passionate, at time arrogant pursuit of his rather ephemeral goal. I wouldn't expect a maverick like Penn, self-proclaimed or otherwise, to not have ambivalent feelings about a subject like this, and that's what made the film fascinating for me. And I am mightily pissed that Oscar could find no room for Catherine Keener, who was much more deserving this year than any of the other two times she was rightfully nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

JA said...

Another thing besides the "not wanting to get blood on himself" point - I've still only seen the film the one time, so I might be a bit off, but doesn't the film slowly get less and less explicitly violent as it goes along? We get heavy-duty, center-of-the-frame murders towards the start, and slowly we see less and less, until there at the end the whole routine climax scene we're waiting for is side-stepped entirely. The Coens are such freaks (I mean that in the best way) about structure and setting up their compositions that I'm sure this was all done on purpose, and it does - to sound as full-o-wind as possible here - resonate thematically.

StinkyLulu said...

I can't say I care about the "why" but I do love that you've instigated me to contemplate it.

Excellent post.

chofer33 said...

Dennis:

You couldn't have put it so much better. So I'm not alone in this.

Maybe that strange and misguided guy wasn't the appropriate subject for a movie.
Maybe that movie found the wrong director. It had to be directed by the more balanced and matter-of-fact biopic master RON HOWARD.
And win many, many Oscars!!!

Or maybe I'll leave the sarcasm to the Coen Brothers. This is their thread after all. So sorry:)

Zee said...

Well, the only kill I remember that was in close proximity is the older guy in the first 10 min or so.

JA said...

And the strangling with handcuffs scene.

Zee said...

True Ja, but in that scene I don't think he cared about getting messed up.

JA said...

Right, I just meant about the focus on violence being more centered at the start of the film, and begining to move off-frame as the film progresses. I think Chigurgh's behavior in the bathroom scene can be explained by not wanting to get messy, but I think it's relevant as the moment the film starts to turn away from showing his violence right up front and center.

Or at least that's the way my faded memory of the movie is trying to make it take shape right now.

Anonymous said...

It's funny. I have the film recorded on my PC and went through that scene again. And I stick with my first reaction!!

I think Anton Chigurh's turning away in that scene looks more deadpan than worried to get away of the mess clean!!

Zee said...

True I see what you're saying.

Michael Parsons said...

He likes to kill, but doesn't like mess. Most killers don't see. Now must be off and clean my bathroom.

NATHANIEL R said...

JA that actually makes a lot of sense --the moment where we start to look away. Especially considering that the last two (and most devastating) murders are both offscreen.

it's almost like its sunk in that the evil is spreading and unstoppable and you can't stop what's coming (death) they don't make you *look* at anymore. But you're still seeing it everywhere. So they've done their (sick) job

Dennis Cozzalio said...

JA is right-- it is around this point that the movie gets less explicitly violent re Chigurh's killings (with the exception of the dispatching of Stephen Root's nameless character), but it doesn't shy away from violence experienced by Chigurh himself. That self-surgery scene in the motel is as gruesome as anything in the movie.

Anonymous said...

You forgot about the old man he bursts in on in the wrong room. The guy is sitting in bed and he reaches for a gun as soon as he sees Anton come in.

So if you're counting the dog as one, you have a total of 8 in your count. But in actuality, it's 9.

chofer said...

Yes it makes sense, but I'm not too sold on this.
So the Coens decided for Chigurh in that particular scene?
I understand the NOT showing of the last murder (Kelly McDonald's)as would has been redundant to the point of gratuitous.
And I'm not including here Lewellyn Moss murder, as he was shot by the Mexicans instead, and the NOT showing was for narrative purposes (the police ALWAYS getting late; the surprise factor: the Mexicans getting to him FIRST!!)
But the directors deciding for this character just out of formal purposes? Hmmmm. Strange.

NATHANIEL R said...

unless he shoots two people on their beds reaching for a gun in a row i got it right. but i was fastforwarding so i'll have to check again ;)

jimmy said...

watch "oprah" today....

Kamikaze Camel said...

Maybe because the guy in shower knew he was going to die, he didn't want to see his face? Whereas everybody else was kind of a surprise. Maybe he likes killing, but not the sight of people beggind for their life?

Or I'm sure I'm forgetting a moment at some point in the movie that contradicts that. I have a DVD copy (i know) and I'm gonna rewatch it soon.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is Chigurh's weapon? Is it a silenced shotgun or is it a kind of weird pressurized air-gun? Does anyone know?

NATHANIEL R said...

isn't it like a pressurized air cannon?

i'd love to know the name of it too. it's better to know details about terrifying things. dismantle the fear

Anonymous said...

In the book there's no mention of a shower curtain, but it says, "Chigurh stepped back to avoid the spray of ceramic chips off the tub..."

Kamikaze Camel said...

Isn't there a scene in the movie that discusses how they kill cows with pressurised air guns? Or is that another movie? Because it wasn't a normal gun.

Although the one he carries around during the scene in this discussion is indeed a gun, I think it has a silencer on the end because it looks like it'd be a bloody loud gun without it.

Anonymous said...

So for clarification, Chigurh carries around a pressurized air-tank to break open locks, and sometimes, to kill people. He also packs a mean, silenced shotgun.

