No Country for Old Men (Blu-ray) (2007)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 30-Jul-2008

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Featurette-The Making Of No Country For Old Men
Featurette-Working With The Coens
Featurette-Diary Of A County Sheriff
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 122:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ethan Coen
Joel Coen
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Tommy Lee Jones
Javier Bardem
Josh Brolin
Woody Harrelson
Kelly Macdonald
Garret Dillahunt
Tess Harper
Case Amaray Variant
RPI ? Music Carter Burwell


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/24 5.1 (4608Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

No County For Old Men enjoyed something of a mild storm of publicity when it was released last year. This is not so unusual for a film directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, as their absurd manner of storytelling generally means they can make a good, bad, or indifferent film, but they will never make a film you can mistake for anyone else's work. Although I am not an avid fan of their work myself, I have found earlier films of theirs, specifically Fargo and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, to be quite rewarding viewing. So when I found the local release of No County For Old Men on the shelf of the local Big W for slightly less than thirty-one dollars, temptation caused me to throw caution to the wind and make the purchase. The fact that the film was nominated for a total of eight Academy Awards and won four, however, raised an important question. Had the Coen brothers sold out and (dare I say it) gone mainstream?

Fortunately, No County For Old Men is based on a novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. Where it differs from most adaptations of literature is that the film preserves the narrative structure, and indeed most of the major details, of the source material. In this day and age where directors get praise and laurels for making changes to enduring stories that are just plain unnecessary at best, seeing filmmakers doing an adaptation in which they trust the strength of the story to speak for itself is quite a refreshing change. Granted, not every part of the film is completely faithful to the novel (Anton Chigurh, for example, is described in the novel as having eyes as blue as lapis), but in this day and age where filmmakers defend cutting the entire point of the story out of their film with the constant repetition of "anticlimactic" as a catchphrase, the fact that variations are the exception rather than the norm here is a selling point in itself.

The film begins with a voiceover by Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). Ed is an old sheriff. His father was a sheriff, his grandfather was a sheriff, and he can even remember a time when sheriffs did not carry guns. As Ed is explaining all of this in voiceover, a young deputy is placing a suspect in the back of his car. Said suspect, we will later learn, is none other than Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). As Anton proceeds to kill this deputy and a civilian in the first of many escapes he will perform, we cut to a farmer named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) as he is hunting deer. Llewelyn, we will later learn, served two tours in Vietnam and is a little hard up for money. When he stumbles upon the wreckage of a drug deal gone bad, the temptation presented by a satchel containing two million dollars proves to be too much. Taking the money, Llewelyn proceeds to send his wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) to her mother's place whilst he heads toward the Mexican border.

Naturally, this money belongs to someone. That someone is represented by a lawyer who is never given a name in the script (played here by Stephen Root), and they want the money back. What differentiates No County For Old Men from the usual drug deal gone bad plot is that while Anton pursues the money and Llewelyn like the grim reaper, there is a certain ambiguity about the character that allows one to wonder whether Anton is merely doing his job or just doing all of this for his own gain. Javier Bardem is so deadpan in his delivery as he talks of fate and how he must do what he is doing that it is hard to take one's eyes off him. As Woody Harrelson explains during what could be called his extended cameo in the role of Carson Wells, Anton will simply keep coming after the money, and although Llewelyn could simply hand the money to Anton, Anton may just kill Llewelyn merely for inconveniencing him.

No County For Old Men is one of the more accessible films that the brothers Coen have made, but it is definitely not a commercial, mainstream film in the usual sense, despite the approval by the Academy.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

No County For Old Men is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio within a 1920 by 1080 progressive window.

This is a sharp transfer. For those who want the perverse pleasure of counting the wrinkles and creases in Tommy Lee Jones' face, this transfer is above reproach. The depth of field is very good. The shadow detail in the small amount of nighttime scenes is also very good. Some grain appears in the sky during part of a very wide shot at 8:26, for example, but the skylines of such shots constitute the sum total of grain or noise in this transfer.

The colours in the transfer are very rich and vibrant. Reds and browns dominate the palette. No colour bleeding or misregistration is evident.

Compression artefacts were not noted in the transfer. If this is the same transfer as can be found on the Region A release (and there is a lot of reason to suspect it is), then it is an AVC MPEG-4 encode. Film-to-video artefacts were not noted. If there were film artefacts, I blinked and missed them.

English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are present on this disc. They vary a little from the spoken dialogue at times, but not too drastically.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

Two soundtracks are offered on this disc.

The first soundtrack is the original English dialogue in Linear PCM 5.1, which is in 48 KHz, 24-bit if it is the same soundtrack as was presented in Region A. The second soundtrack, which my player defaulted to, is the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1, and that is the plain old lossy Dolby Digital. I listened to both soundtracks, but found the more I listened to the Dolby Digital, the more I wanted to switch back to Linear PCM. The locally-available cover art falsely implies that there is a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack on this disc.

The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at all times. Most of the actors speak with a clearly put-on Texan drawl that takes a small amount of getting used to, but its all still easy to understand. No audio sync problems were noted.

The music in the film is credited to Carter Burwell. Aside from one scene with a mariachi band at 68:32, I did not really notice much music in the film.

The surround channels are used for directionality with effects during the prolonged gun battles or the wheeze-thud sounds of Chigurh's weaponry. The soundtrack is very focused on the dialogue, and as such the majority of the soundtrack comes from the front channels. The surrounds also seemed a little quiet compared with the other channels. They are in use, and often, but in a manner that seems a little too subtle at times.

The subwoofer is used to supplement the explosive sound of Chigurh's weapons, the occasional plane flying overhead, or other such bass-heavy effects. Although the subwoofer is very conspicuous at times due to the nature of the effects it is supporting, it is still integrated well with the rest of the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

A small number of extras are present on this disc. All are standard definition, presented in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with footage from the film severely windowboxed at 2.35:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Menu

In what I hope will continue to be the standard for Paramount, this disc is provided with both a Top Menu and a Pop-Up Menu. The Pop-Up Menu is, in effect, a full-screen menu with the film reduced to a very small window in the upper-right corner of the screen. A woefully-inadequate sixteen Chapter Stops are provided, and response time is very good.

Featurette - The Making Of No Country For Old Men

A twenty-four minute, twenty-nine second featurette that feels like a very extensive electronic press kit.

Featurette - Working With The Coens

An eight minute, seven second featurette about the Coen brothers. Interesting for Javier Bardem's comments.

Featurette - Diary Of A County Sheriff

A six minute, forty-four second featurette based around interviews with Tommy Lee Jones and the Coen brothers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

Interestingly, this locally-purchased disc has Region A markings on the caseliner, which also mentions a number of soundtrack and subtitle options that are not present.

The Region B version of this disc misses out on;

Aside from the omission of these two trailers, the two discs appear to be pretty identical.

Summary

No Country For Old Men is a very dark and compelling story about the progression of violence in society and how a place can change to the point where a man sworn to protect it no longer recognises it. A rare example of the Academy awarding the right film, it is a tour de force of great performances and a great story treated with the respect it deserves.

The video transfer is excellent.

The audio transfer is very good.

The extras are few in number and all standard-definition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Monday, August 04, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSharp AQUOS BD-HP20X, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic Viera TH-42PZ700A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
What's up with the audio spec labelling??? - Sean.
Sound - Jon