One thing doesn't make sense still. In the scene where Llewyln is being shot at while driving the car in the empty street, the bullets pierce the car windows from a really long range. If it were a shotgun, it definitely wouldn't go that far. Maybe I'm analyzing the weapons excessively, but it is so fascinating.

Chigurh is really one of the creepiest villians to grace cinema.

Cez said...

In my opinion, this scene expresses the contempt Chigurh holds for his victims. To him the guy in the shower is just an inferior creature who won't shut up even though he's about to die. He's almost embarressed by this man's behaviour.

Chigurh doesn't kill people for money or fun but for a higher purpose (like an angel of death).
He complains later (to Llewellyn's wife, I think) that people always beg for their lives and are unable to accept their fate. This is also the reason why Llewellyn's wife has to die.

NATHANIEL R said...

but llewelyn's wife doesn't beg for her life. She just refuses Anton's rules.

shannon said...

to me the shower scene represents how Anton kills without thought in order to escape moral responsibility. He very rarely converses with people that he kills and in the few instances that he does(the clerk at the gas station, Carla Jean) he forces them to "call it" in a coin toss. This can be seen as Anton attemtping to avoid responsiblity for the killings. If the person chose incorrectly then they would be responsible. For the scene with the guy in the shower, I think that Anton closes the curtain because he can't look at this man while he kills him, since he was begging for his life.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is looking too much into it. As someone mentioned, he diverts his face earlier during his first kill (the strangling scene, they cut and edit and jumpcut to his head turning away from a blood spurt from the choking of the cop) and he is clearly doing the same

Eugene said...

does he kill the cowboys wife?? also.. was anyone else expecting him to just die in the car crash? would have been a very "pulp fictionish" way to go

Rock said...

For those who are curious, ANTON CHIGURH used at least three weapons.

1> The compressed air weapon.
A Captive bolt pistol. Looks like
a penetrator type.

2> Shotgun with silencer. Wouldn't work like they show it on film. Might get some reduction in sound, but this is just film fiction.

3> When Anton shoots at the pickup at night, he later drops his gun when hit by Llewelyn's pump shotgun. it looked to be a H&K MP5. It would need a silencer, but I don't recall seeing one.

Agree with earlier poster, Anton was trying to cover himself from splatter, but they also were toning down the blood in the movie.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'm looking too much into it but I noticed that when Anton came into the room, one of the hitmen was laying down on the bed and the light were off, leading me to believe that they were just kind of hanging out. Another example of this was that he had to reach over to grab his gun when the lights turned on.They were obviously waiting for Josh Brolin's character to arrive, but what I don't understand is what two men were doing in the restroom together. One of the hitman doesn't even have a gun.... just curious

Anonymous said...

First and formost he uses a slinced shot gun which had to be custom made for the movie. He did not use the air tank to kill them just to punch out the lock on the door. 2nd he just didnt want to get blood on himself.

Anonymous said...

I agree there are 3 distinct weapons in the movie used by Anton.

The air gun, the silenced shotgun/rifle, which I am still trying to pick the make/model of, and in the street/pickup scene, the H & K MP5, I believe.

This weapon was picked up by Anton when he shot the two gentlemen at the scene of the initial massacre.

Again, I have only seen this movie once, so I could be mistaken, but believe this is the case.

Anonymous said...

i don't think it's a silenced shotgun, i think it's a silenced high caliber, maybe urban sniper rifle. Remember when he takes the long shots and hits the driver of the car Moss gets in to try to get away. He's not using the MP5, he's using the rifle which apparently does not birdshot because Moss never has any shotgun injuries despite a clear shot in the hotel scene that Chigurgh takes with the rifle as Moss is jumping out the window. Drops an MP5 as others have noted, wherever that came from, it wasn't the long gun that he shot out the window at the jumping moss and not the one that took out the driver and almost moss with sniper accuracy.

Anonymous said...

also, in the scene where he kills the two men at the shoot-out scene after hitting them with the flashlight, it looks like a silenced pistol, not H&K MP5 or silenced rifle used later in movie- now I gotta watch it all again ...

Anonymous said...

It was a silenced shotgun & he was using slugs.Average 12 gauge slug weighs 500 grains about the size a big marble.Using slugs they are pretty accurate out to 100yds & little more. I've got Beretta Tatical 12gauge & I can shoot 2in. groups at 100yds. They are accurate & very distructive.

Anonymous said...

Alright just so everyone knows exactly what his 3 weapons are:

1. Captive bolt pistol; the air tank weapon that breaks locks.

2. Shotgun with a silencer, it is a shotgun as you can tell by its stock, sights, and vent rail on top of the barrel.

3. A Tec 9 with a barrel shroud and silencer, this is the weapon he shoots the guy through the windshield with and shoots at moss with in that area of the town. You can tell it was this weapon because it makes small single bullet dust clouds, sounds more like a silenced pistol than the weird high pitched noise of the shotgun. And as moss picks it up, while resembling other submachine guns, it is clearly a tec 9. you can also see it when he shoots the metal bridge, while driving, to scare the raven.

Skidney said...

I know why: He was protecting himself from shower shrapnel.

Lisa Knowlton said...

Anton killed his own father in the shower scene, that is the reason he pulled the curtain.